Raw Parenting

Raw Parenting is being real with your kids.

I’m not talking about saying sorry to them when you screw up (though it’s a great thing to do so), it’s about not sheltering them for the very real, the very rawness, the very brokenness that is our world. Before I get into it, you need a little background:

Middle is a resistant eater.

If it *might* be too spicy, she won’t try it.

If she can’t identify the “mystery green”, she won’t try it (it’s usually some kind of herb).

If it’s too hot, she won’t try it, even 10 minutes later, when it’s starting to congeal.

If it’s got anything “foreign” on it (dog hair, human hair, a brown spot, etc.), she won’t try it.

Last night, I threw away an insane amount of food. It broke my heart, mainly because the fam had eaten a pretty decent amount, even praising the food! (“this is REALLY good, Mom!”.)

I’m pretty good at only dishing up as much as my family will eat, and saving the rest for leftovers, but a pre-dressed salad doesn’t exactly translate to “leftovers” well. You know what else doesn’t translate well to leftovers?

BANANAS

Middle asked for a banana. “Not a whole one, just a half. I’ll share with Little. And I want it like a monkey” (peel still on).

After “filling her order”, she went on her merry way to the family room. Suddenly, I hear “AAAAHHHHHHRRRRRGGGGGGGG!!!! There’s HAIR on my banana!”

I usher her up to the counter, so she can eat in a more hair-free environment. But she just stares at the totally untouched slightly touched manhandled-by-a-3-year-old-but-unbitten banana and proceeds to throw a fit. I’m talking massive tears, splotchy skin, and snot trail galore.

Now, here is the Mom Dilemma. EVERYTHING you read tells you to not make a big deal about food because it encourages eating disorders and general craziness in regards to food. It eats away (pun not intended) at me every time I nag my kids to eat.

But she ASKED for the banana. I served it up exactly as ordered. She chose to take it to the hair-pit that is the family room. But still, I’m left throwing the banana away. (actually, I ended up giving it to Little. I’m pretty sure she thinks hair is extra protein).

I calmly sent Middle to her room, because I didn’t want her to see me give Little the banana she refused to eat. She went, making sure the world knew she was unhappy about it.

I’m at a loss. How do I not create issues for her in the future? How do I make her understand that she should be thankful for the fresh fruit I am able to give her, hairy or not? How do I parent her through this?

So I turned to the Google Machine.

I didn’t Google “How to get my 3-year old to eat a hairy banana” (though, now that I type that out, I am curious what the search would yield).

I googled “starving child”.

Once I found the picture that I thought would be understood the most (ie, the most like HER) I took the picture in to a screaming Middle. Before showing it to her, I talked to her. I asked her why she didn’t want the banana (“I want a plate”). I asked her how she felt when she was really really hungry. (“not good. I feel bad.”).

I told her about children that eat off the ground because they have to. I told her about children that have never had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a quesadilla, or pasta with cheese. I told her about the children that feel “not good” all day, every day.

She stopped crying. She stared at me. Like I was kidding.

Then I showed her the picture.

I didn’t throw it in her face. I didn’t wag my finger at her. I just explained that this hurting is in our world and that we are extremely blessed to have food, clean water, doctors, and to “feel good” most of the time.

I’m not sure she “got it”, but I know I did my best at presenting it in a way her 3-year old brain could understand.

Sure, I want to protect my kids, but shelter? No thanks.

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Budget Meal #6 Chinese Night

Remember when you used to live off of Top Ramen?

Errr….yeah…. me either. I wouldn’t even know that I don’t like the freeze dried veggies and that a splash of hot sauce makes it even better. I wouldn’t know any of that because I don’t remember living off Top Ramen. It was Cup-o-Noodles. So there.

At $.25 for a “meal” (if you could call it that), the Ramen empire has been built by college students.

And preschoolers.

Yes, I got my next budget meal idea from working in Middle’s preschool.

