I clearly remember that day back in 2003 when, as a keen, bright-eyed student at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, we learned about macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
“All foods contain all three macronutrients to some degree,” my instructor said. “It’s just a matter of ratio. So, for instance, most plants are low in fats, so we call them ‘fat-free.’ Most animal foods are low in carbs, so we think of them as carb-free. But actually, most foods have some amount of all three macronutrients, just in varying quantities. For example, a medium potato delivers about 6 grams of protein.”
I was riveted. This was a huge revelation to me. You mean that plant foods provide protein?
Seems that most people these days are under the same misconception I was. Whenever you tell someone you follow a plant-based diet, their first question is invariably, “But where do you get your protein?”
Now, vegans and plant-based eaters everywhere have a foolproof rejoinder: simply hand over a copy of Heather Nicholds’s new book, Protein from Plants.
Protein from Plants is a definitive guide to understanding, using and eating protein from plant-based sources. Having read the book (and having learned a thing or two!), it’s now my new “protein bible” when it comes to plant-based eating.
In a clear and engaging voice, Heather shares everything you need to know about plant proteins, in four sections.
Part One, “Understanding Your Protein Needs,” offers a mini-lesson in what protein is, why we need it and how our body uses it. It also includes a section called “Top 5 Vegan Protein Myths,” tackling the most common misconceptions about protein derived from plants, and how it relates to protein from animals (think that athletes can’t do well on plant-based diets, for example? Think again!).
Part Two, “Additional Protein Needs,” covers some of the less common circumstances in which our protein needs may differ, and how to accommodate them (such as pregnancy, pre/post surgery, and others).
In Part Three, “Plant Protein Food Groups,” every conceivable plant-based source of protein is described, as well as how to use them, nutritional facts, and more.
Finally, in Part Four, “Protein-Rich Recipes and Meal Plans,” you’ll find a plethora of easy-to-prepare, delicious recipes that are all high in protein. The meal plans cover breakfast, lunch, dinner and two kinds of snacks.
Plus, every recipe includes a full nutrition panel with fat, carbs, fiber, sugars, protein and key vitamins per serving. Some of the recipes I can’t wait to try include Chai Chia Smoothie, Edamame Sandwich, Blackeyed Pea Burritos, Black Bean Taco Salad, Cinnamon Lime Chickpeas, Warm Lentil Salad, Hemp Burgers, Mashed “Potatoes,” Cranberry Quinoa Cookies, Omega-3 Pumped Squares, and Black Bean Chocolate Brownies. They all sound soooo good!
There are also 3 appendices with more information about how protein needs are calculated, amino acids, and key nutrition facts.
If you follow, or are thinking of following, a plant-based diet but have any concerns about your protein intake–you will find the answers you need in this book!
And although Heather’s recipes aren’t all candida diet-friendly, her whole-foods approach is very much in line with my own diet and candida maintenance. I found many recipes suitable to earlier stages of the ACD, too–like this fresh and clean Parsley Quinoa Tabbouleh.
Unlike traditional tabbouleh, which contains bulgur (a form of wheat), Heather chose to use gluten-free quinoa for a more inclusive recipe and to take advantage of quinoa’s high protein content.
Once the quinoa was cooked (I opted for both red and white, and cooked them in the same pot), the tabbouleh came together in a snap. The tangy lemon paired well with the crisp, juicy cucumber and tomato, and the lemon zest really livened the salad’s flavor. I added some green onions just because I had some on hand (and am used to tabbouleh with them). As you’ll see, the original recipe calls for sunflower seeds, which I carefully toasted, then forgot to add to the bowl for the photo shoot! I did sprinkle them on later and highly recommend including them, even if they’re a tad unconventional, as they add a lovely nuttiness (and even more protein) to the recipe.
Great news! Heather also has some AMAZING giveaways going on right now on her blog! Win one of SIX prize packs of vegan products, ebooks and Heather’s cleanse programs. Go here to learn more and to enter! (Hurry–giveaway ends July 31, 2017!).
Parsley Quinoa Tabbouleh
reprinted with permission from Heather Nicholds, Protein from Plants
This salad is a wonderful main dish for summer, when you crave cool, crisp, and no-cook meals. It would be perfect on a buffet table or at a BBQ, too. You can eat it straightaway once it’s mixed, or allow flavors to meld overnight in the fridge.
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 Tbsp olive or flax oil (optional)
1 clove garlic, pressed
Pinch sea salt, to taste
1/2 cucumber, diced [I used an English cucumber]
2 tomatoes, diced
1 cup parsley, chopped
2 cups cooked quinoa, chilled
4 Tbsp sunflower seeds, toasted (optional)
Put the zest and juice of the lemon in a large salad bowl, then stir in the garlic and a pinch of salt. You can add a bit of olive or flax oil, but it’s not necessary.
Put the chopped vegetables and parsley in the bowl, and toss them with the dressing.
Add the quinoa to the bowl, and toss to get everything flavored. Serve topped with the sunflower seeds. Makes 4 servings. Store covered in the refrigerator up to 3 days.
Suitable for: ACD All stages; refined sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, nut free, yeast-free, vegan, low glycemic.
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You can purchase Protein from Plants on amazon, here.