I grew up on the prairies and there were a few things you could guarantee come dinner/supper time: one, that there would be potatoes, and two, that there would be a big slab of some kind of meat.
When it came to meat, everyone in my family was a huge fan. Hamburgers, steak, roast beef, and if they wanted to eat lighter, chicken, were all staples in my house. With a side of mashed potatoes and some other vegetable, you’d have a complete meal with protein and carbs.
Maybe it was childhood overload, but I’m no longer on the meat bandwagon. I find I only serve it to my kids once or twice per week. Yes, I’ve worried they aren’t getting the proper amount of protein they need to grow, but I’ve discovered that there are easy and delicious ways to get protein without eating beef or chicken.
If you’re gearing up for a healthier 2017, here are two ways anyone can switch up the protein in their diet.
Choose fish for protein; not beef
A balanced meal should include carbs and protein, but that doesn’t mean you have to turn to beef every time you want to add protein to your meal. Seafood is a great protein switch for a lot of reasons.
Fish has less saturated fat than beef. Because a diet high in saturated fat is one of the main causes of heart disease, it’s great to limit your red meat intake. Fish has a lot of “good” unsaturated fat in it, and it also has omega-3 fatty acid that can reduce the triglycerides in your blood. Omega 3s can also reduce depression, asthma, and other chronic diseases like arthritis.
Put it all together and fish is a satisfying, delicious way to get your protein fix in a much healthier way, and you can choose cooking methods that emphasize the flavour of the fish by bringing home an indoor grill. These types of grills can make your fish tastes like it’s fresh off the BBQ, even when it’s not BBQ season.
Switch proteins by adding beans
Over the years I’ve slowly eliminated more and more animal meat from my diet, and given my upbringing, it was a hard transition. Gone are big beef burgers, only to be replaced with veggie burgers that I’ve grown to love. I’ve also switched to meatless chili, and the kids don’t even notice the lack of beef in the recipe. Why? Because beans are the perfect meat replacement.
The best thing about beans are that there are so many different kinds. I use 4 different beans in my favourite chili recipe and between the black beans, pinto, kidney, and brown maple, no one misses beef. Beans are also packed with protein, they have a ton of fiber so you feel full for longer, and they are much lower in fat than beef. Compare 4 ounces of lean ground beef to 8 ounces of beans: the beef has 20 grams of fat while the beans, at double the portion size, only have .09.
You don’t have to look to cans of beans to get your protein either; pulses are dried beans, peas, lentils, and chick peas that store easily until you need them. If you’re going to use a slow cooker for your bean recipes, pulses also cook better at lower temps so they are bursting with flavour when it’s time to eat. Lindsey’s post gives the low down on pulses, so take a peek if you’re interested in adding beans to your diet.
Switching proteins is one of the easiest ways you can cut fat and be healthier in 2016 and into 2017. When you’re ready to kick a new diet into gear, look no further than fish and beans as a quick and simple protein alternate.
Main image from: seriouseats.com
Second image: eatthis.com
Third image: seriouseats.com