Chinese Noodle Soup

Adapted from Food Network

Ingredients
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil, plus 1 teaspoon
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
8 cups vegetable broth
4 cups chopped Chinese vegetables or Napa cabbage
1 package of Ramen
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
6 scallions, thinly sliced
Directions
Mix soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil, garlic, ginger, sugar, and vinegar  in a small bowl.

Heat the broth in a medium saucepan. Add the soy sauce mixture and the vegetables and bring to a boil. Simmer for three minutes or until noodles are cooked through. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Garnish with cilantro and scallions.

I’ll serve this with a Chinese salad, with sliced water chestnuts, mandarin oranges, spinach, garbanzo beans and a bottled chinese dressing that I happen to have.

Budget Meal #4: Bean Burgers

On my shopping list for this recipe is a can of Pinto Beans ($.89) and burger buns ($2.99). So far, I have spent $7.47 of my $35 food budget, leaving me with $27.63 with which to make 4 more meals.

Bean Burgers with Guacamole

Recipe from MyRecipes

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed (see Note)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans, well drained (see Tip)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground toasted cumin seeds (see Tip)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons cornmeal, plus 1/3 cup for coating burgers
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 6 whole-wheat hamburger buns, toasted
  • 6 lettuce leaves
  • 6 tomato slices

PREPARATION

  1. Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add quinoa and return to a boil. Reduce to a low simmer, cover and cook until the water has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Uncover and let stand.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add beans, paprika and ground cumin and mash the beans to a smooth paste with a potato masher or fork. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let cool slightly. Add the quinoa, 3 tablespoons cilantro, 3 tablespoons cornmeal, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper; stir to combine.
  3. Form the bean mash into 6 patties. Coat them evenly with the remaining 1/3 cup cornmeal and transfer to a baking sheet. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  4. To prepare guacamole: Mash avocado with a potato masher or fork. Stir in 2 tablespoons cilantro, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons onion, garlic, and 1/8 teaspoon salt.
  5. Preheat oven to 200°F.
  6. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large cast-iron (or similar heavy) skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook 3 burgers until heated through and brown and crisp on both sides, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to the oven to keep warm. Cook the remaining 3 burgers with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, reducing the heat as necessary to prevent overbrowning. Serve the burgers on buns with lettuce, tomato and the guacamole.

TIPS & NOTES

  • Tip: Toast cumin seeds in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until very fragrant, 2 to 5 minutes. Let cool. Grind into a powder in a spice mill or blender.
  • Ingredient Note: Quinoa is a delicately flavored, protein-rich grain. Rinsing removes any residue of saponin, quinoa’s natural, bitter protective covering. Find it in natural-foods stores and the natural-foods sections of many supermarkets.
  • Tip: How to Cook a Pot of Beans
  • 1. Pick over 1 pound dry beans to remove any pebbles or broken beans and rinse well under cold water. Place in a large bowl, cover with 3 inches of cold water and soak for 4 to 24 hours.
  • 2. When you’re ready to cook the beans, heat 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 small chopped onion, 2 to 3 chopped garlic cloves and 1 chopped celery stalk (optional). Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are beginning to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain the beans and add to the pan. Add enough cold water to cover the beans by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Lower the heat to a bare simmer, partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 20 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the freshness of the beans. If at any time the liquid level drops below the beans, add 1 cup hot water. When the beans are nearly soft, stir in 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. (Do not drain: beans are best stored in their cooking liquid and the liquid can be used in some recipes.)
  • Makes about 6 cups.

Budget Meal #3: Mediterranean

I’ve got an eggplant and feta, two things that don’t normally show up in my grocery cart, so I’m going Mediterranean!

I’m going to make the following recipes:

Rice and Beans

Adapted from Low Budget Vegetarian

  • 1 c Israeli Couscous
  • 1-1/2 c water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 pat butter (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 zucchini chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 small can diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can garbanzo beans, drained

Cook the couscous as usual, or use leftover rice.

