Pumping Protein into Dinners

Ah protein, another misunderstood nutrient.  Sometimes I feel like no matter how much education and research is out there, people are still more apt to believe things they hear from friends and in the lay press written by people with out any course work in nutrition.

The RDA for protein is 0.8 grams/kg, and I would say a decent range is 0.8-1.2 for most.  There are plenty of reasons why your needs might be different, but for the most part, this is a good goal.  The excess may not be harmful, but for some people can be and in reality, excess is excess and this means something is lacking somewhere or likely you have an excess of caloric intake for the day.  Not always the case, but if you really do not need all the extra protein, you are not getting much of a benefit from this.

Last week Ryan mentioned he thought he was not getting enough protein each day.  I stopped and thought about this.  Generally my first response is “Yes, you are getting enough”.  Most people overconsume protein, so especially with a meat eater, I am quick to claim the person is getting enough protein.  Then I asked him what he has been eating for lunch.  He usually eats salad and maybe some chips or something he can grab quickly, if we didn’t have leftovers for him to pack for lunch.  Then the light bulb went on in my head. 

Ryan probably isn’t getting enough protein.  We usually grab some cereal on the way out the door to work, and while he puts milk in there, I know it is not more than a glass.  Lunch I already mentioned, but it only has a true protein source if he adds chicken to the salad, buys a sandwich, or was leftovers.  Mostly, at least recently, it has just been a salad.  Dinner is always going to be a vegetarian source of protein, which in our house occasionally includes fish.

The real problem is that when I make the dinner, the protein is adequate for me.  I actually meet my protein needs.  Ryan is over a foot taller than me and also (obviously) weighs more than me.  So, 0.8 grams per kilogram of my weight is less protein than he would need for the day.  My dinners, provide us with good protein for the evening, but in the end I think this may not be enough for him on average given his other intake for the day.  It may help me meet my needs, but with higher needs, it is likely he falls short on some days. 

I also understand his feeling of lack of protein because he is a vegetarian by default so I makes sense that without the meat he just feels like he is lacking protein even though he is getting it from those non-meat sources I add to our meals. 

In honor of Ryan’s request (or quest) for more protein with dinner, I made two meals with traditional protein sources so that we can “see” the protein.

Starting with an apple.
I know you are thinking what I am doing starting a protein packed dinner with an apple, so let me show you.

Take a look at this…
This is local Azorean tuna.  My sister really does not eat canned tuna in the US because you can’t verify much about this.  This tuna, however, is clearly labeled and you know this is fished nearby.  I ship this to my sister because she actually is eating tuna again.  She is a vegetarian too but mostly sticks to vegan since she is lactose intolerant.  She swears by this tuna so I bought some too.
One variation on tuna salad that we like is a curried tuna with apples instead of celery. 

So now you see why I started with an apple?

Alright, pay attention…
(with some mayo and curry powder) equals=
There you have a very simple, yet delicious variation on tuna salad.

I decided use the tuna in a wrap and I thought homemade backed potato chips would be perfect.
Boy do I love my mandoline.
I spread these out on a pan and used some olive oil and pepper.
Ok, lesson learned, the bottom rack in the oven mixed with a little too much time makes for a burnt mess, but I was able to salvage some from the top rack.  I need to revamp this recipe for the next time.
Ryan was very pleased with the tuna dinner. 

Later that week I was happy to provide him with another protein packed meal.  I made this dish with a side of potatoes too.
Protein #1: Black Beans
I added salsa too this for a black bean sort of chili.
I let that cook.
Then I used this as a filling for an omelet.
Protein #2: Egg
My favorite omelet of all time is one with chili.  Now, I have a confession to make.  I have never made a real omelet.  I mean I have never made it so I perfectly folded over one side and had a nice filling inside.

Too bad my first try was not more successful.  The filling busted through.
But, you can see by omelet number 2 that my skill had drastically improved.
Both meals were delicious and just what Ryan had in mind.

QUESTIONS:  What is your favorite protein packed dinner?  Have you ever made potato “chips”?  Any suggestions for the chip idea?  They make them here at restaurants but they are thicker.


Unknown said...

oh yum all that looks good. I'll take 2 :)

Andrea@WellnessNotes said...

I usually add beans, fish, or egg whites to our dinners to make sure they have some protein. Your dinners look great! I'll have to remember the chili omelet! Sounds wonderful! I sometimes make baked sweet potato chips, and my only advice is to watch them every second... They are not done one minute and burned the next...

Emily said...

My fave protein packed dinner is black bean burgers. Or quinoa. I love omelets for breakfast, though. It usually helps if I spray the pan before cooking; they seem to flip over super easily then!

Gina; The Candid RD said...

Awww, poor Ryan! Has to live with a vegetarian. haha, jk. I mean I can completely understand how a guy would get nervous about not getting enough protein in his diet. But in truth, like you said above, I think people don't realize just how EASY it is to get plenty of protein! PEople think protein and they assume it's only in meat/poultry/eggs, but really it's in so many other foods! My favorite way to get protein is eggs or eggwhites, but I also love quinoa, oats, chicken, and Greek yogurt :) Oh, and fish!! The tuna salad sounds delicious!

Simply Life said...

i love this 17 bean soup we have that's full of protein!

Unknown said...

Hey Melinda nice recipes of yummy protein filled food. I am by profession a writer and my topic of interest is online education i am currently writing about online nutrition careers and was happy to come across your blog which are so helpful and personally i like them as well. If you get time it would be nice if you could pass by my blog on nutrition. Regards

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