Plant-Based Protein

If you follow a plant-based diet then the chances are you have heard that dreaded question before – “Where do you get your protein?”

Proteins, often a hot topic in the nutrition world, are necessary for all of us. Without them the cells in our body can’t repair and regenerate themselves. When we consume protein, our body breaks it down into amino acids, which is what our cells are made of!

Plant protein comes packaged in healthy fibres and carbohydrates that your body needs to fuel itself. Animal-based protein sources are often high in cholesterol and animal fats. Despite animal proteins often being advertised as ‘complete’ sources of healthy protein, they often aren’t always so healthy after all!

When we look a little closer at the wide range of plant-based foods available to us, we can see that complete proteins can be found within these foods too. The definition of a complete protein is when it consists of all of the necessary amino acids that the body needs.

However, it is important to remember that not all protein is the same: different sources contain different amounts of amino acids. And, that’s why it is important that we mix and match!

Most amino acids are pretty easy to get from any balanced plant-based diet, but some are tougher, such as lysine. If you eat tofu, beans and tempeh, you’ll surely be just fine. But if these things are not a part of your diet then you should pay attention to your lysine intake. Another limiting factor could be methionine. But fear not! By combining your pulses and beans with grains, you are pretty much guaranteed to get enough of them both. 

One thing is obvious: variety is the key! Different foods contain different amino acids and thus a balanced and a varied diet ensures you have covered all of the bases. Not all of the ingredients need to be complete proteins, as long as your daily intake is covered.

Here are a few simple tips to give you a head-start when it comes to fulfilling your protein quota on a plant-based diet! 

First of all, mix your rice with beans. The beans complement the low lysine content of the rice and the rice compliments the beans’ methionine. Check out my delicious recipe for making baked beans at home! 

Secondly you can eat your bread with humous to create another a lysine-methionine power couple. Alternatively, try peanut butter. A two slice sandwich with two tablespoons of peanut butter contains an impressive 15 grams of protein!

Finally, add more spirulina into your diet. You can effortlessly do this by adding a dash to your grains and oats. Spirulina on its own lacks cysteine and methionine, but that’s nothing a tasty green porridge can’t fix!

To put it simply: you probably don’t have to worry about your protein count if you are eating a healthy and varied plant-based diet!

For more top tips on nutrition head to The Flexi Foodie Academy now!

Green Goddess Soup

If you have made my Green Goddess Salad Bowl before then you will know how delicious and nutritious dishes with the Green Goddess label are! This soup is absolutely bursting with flavour thanks to the amazing ingredients it is created with.

Purple sprouting broccoli is great to use in cooking and is in season in the UK from January to May. When you select yours, make sure it is fresh and firm, as opposed to being dried out, as this makes for the best taste! Broccoli is thought to help prevent cancer, lower blood pressure and help to protect against cardiovascular disease – with several studies to support these ideas! Broccoli is especially high in vitamins A and C as well as folate, fibre and calcium!

To make a big batch of this soup, you will need the following ingredients:

1 litre of veggie stock
200g of silken tofu
250g of purple sprouting broccoli
2 good handfuls of Swiss chard and kale
1 heaped Tbsp. of white miso
Sea salt and pepper to taste
A large handful of pumpkin seeds, toasted

IMG_4796To get started, bring the veggie stock to the boil and then add in the broccoli.  You can boil the broccoli in the stock for five to seven minutes until the broccoli becomes soft. At this point you can lower the heat to a gentle simmer.

Once the stock is simmering, add in the tofu, Swiss chard, kale and white miso. Continue to simmer for another ten minutes and season with the pepper and sea salt. The next step is to either transfer the contents of the pan into your high speed blender, or simply use a hand blender to puree in the pan. You can then pre-heat your grill, place the pumpkin seeds on the top tray and toast for five to seven minutes. Finally, spoon the green soup into four bowls and sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds. Also, if you like, you can add the red colourful stems of the chard as a garnish too!

For more great recipes like this, as well as extensive information about optimum nutrition, head over to The Flexi Foodie Academy

Tofu and Vegetable Miso Soup

 This soup is an absolute secret weapon against any nasty colds or flu you might pick up this spring! With the weather still not fantastic it is essential to give your immune system as much help as you can to keep illness away. As we know, food is the best preventative medicine and this soup is packing some serious nutrition! There are some foods, like garlic and ginger for example, that are known to help the body through periods when you’re not at your best. Getting these foods into your diet isn’t difficult but discovering new and interesting recipes may not be something you have time for. Hopefully my blog has removed all of the leg work for you on that front though! Although this soup is great for kicking germs out of the body, that doesn’t mean you have to wait until you’re feeling sick to try it! The following ingredients will make enough for four or five generous servings.