While the couscous is cooking, heat the oil (and butter) in a skillet on a medium flame. When the butter is thoroughly melted, add the cumin seeds. Wait about a minute, add the garlic, and let cook until the garlic starts to brown. Add onion, stir and cook until onion starts to turn transparent. Add the zucchini and spices, stir, and cook until zucchini is desired softness.

Add diced tomatoes and the beans, stir, and heat until thoroughly hot. Stir in the cooked couscous and cook for 3-5 minutes to blend flavors.

You can serve immediately, or keep in a covered dish in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve.

Roasted Eggplant & Feta Dip

Adapted from EatingWell.com

(I’ll be using this as a sandwich spread)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, preferably Greek
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons basil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of sugar (optional)

PREPARATION

  1. Position oven rack about 6 inches from the heat source; preheat broiler.
  2. Line a baking pan with foil. Place eggplant in the pan and poke a few holes all over it to vent steam. Broil the eggplant, turning with tongs every 5 minutes, until the skin is charred and a knife inserted into the dense flesh near the stem goes in easily, 14 to 18 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board until cool enough to handle.
  3. Put lemon juice in a medium bowl. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and scrape the flesh into the bowl, tossing with the lemon juice to help prevent discoloring. Add oil and stir with a fork until the oil is absorbed. (It should be a little chunky.) Stir in feta, onion, bell pepper, basil, parsley, cayenne and salt. Taste and add sugar if needed.

Panera-esque Mediterranean Veggie Sandwiches

Adapted from Greek.Food.Com

INGREDIENTS

2 slices whole wheat bread (or whatever flavor you prefer)
2 tablespoons Roasted Eggplant & Feta Spread (see above)
6 slices cucumbers (skin on)
1/2 cup baby spinach leaves
1 roasted red pepper, sliced into strips
2 slices red onions (optional)
2 slices tomatoes

PREPARATION

  1. Wash and dry spinach and set aside.
  2. Spread each slice of bread with Roasted Eggplant & Feta Spread.
  3. Lay spinach on one slice of bread.
  4. Top with cucumbers, spinach, roasted pepper, onion (if using) and tomato.
  5. Top with other slice of bread.

The only ingredient I don’t already have is spinach. I’ll pick some up at Costco for $3.49, leaving me with $31.51 of my $35 food budget. But it will also buy me enough spinach to be able to use it for other meals!
Read more at: http://greek.food.com/recipe/mediterranean-veggie-sandwich-415493?oc=linkback

Budget Meal #2: Calzones

Today is the other day I need to be able to cook from what I have in stock. When I made my inventory list, I neglected to mention what I have in my freezer. Lucky me, I have a couple of frozen balls of pizza dough, ready to be man-handled, from a sale a few weeks back! As I mentioned, substitutions should be easy, so I’ll be using the 6-cheese Italian blend of shredded cheese I have on hand.

Broccoli and Cheese Calzone

Recipe from MyRecipes.com

  • 1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup ricotta
  • 4 ounces mozzarella, coarsely grated (1 cup)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound frozen pizza dough, thawed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a small pot. Place broccoli in a steamer basket, place steamer basket in pot, cover and steam until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Let cool slightly, coarsely chop, and place in a medium-size bowl. Stir in garlic, ricotta, mozzarella and egg yolk; season with salt and pepper.
  2. Divide pizza dough into 4 portions and use a rolling pin to roll each into an 8-inch circle. Place a quarter of broccoli mixture in center of a round, fold dough in half, and then seal by rolling edges together toward center and crimping. Using a sharp knife, cut two small slits in top of calzone to let steam escape. Repeat with remaining dough and broccoli mixture. Brush calzones with olive oil.
  3. Mist a large, rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Place calzones on baking sheet and bake in center of oven until golden and risen, 13 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately, with warm tomato sauce on the side for dipping, if desired.

Budget Meal #1: Fajita Burritos

  • I have $35 to feed our family of 5 for the next 8 days, so I’m about to get creative!

Check out this post to see my inventory list.

