The Silly Nutrition Undergrad

Posts Tagged ‘tofu

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A while ago, Craig from Gettin-Ripped asked me for my thoughts on protein and here’s my response.

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What is the first word that appears in your mind when I say “protein“? Did the word “meat” pop up in your mind instantly?

Indeed, meat is a key protein source for many people, but there are actually many other great protein options out there that have long been overlooked (or forgotten). In this post, I’ll like to introduce you to my top 5 protein food choices:

Tofu

150g tofu is roughly a serving of meat alternative under Canada’s Food Guide for Healthy Eating. Tofu is not only rich in protein, it can also a good source of iron and calcium. A serving of firm tofu contains about 11g protein, 30% of the daily value for calcium and 15% of the daily value for iron. Plus, tofu is plant-based, so you don’t have to worry about consuming too much saturated fats or cholesterol when you golf down that block of tofu (you won’t have to picture your arteries getting plugged up by blobs of floating fat in your blood vessels! Yay!) To find out more about the awesome health powers of tofu, visit WHFoods: Tofu. Miso-marinated tofu (same method as mis0-marinated eggplant) makes a delicious main dish for a simple weekday dinner, and make sure you grill extra so you have some tofu left for next day’s lunch (great on a bed of brown rice or a special spinach salad topping).

Beans and legumes

Beans and legumes is another great protein-rich meat alternative. A 3/4 cup portion size counts as one serving, which contains about 8g – 14g protein, nearly 30% of the daily value for iron, and a whole lot of fiber! A serving will give you about10 – 13g of fiber — that’s a huge boost in helping you to get the recommended daily fiber dose of 25g). Fiber has multiple health benefits. The obvious benefit of keeping you regular and helping your body to maintain good digestive health. Fiber can also help to slow down digestion and hence plays a role in regulating blood sugar level. It will keep you full for longer, help to diminish the craving for nibbling and avoid the evil sugar spike that makes you tired and sleepy. Among all beans and legumes, my favourite choice is edamame. Shelled edamame comes in convenient frozen packages. So whenever you need a protein quick-fix, you  simply take it out from the freezer and throw it into whatever you’re cooking without needing to thaw or do any preparation beforehand. How convenient! Try adding edamame to tofu oatmeal for an additional protein punch to jumpstart your morning.

Eggs

Eggs are the ultimate fuss-free, healthy and protein-rich on-the-go snack. They can be prepared within minutes and it can be incorporated into different dishes. The simplest way to enjoy eggs is to cook up a big batch of hard-boiled eggs and keep them in the fridge (they keep well for about a week). Then, when you’re hungry after a hard workout, you can easily open the fridge and get a quick protein boost by peeling some eggs. Reaching for eggs instead of going for a protein bar will satisfied your protein needs (each egg contains about 5.5g protein) and provide additional good-for-you nutrients. In particular, eggs is an excellent source of lutein, which is an important nutrient that helps to maintain eye health and  skin health. Although lutein can be found in other sources, the lutein found in eggs is much more bioavailable (a.k.a. the body can readily access the lutein in eggs, absorb it and use it). For more information on eggs, visit WHFoods: Eggs.

Yogurt

An 8oz container will give you about 10 – 14 grams of protein, and it will also count as a dairy serving, fulfilling your calcium needs for strong bones and teeth. I prefer yogurt over other dairy foods because it is a fermented dairy product that has added bacterial culture. These bacteria helps to improve the overall health of the digestive system by altering the environment of the small intestine so that it favours the growth of the “good” bacteria and makes it less desirable for the “harmful” bacteria to cultivate. To get optimal health benefits from yogurt, make sure to choose yogurt with probiotics and consume it on a regular basis to keep the digestive system healthy! To get an extra protein boost, try topping low-fat, plain probiotic yogurt with granola or nuts. To learn more about the goodness of yogurt, visit WHFoods: Yogurt.

Nuts / nut butter

I’ve written an extensive article on the goodness of nuts before — nuts are seriously that good for you that they deserve a separate post dedicated to praising them! I really enjoy tossing in a quarter cup of nuts into my salad or my morning cereal because they give an extra crunch plus an additional flavour. Nuts are also easy to carry around – I like to pack a small handful of nuts with me when I’m on the road so when I get hungry, I can munch on nuts instead of blindly rushing into a fast food store around the corner. Adding in a quarter cup of nuts or two tablespoons of nut butter is an easy way to add 4g – 5g protein to your diet. Honestly go nuts with nuts! 🙂

There you go! My top five protein choices.

At this point you may think I dislike meat? No, no, no! I enjoy meat, but I just tend to choose these foods more often because they offer a lot more than just protein.


I find that these foods will not only satisfy my protein needs, but also give a dramatic nutritional boost, making it a lot more easier for me to adopt a healthier lifestyle.Next time you dive into your huge steak thinking it’s the only way to get enough protein, look around and think again! Have a yogurt with nuts, or serve beans as a side dish — try to get protein from different sources.

Expand your diet, get healthier!

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I think I just found a new favourite way to eat my steel cut oats.

During the last month or so, I got totally obsessed with adding kabocha squash puree to my oatmeal, along with a handful of dried cranberries and a drizzle of maple syrup. But after eating that for breakfast for a month straight almost, I must say that the sweet combination hast lost the wow factor. And so I started to crave savory oatmeal now.

So this morning when I opened the fridge and saw a tube of silken tofu, I instantly knew that would be the star ingredient in making savory oatmeal today!

