One nutrient in particular that we tend to not associate with fruits and vegetables is protein. Protein within our bodies is found essentially everywhere; in our muscle, bone, skin, hair, and makes up many enzymes that play key roles in vital chemical reactions. Protein from our diet is important in many ways, as there are certain building blocks of protein (amino acids) we must get from food as our bodies cannot make them on their own.
Protein from our food comes either from animal sources or from fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds. Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products tend to have most of the essential amino acids, while other sources must be eaten together and in variety in order to get all of the amino acids needed to make new protein! Getting enough complete protein from non-meat sources can be made easy following a few basic combination rules. Listed below are just a few ways to incorporate farm-fresh produce into your next protein-rich meal:
Legumes (lentils, peas, beans) + Grains, Nuts & Seeds
- Stir-fry vegetables with green snap peas, served over brown rice, sesame seeds garnish
- Hummus, with fresh cut vegetables, served with whole wheat pita bread
Grains (wheat, corn, rice, oats, barley, rye, quinoa) + Legumes, Dairy
- Grilled mozzarella, basil and fresh tomato, served on whole wheat bread
- Cornbread & root vegetable chili with beans
Nuts & Seeds (almonds, peanuts, sunflower, cashews) + Legumes
- White bean zucchini bread topped with almond butter
- Baked tofu on mixed salad, peanut-coconut dressing
Need some other suggestions? Try this recipe for an herbed yogurt dip, pairs great with fresh-cut vegetables, multigrain crackers or used as a dressing for meats or salad greens!
Minty Yogurt Dip
(Recipe adapted from jamieoliver.com)
As the growing season winds down, fresh herbs can be used to revive some of your favorite recipes. This easy yogurt-based recipe incorporates fresh mint and also packs a powerful protein punch!
Ingredients (Serves 6)
4 sprigs of fresh mint
1 lemon (zested & juiced)
½ clove garlic
1 C. plain Greek yogurt
Sea salt & black pepper to taste
- Pick and finely chop mint leaves on a chopping board, discarding stalks, add to mixing bowl.
- Zest ½ lemon and squeeze juice of whole lemon, add to bowl.
- Peel and finely chop garlic, add to bowl.
- Add yogurt, salt & pepper to taste.
- Mix all and taste for spice!
*Serve with cut, fresh veggies or your favorite whole-grain cracker & enjoy.
Nutrition Info (per serving):
Calories – 31
Fat – 2g
Protein – 1.2g