Day 1 needs to be strictly from my inventory list because I only shop on Wednesdays (double ad days at Sprouts). Something jumped out at me immediately and is a quick and easy go-to meal. This makes great leftovers, or even a good start to the day! Plus, its quick to make, so you can whip up a lunch in a New York Minute.

Kidney Bean Fajitas

This is so easy, and is usually made from things I have on hand on a regular basis

1 red bell, cut in strips

1 green bell, cut in strips

1/2 large yellow onion, cut in strips

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 can of kidney beans (or about 2 cups)

1 tsp Cumin

Salt, to taste

Shredded cheese, sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, salsa(optional)

  • Saute the bell peppers, onion, and garlic, until just starting to soften and caramelize.
  • Add kidney beans and spices and cook until heated through. The beans start to fall apart, which I love.
  • Serve with optional garnishes, or whatever you have on hand!

For the kids, I like to rip up a tortilla and put the mixture in a bowl, like a burrito bowl. Otherwise, they make a serious mess.

If you like things spicier, you can also add chili powder, but I find my kids really don’t like it.

Budget Menu Planning Challenge

(Sorry it has been a while since I last posted. I’ve been busy being a non-crazy Mom and focused Home Maker)

Here’s the update on us and our diets: We eat about 30% vegan, 68% vegetarian, 2% meat (reserved for when we are invited to friends houses. We try to not be difficult.) The reason we added some dairy and eggs back into our diet is because The Hubby and I lost SO much weight (me 2 dress sizes and him 4 inches) in about a 6-week span, that I didn’t want us dropping any more.

Since adding in dairy again, I’m finding my food budget envelope emptying faster than when we ate strictly vegan, because I’ve added those expensive things, like $15/month on cheddar cheese (Tillamook is the only way to go. And I’m not even getting paid to say that!), among other dairy products.

So, what is a gal supposed to do when she’s got 8 days left before her next payday and only $35 in her food budget?

She get’s creative! (and makes a list. The gal ALWAYS makes a list.)

  1. Inventory
  2. Google
  3. Be Flexible
  4. Shop Wisely

 

Inventory

Here is what I have on hand:

 

Fruit/Veggies

7 apples

1 Roma Tomato

2 Avocados

Strawberries

Frozen Raspberries

1 English Cucumber

5 Red Bell Peppers

1 Green Bell Pepper

2 Red onion

2 Yellow Onion

1 Swiss Chard Bunch

1 Zucchini

Butter Nut Squash

Carrots

1 Eggplant

Cilantro

Broccoli

6 Red potatoes

Dairy

3 eggs

Rice milk

Almond Milk

8oz Ricotta

24oz Sour Cream

Pepperjack

Italian Shreds

8oz Feta

10oz Jack Cheese

Fresh Parm

Beans/Legumes

Kidney Beans

Garbanzo Beans

Green Split Peas

Lentils

3 cans of Black Beans

Grains

Whole Wheat Bread

Whole Wheat White Bread

Tortillas

Israeli CousCous

Quinoa

Amaranth

Lasagna Noodles

Penne

Cannelloni 

Angel Hair

Oatmeal

Vital Wheat Gluten

Canned/Jarred

Salsa

Whole peeled tomatoes

Artichoke hearts

Raw cashews

Pasta Sauce

Water Chestnuts

Misc.

Nori sheets

Spring Roll Wrappers

Panko 

Google

Terms like “Budget Meals” are your best friend (I narrow it down by using the terms “Vegan budget meals” and “Vegetarian budget meals”). When scouring the interwebs for budget meals, I look for meals that fulfill the following criteria:

Most of the ingredients should be things I have on hand, and those that I need to buy should be CHEAP ones. This is usually a produce or grain. If you are missing a cheese, just a hint, that’s not the way to stay in your teeny tiny budget. Chose a different recipe.

Be Flexible

Does your recipe call for Italian Seasoning, but you don’t have any? Sub oregano, basil, thyme, garlic, and onion for it!

Does your recipe call for Yellow or Orange bell peppers (which are expensive!!) but you only have red? Use red. Duh.