The end result? The melt-in-the mouth tofu made the oatmeal extra creamy and a small handful of chopped scallions added a refreshing Asian touch to the oatmeal. Absolutely delicious!

Oatmeal with Tofu

What you’ll need:

  • 3 oz silken tofu
  • 1/4 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 cup edamame
  • 1/4 cup peas
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 3/4 cup cooked steel cut oats (I’ve written about how to prepare stove-top oatmeal before)
  • 2 tablespoons scallions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Soy sauce, to taste

What to do:

  • I’ve assuming that you have already cooked up a big patch of steel cut oats and have them in individual servings sizes alright — If not, follow these instructions and make some now!
  • In a small pan, add in all the ingredients, except the egg and the scallions. Break the tofu into chunks and stir the mixture well. Bring it to a boil, then turn down the heat and let it simmer until the tofu is heated thoroughly. Add in some water if mixture gets too thick (the longer you cook the oats, the more water it will absorb and thicker it becomes).
  • Once oatmeal is heated well, slowly pour in the egg while slowly but steady stirring the oatmeal (like you’re making egg drop soup). Bring mixture to a boil again (to make sure the egg gets cooked).
  • Remove from heat and stir in scallions. Serve hot with a splash of soy sauce, if desired.

The bowl of tofu oatmeal was surprisinglysatisfying. This simple meal really hit the spot for me! 🙂

If you’re tried Mark Bittman’s Savory Oatmeal with Scallions before and thought that was pleasant, then you’ll definitely fall in love with this recipe!

It’s honestly THAT good.

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The Silly Nutrition Undergrad has moved. Come to Juicy Fresh Bites for new content on health and nutrition!

Meat tastes good and I’m definitely not saying eating meat is a bad thing!

Meat provides various essential nutrients, including iron, magnesium, zinc and B vitamins. However, I will say that consuming meat can significant increases our health risks, especially chronic health problems such as coronary heart diseases if we continue to eat meat the way we do right now.

What’s wrong with the way we eat meat? Here’s two big issues:

Outrageous portion sizes. Over the years, our perception of portion sizes has dramatically inflated. We tend to think a 8oz steak is a normal serving of meat, but that amount of meat is actually 2 -3 servings of meat, according to the Canada’s Food Guide. Try comparing portion sizes 20 years ago to portion sizes now, you will most likely be surprised at how much smaller sizes are back then.

Choose meat too often. We seem to view meat as being an integral part of our diet, and so we rarely consider choosing meat alternatives (we seem to forget about their existence unless we have certain dietary concerns). A common misunderstanding is that these food options are inferior to meat, in terms of their nutritional value. This statement is partly true in that meat does provide us with complete protein, but what we do not realize that these options can provide additional health benefits that are absent from meat.

So how can we deal with these two problems? One simple solution to cut back our meat consumption. It can be a very difficult challenge, but one small step you can take today is try to substitute meat with meat alternatives.

Here are my top three favourite meat alternatives:

Tofu

Why is it good?

Tofu is a high-protein, low-fat and low-calorie product, perfect for those who are weight-conscious. Certain types of tofu, especially the firm ones, are also a good source of calcium. Because tofu is made from soybeans, it does not contain cholesterol by nature, which may be preferable for those who are concerned about cholesterol.

How to use it?

It’s a super versatile ingredient. Soft or silken tofu can be a star ingredient in different appetizers and desserts. Try making an Edamame “Hummus” Dip or a Mexican Chocolate Tofu Pudding. Firm tofu is a great addition to any stir-fry. To make things fancy, you can also try to make Caramelized Tofu as a main dish, or how about try making Grilled Tofu Satay with Peanut Sauce? Here’s another must try vegetarian recipe featuring tofu — Fried Rice with Scallions, Edamame and Tofu.

Beans

Why is it good?

Not only do they provide protein, beans are also an excellent source of fiber (half a cup of cooked beans will fulfill nearly 25% of your daily fiber needs). Getting enough fiber is essential to maintaining a healthy digestive system. Like tofu, beans come from plant sources, and so theynaturally do not contain cholesterol.

How to use it?

Chili is a great way to introduce more beans into your diet. Make your own hummus using dried or canned chickpeas and serve it as a dip for vegetables or pita chips for a delicious, healthy and fulfilling snack or side dish. In this Creamy Broccoli and White Bean Soup, beans are added in to create a creamy texture without needing to add cream. Beans can also be a star ingredient in pasta dishes!

Nuts and Nut Butter

Why is it good?

Nuts and nut butter have similar nutrition profile as meats, but without the saturated fats. Instead, they contain heart-healthy oils which have protective effects against heart diseases. These oils will help to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and boost HDL (good cholesterol) and ultimately improving your overall blood cholesterol and lipid profile.

How to use it?

Instead of reaching for jam or butter, try spreading nut butter onto your toast in the morning. Or, throw in a handful of nuts into your salad instead of topping it with a big chunk of meat. Nuts also make the perfect, fuss-free snack when you’re on the run. Another way to enjoy nuts is making your own granola — here’s my favourite recipe by Alton Brown (absolutely heavenly!).

Meat has become less dominant in my food world, and it can come true for you too! Just dive in and try these recipes today!

More Resources:

Tofu @ World’s Healthiest Foods

Tofu Recipes and Cooking Tips @ WebMD

Health Benefits of Beans and Lentils @ HealthCastle.com

Beans: Protein-Rich Superfoods @ WebMD

Health Benefits of Nuts @ HealthCastle.com