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One red onion, sliced

A handful of ginger, finely sliced

Two cloves of garlic, finely chopped

One fresh chilli, sliced

A handful of bean sprouts

One carrot, sliced

Three or four spring onions, sliced at an angle

Brown rice miso paste

150g of sweetcorn

Four or five sliced mushrooms

200g of tofu

Brown rice noodles

Soya butter

Veg stock

1 litre of water

So to begin, fry the onion in some soy butter with most of the ginger (leave some for later), chilli and garlic. Once they have had a few minutes to fry add in the mushrooms and carrot. Stir everything together and leave on the hob to cook. While this is happening, slice the tofu in half and press a paper towel against it to help remove any excess water.

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Next, take some of the miso paste and rub it into the tofu before frying it in a separate pan. Once you have begun frying the tofu you can add the sweetcorn and the veg stock in the litre of water. Once the tofu is crispy, remove it from the heat. However, leave the other pot to simmer for about 40 minutes.

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Once this time has passed, add four tablespoons of miso paste to the simmering pan and prepare the brown rice noodles by covering them in hot water. Next, cool the noodles by running them under cold water and then put them into the soup. Chuck the fried tofu in too with the sliced spring onions and the rest of the ginger. You immune boosting soup is now ready to serve!

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Sangita’s Tofu Curry

My friend Sangita was kind enough to share this recipe with me although it was originally intended as a prawn curry dish! To give this recipe my own touch, I’ve substituted tofu in to create a veggie alternative! Curry is a wholesome dish that is perfectly satisfying at the end of a long day and with ample opportunity to include a combination of herbs and spices, it is great for your body too! To make this recipe for yourself and three others, you’ll need the following ingredients:

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2 medium onions
450g block of firm tofu, cut into small chunks
½ a block of coconut cream
1 teaspoon of cumin
4 ground cardamom pods
2 teaspoons of coriander
2 teaspoons of turmeric
2 teaspoons of chilli powder
Lime juice to taste
1 inch of root ginger
3 tablespoons of safflower oil
Lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Before you start preparing the curry, you should first add your desired amount of rice to a pan of hot water and leave to cook.

So to begin, you should chop the onions into small pieces and peel and slice the ginger. Next you can drizzle some of the safflower oil into a pan and fry these two ingredients together for two to three minutes. Whilst continuing to fry, include the cumin, cardamom, coriander plus the turmeric and chilli powder. Stir the contents of the frying pan together well before adding in all of the tofu.

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Now you can turn the heat down a tad whilst you create the coconut milk. Do this by mixing the block of coconut cream with 475ml of boiling water in a jug and stirring well before pouring into the pan. Turn the heat back up and allow everything to cook together for between five and ten minutes.

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Before you take the curry off the heat, check to see if the rice is ready and if so drain off any excess water and serve onto dishes. You can then season the contents of your pan with salt and freshly ground black pepper before serving over the rice. Garnish with a dash of lime juice and enjoy!

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Curry is often thought of as an indulgent dish that is neither good for the body or your waistline, however when prepared with the correct ingredients and not full of fatty products, curry can actually be a healthy meal. Not only this but it isn’t too difficult to make and is loved by many! Also, by using tofu as an alternative to meat in your curries, you are providing the body with numerous healthy benefits. These benefits range from lowering your cholesterol count to helping protect against certain cancers. It is also believed that consuming tofu will help keep bones strong as it is a great source of calcium. Tofu is also full of vitamin E and is a fantastic source of protein. Every 100g of tofu contains approximately 17.19g of protein, making it easy to see that you can still meet your daily recommended allowance from this meat alternative!

The inclusion of spices like turmeric, cumin and coriander are also good ways to boost the nutritional value of your meals and also add to the taste. Also, when cooking it is preferable to avoid the traditional oils which have become the norm and instead opt for a healthier alternative. Safflower oil has been used since the Ancient Egyptian times and is a bi-product of a plant which is also widely used for colouring, flavouring and medicinal purposes.

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