Do you only have rice when a recipe calls for potatoes? Use the rice!

Shop Wisely

I’ve been shopping at Sprouts, and I LOVE it. I’ve come to find out that Wednesdays are double ad days, which means I get to shop the sales from both the previous week and the current week. Love it. So, check out when your store has the best deals! Safeway, for example, has their $5 specials each weekend. Pair some of those specials with a manufacturer’s coupon, and BOOM, great deal.

But shopping on Wednesdays only means I have to find 2 meals out of what I have on hand since today is Monday and it’s pretty frowned upon by well, everyone, to only feed your kids every three days. (I know there are people, kids included, going hungry out there. But if you, my reader are one of those people, may I be so blunt as to ask you why internet access is more important than feeding your family?)

Stay tuned for my first quick and easy meal that I’ll be making!

 

 

 

Coping with Tragedy

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

 

Romans 8:28

How on Earth could the murder of 26 people, 20 of which were children, be used for the good of those who love God??

God has opened my eyes and my heart to think of a few, even as the enemy tries to fill me with hate and rage.

20 Children have had their innocence stolen from them. They watched as their murderer ended the life of his victims before he reached them.

The Bible, to the best of my knowledge (and Google’s), does not say anything about the “age of accountability”; that is, the age at which a person has individual knowledge of sinful choices and of coming to the Father. We do not know with absolute certainty that children and babies get a “free pass” to Heaven. However, we do know God is loving, faithful, just, merciful, and always right (the only parental figure that can say that!).

Jesus was given on the cross as an atonement for all of our sins. To those that have not yet formed a relationship with Christ, this is true for you also! God doesn’t preface his sacrifice as “as long as you think I’m legit, you’re good to go”. He is just waiting for you to come to Him. It’s like making up the guest bed in your home in anticipation of a hopeful occupant. He’s ready when you are.

I believe His grace and mercy extends to those children of Sandy Hook Elementary. He had a warm cozy bed waiting for them.I believe being in the glorious presence of Christ took away their fear of being away from their families, their loveys, their creature comforts.  I believe they stood judgement, just as every other person on the planet will in their due time, but I believe these young souls, so full of life, energy, and happiness (if you’ve ever been around a child, you’ll agree), passed His eternal judgement and were welcomed into His house to choirs of angels.

The children who escaped the massacre are scarred for life. Their coping mechanisms are not yet in full-functioning mode, and they will never be the same. 

I am sure there will be some children that will carry these scars for the rest of their lives. I pray peace in abundance on them, that God may bring a supernatural sense of understanding on their hearts and minds. I pray that they may wear their scars with pride of having been brought through a tremendous battle. But even in worldly wars, there is a rehabilitation process, which these victims of terror must muddle through.

I also think there will be heros that emerge from the crowd. Maybe they didn’t yesterday. Maybe they won’t today or tomorrow. But I have faith that at least one of the attendees of Sandy Hook Elementary will go on to save lives. They will go on to show other children that war-scars can be strengthening in times of trial. They can build a fortitude in a person that is not replicable by any other source. They will change the world.

20 families have to spend Christmas without their babies. They will never hug them again. They will never smell them again. They will never brush their teeth, their hair, or tie their shoes for them again. They have lost a piece of their heart. 

Families all over the nation held their babies closer last night. They prayed for them and with them, maybe for the first time, last night. They kept their impatience in check last night. They counted their blessings last night. They listened to their child’s stream-of-consciousness with a changed heart last night. They dealt with the noise, mess, chaos with a little more grace.

I know I did.

 

Plant-Based Myths: Protein Concerns

The Hubby and I have changed the course of our lives many times in our 10 years together. We’ve taken on extra commitments by adding dogs and children to the mix. We’ve taken on added financial commitments buy a house before we were married. We focused and became debt free, even when it meant saying “no” to toys, vacations, and dinners out. And most recently, we’ve adopted a plant-based lifestyle for ourselves and our children. Through most of our life changes, we’ve encountered a fair amount of resistance, but none so much as this most recent one!

