High Protein, High Fiber Experiments

Usually I eat enough protein everyday.  There is no need to go over board, as it is common to do with American diets.  Many people do not realize how quickly the protein can add up.  Often times the protein may be good quality, but it brings with it saturated fat.  To cut back on this unhealthy form of fat, protein sources like white meat chicken and fish are good, lower fat alternatives.  But, they are missing one thing that many vegetarian sources of protein provide, and that is fiber.  By including items from the bean family, you not only boost you fiber, but you also are getting a meal low in fat and missing out on those saturated fats.  As a vegetarian, I love adding beans in where I can.  Beans, unlike animal sources, are missing essential amino acids, meaning those that are needed in the diet because the body can’t make them on it’s own. 

This is why we have the concept of complimentary foods.  Food pairing for vegetarians goes back a long ways, but it is more common now to encourage a person to eat a variety foods.  It is fairly common to pair an item from the grain family with one of these vegetarian proteins, so there is urgent need to start remembering which food has which amino acid, however it is good to know that eating a variety of foods through out the day will help make sure you have the essential amino acids you need in order for protein synthesis to occur in your body.

There is one bean dish that I am very fond of and it is so easy to make.  I do use canned products for this, but I have found a way to lower the sodium content significantly.  This recipe calls for 1 can beans, 1/2 can diced tomatoes, and 1/2 can (or 1 can) of diced green chilies, which come in a small can.  If you by Mexican style tomatoes, which already have the cumin and diced peppers added to the tomatoes, the sodium is quite high.  To lower the sodium, I use No Added Salt diced tomatoes, and then by the diced chilies on the side.  The reduction in sodium from the tomatoes still makes a huge difference, even though the chilies are not reduced in sodium.

I start by adding the beans to a pan and heating until they start to cook and thicken, almost like forming a mush, but not completely broken down.  Then I make sure to drain my tomatoes fairly well, and I add half the can.  Next, I toss in the chilies.  Personal preference here.  I have done it with 1/2 a can and also with the whole can.  For seasoning, I add cumin, which again is personal preference on how much you want to add.

In the end you can see it is almost like the consistency of refried beans, except a good amount of the beans remain whole.
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I like having a nice batch so I can use it as a side for meals.
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On the day I made this, I was thinking about this great black bean chili omelet I had in NYC once and I thought I would make some eggs, and add the beans on top.  I was not too worried about pairing these beans because this meal has eggs.  Eggs are the highest quality protein you can find.  In fact, all other proteins are ranked against the amino acid composition of eggs.  if you think about it, it should make sense.  Eggs are designed to create and support life, so they should be ultra-nutritious.  With this meal I also enjoyed some mushrooms.  I love mushrooms.
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When I made the beans, I still had 1/2 can of No Added Salt tomatoes, so I decided to make another of my high protein, high fiber dishes, and substitute these tomatoes for the tomato paste I would usually use.
For this recipe, I start by heating some slivered almonds in some olive oil, which is a heart healthy fat.  I keep the temperature in the medium range because olive oil does not heat as well as some of the other oils out there, but it works for sautéing and I like the flavor.
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Then I added 1 small can of chickpeas.  Since I only had 1/2 can of tomatoes, I used a small can, and if I had more tomatoes, I would have used a larger can.  After rinsing off my chickpeas, I added them to the almonds, which were just a little crispy, and then I tossed in the tomatoes.  For seasoning here, I added some chili powder.
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This dish I usually serve with basmati rice, and it would be good too with brown rice.  I was so anxious to eat some, that I just went right for it.  This is a really good dish, and would make a nice side for any meal.
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Both of these recipes are packed with not only protein, but fiber too, as legumes are a great source of fiber, which can help to lower cholesterol and helps with a healthy GI tract.  Plus, they are cut that saturated fat out that can creep up when using animal sources of protein, especially red meat.  Fish is of course a different story, since we know the benefits of those health fats contained in fish.

I guess I was still in the mood for some high protein, high fiber meals, so the experimentation kept going.  Actually, it was this post by Gina, the CandidRD, that made me feel the sudden urge to eat some eggs.  But I wanted to spruce up just eggs.  I added broccoli and Morningstar Farms soy crumbles.  I had to fit a vegetable in somewhere and the green really adds to this visually.
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Then I got really crazy.  I did not have any shredded cheese to sprinkle on there, so I added a few chunks of light cream cheese.
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Then I stuffed the creation in a whole wheat pita pocket.  These are the high fiber item in this meal.  There is a whopping 4 grams of fiber in each of these 1/2 pita pockets.  For only 80 calories each, I am happy with that amount of fiber.  I was really looking forward to this meal, so I even made two pockets and filled them full. 
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You can bet I was full for the longest time after my dinner, but I managed to fit in an orange before I finally went to bed.

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QUESTIONS:  What is your favorite protein food?  What is your favorite high protein, high fiber meal?

10 comments:

Special K said...

So true about protein. I have yogurt EVERYDAY. It is my favorite...in addition to cheese, eggs, beans, and TVP...when I am out, I order fish, and sometimes meat.
My favorite bean is the chickpea...check out my chickpea brownies!

biz319 said...

Love these recipes - I actually like the mexican bean one and I am normally not a huge fan of tomatoes, although I eat tomatoey things - makes no sense whatsoever!

Sometimes I find by just adding a high fiber low carb wrap really ups my fiber for the day - I still do okay most days around 25 grams - not too bad!

Mari said...

those beans look just like mine so I know they must taste delish!!!!

FoodFitnessFreshair said...

I love getting my protein from beans. Adding brown rice adds even more fiber, and creates a complete protein. I eat this combo. all the time!

Simply Life said...

I love chickpeas and really any type of bean!

Rachel said...

haha, you are totally right about the ICU! Not talking to pts can be wayy more efficient, very true. thx for the info on the CNSD; I'm going to ask my preceptor about it this afternoon. Have a wonderful Thursday Melinda! xo rachel

Chow and Chatter said...

we have a lot of beans like these love the omlete

Ameena said...

I love both of these recipes...black beans are so versatile! I don't get in nearly enough protein and I know it but as a vegetarian it is hard to figure out things to eat and most of the time my meals are kind of haphazard!

I have such a weakness for cream cheese!

Nicole, RD said...

Talk about quick and easy! This is great, though. Most people don't understand protein pairing and complimentary proteins. You broke it down to easy breezy...:)

Have a great weekend, Melinda! It's already Friday PM there! Lucky ;)

Gina; The Candid RD said...

Yum!! Love these recipes. I am a huge fan of beans, but sadly I don't eat them often because I have to take about 4 BEANO before I do! Those things are expensive....
Glad you liked the egg post, and thanks for the link. I love making omelets and packing in a ton of veggies! So delicious.

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