As a parent, there is nothing worse, in my opinion, that someone insinuating that you are doing a bad job, or don’t have your child’s best interests at heart. People haven’t commented about the nutrition concerns in terms of me and the Hubby (which is funny because we actually need much more than the kids do) but only in regards to the health and growth of my children.

I am not here to defend our lifestyle. I am here to educate. 

Protein

Protein is required by the body for the growth, maintenance and repair of all cells. In terms of muscle growth, when you work a certain muscle, you break down the muscle during the workout, then repair it with protein, gradually growing them. It’s why athletes and bodybuilders are all hot-to-trot for protein powders. They are constantly breaking down their muscles and needing to repair them quickly so they can go at it again! Protein is a major component of all muscles, tissues and organs and is vital for practically every process that occurs within the body such as metabolism, digestion and the transportation of nutrients and oxygen in the blood. (source: HelpWithCooking.com)

Types of Protein

Our bodies need 20 amino-acids. Those amino-acids link together to form peptides. Those peptides link together to form proteins. Our bodies naturally make 11 of them, so the other 9 are called “essential amino-acids”, meaning it is essential that you ingest them to make your body run properly (source: No Meat Athlete).

Animal proteins are considered “complete proteins” because they provide all of the essential amino-acids.

Plant-based proteins are “incomplete proteins”, because they are low in one or more of the essential amino-acids. However, what one lacks, another has in abundance. These would be called “complementary proteins”. Eating the two together results in all of your essential amino-acids.

If you think of rice and beans as “going together”, you’d be right! Rice and beans are wonderful complementary proteins. (source: CDC.gov)

One caveat:  you have to opt for the best of the best. No more Minute Rice and refried beans. I always opt for brown rice (which freezes beautifully and doesn’t take much longer to cook a whole bunch of it than it would to make one serving) and whole beans, not refried. Refried beans have TONS of fat in them!

How Much Protein Do You Need?

The comments I’ve gotten about the amount of protein in a plant-based diet started to get at me. I started to question if I was giving my children what they needed. It doesn’t help that my Little is 14 months old and barely standing independently, and definitely not walking. Was it because I didn’t give her what she’s been needing to grow the muscles in her legs?

So I Googled it.

I went to a trusted source (cdc.gov) to find the following numbers:

Recommended Dietary Allowance for Protein Grams of protein needed each day

Children ages 1 – 3: 13 grams

Children ages 4 – 8: 19 grams

Children ages 9 – 13: 34 grams

Girls ages 14 – 18: 46 grams

Boys ages 14 – 18: 52 grams

Women ages 19 – 70+: 46 grams

Men ages 19 – 70+: 56 grams

I nearly cried tears of joy when I read that. Our typical breakfast is a whole grain (bagel, toast, English muffin, oatmeal, Cheerios, etc.), a fruit (bananas, grapes, apples, or a fruit smoothie), and soy yogurt with homemade granola (with peanut butter, seeds, nuts, and dried fruit in it).

This morning, my girls each had 1 piece of Whole Wheat toast (6 grams/slice) with 2 tbsp peanut butter (7 grams) and a 1/2 cup soy yogurt (4.5 grams) with granola (~ 4 grams).

At breakfast, my kids each ate about 21.5 grams of protein. And we still have snacks, lunch, and dinner to eat! My worry moved to “am I giving them too much protein??”

Thankfully, there is an answer for that too:

Most people eat more protein than they need without harmful effects. However, protein contributes to calorie intake, so if you eat more protein than you need, your overall calorie intake could be greater than your calorie needs and contribute to weight gain.

Besides that, animal sources of protein can be sources of saturated fat which has been linked to elevated low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease.

In addition, for people with certain kidney diseases, a lower-protein diet may be recommended to help prevent an impairment in kidney function. (source)

Soy Protein

In Forks Over Knives, we are educated, via The China Study, that animal-based proteins actually encouraged the growth of cancer cells, but a plant-based diet discourages their growth. A good source of protein, that is readily available in many different forms, is soy. However, it’s been shown that an excessive amount of soy protein actually works in the body to increase IGF-1 (Insulin-like growth factor) levels, effectively negating the positive effects of a plant-based diet.

High levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF- 1) are associated with increased risk of prostate cancer, whereas increased levels of some of its binding proteins (IGFBPs) seem to be protective. High intakes of dietary protein, especially animal and soy protein, appear to increase IGF-1. (source: Ornish Soy Study).

But did you know that a study done of Asian women with higher levels of soy intake show a significant decrease in breast cancer, whereas the same study done on American women didn’t show a correlation? (source: Cancer.org). This is mainly because Asian women eat large amounts of soy for their whole lives, and possibly because they did not eat cancer-encouraging foods in their adolescence. Interesting, right?

Soy acts like estrogen in the body. Estrogen promotes wound healing. Because cancer cells are made by our bodies, we are “wounded” from the inside out, therefore, the estrogen in our bodies can help repair that! So.Cool.

However, you need a certain amount of soy in your body to “make it work”. If you eat too little, it’s like it doesn’t count. If you eat too much, you grow cancer cells.

Grrrr…

No wonder people are all confused as to the health benefits of soy!

I found this very quick and easy to understand 90 second video that sums up how much soy is ok.

As for my family, we eat tofu very rarely (I don’t like the texture, but I am open to cooking it in different ways to see if that changes), enjoy a serving of soy yogurt once a day, and add edemame to things like quinoa salad. We use rice milk in general for cooking and smoothies, and I still have 1 gallon of cows milk for Big’s dinner drink (though I’m trying to phase it out), and for kids Cheerios, but only because I haven’t found a replacement that we are all happy with.

Plant-Based Proteins

One of my favorite sites EVER in this new journey of ours is The Vegetarian Resource Group, so I totally wasn’t surprised that they had a beautifully designed table of Vegan Proteins. Keep in mind, it’s not a complete list, by any stretch, but it’s a good start!

Table 2: Protein Content of Selected Vegan Foods
FOOD AMOUNT PROTEIN(gm) PROTEIN(gm/100 cal)
Tempeh 1 cup 41 9.3
Seitan 3 ounces 31 22.1
Soybeans, cooked 1 cup 29 9.6
Lentils, cooked 1 cup 18 7.8
Black beans, cooked 1 cup 15 6.7
Kidney beans, cooked 1 cup 13 6.4
Veggie burger 1 patty 13 13.0
Chickpeas, cooked 1 cup 12 4.2
Veggie baked beans 1 cup 12 5.0
Pinto beans, cooked 1 cup 12 5.7
Black-eyed peas, cooked 1 cup 11 6.2
Tofu, firm 4 ounces 11 11.7
Lima beans, cooked 1 cup 10 5.7
Quinoa, cooked 1 cup 9 3.5
Tofu, regular 4 ounces 9 10.6
Bagel 1 med.
(3 oz)
9 3.9
Peas, cooked 1 cup 9 6.4
Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), cooked 1/2 cup 8 8.4
Peanut butter 2 Tbsp 8 4.3
Veggie dog 1 link 8 13.3
Spaghetti, cooked 1 cup 8 3.7
Almonds 1/4 cup 8 3.7
Soy milk, commercial, plain 1 cup 7 7.0
Soy yogurt, plain 6 ounces 6 4.0
Bulgur, cooked 1 cup 6 3.7
Sunflower seeds 1/4 cup 6 3.3
Whole wheat bread 2 slices 5 3.9
Cashews 1/4 cup 5 2.7
Almond butter 2 Tbsp 5 2.4
Brown rice, cooked 1 cup 5 2.1
Spinach, cooked 1 cup 5 13.0
Broccoli, cooked 1 cup 4 6.8
Potato 1 med.
(6 oz)
4 2.7
Sources: USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 18, 2005 and manufacturers’ information.

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