Diet and nutrition, homeschooling, Photographic diary, plant based diet, recipes, Uncategorized

How much protein do you really eat?

DSC_4900-EditI have teetered on the edge of veganism for quite some time now,  I’ve committed to a total plant based diet for a month in 2019, but my biggest challenge is losing weight as I get older and keeping it off, and without eggs I think I struggle getting enough protein into my body.  The longer I don’t eat any meat, the more I want to cut all animal products from my diet, so as more and more plant based foods hit the shelves in our grocery stores here in NJ, and more and more restaurants are giving us vegan options, I am ready to commit fully.

I think it is time to really revamp my diet, I need to be adding more protein rich plant based foods into every meal that I eat, so it is time to do some more research and add a few essential protein rich foods to my grocery list.

If you are considering a more plant based diet, or you want to be totally vegan, this is what I have learned about eating more protein without eating any animal products.

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Protein is vitally important for our bodies, if you do not eat enough our health and body composition suffers immensely. It is usually recommended that an average sedentary man needs 56 grams of protein a day, and an average sedentary woman needs 46 grams of protein a day, which when you eat animal product this is easy to achieve, but when eating plant based foods this can be more difficult to achieve, especially if you are like me and avoid all soy based foods.

I have never in my life struggled with weight loss, I consider myself to have been very lucky, but as I have aged and my metabolism has changed I have noticed my weight creeping up, and despite calorie counting and eating a very clean healthy diet I still yo yo from day to day or week to week, but what I have noticed is that the weight difference can be attributed to how much food I have eaten that day, and most importantly how much protein I have eaten too.

So with all this in mind I am setting about changing my eating habits yet again. I have always struggled to eat large meals, but as I age I find I need to eat a good amount of healthy calories a day, but what I need to think about is the make up of the calories, how can I add more protein into every meal I eat.  Eating avocado on sourdough toast is not enough protein in that meal, if I average out 46 grams of protein for each day, each of the three meals I eat needs to have approximately 15 grams of protein in. If I eat two meals a day I have to add a whopping 23 grams of protein to each meal.

So lets look at some plant based foods that can give us a healthy amount of protein for each meal…

Of course soy foods are one of the highest protein plant based foods, I avoid soy for personal reasons, so I never include them in my meals but they can give you a whopping 10 – 19 grams of protein per 3.5 oz, pretty good for adding that 15 grams into every meal.

Now I do love me some lentils, green, red or French, I love lentils in everything. Lentils not only provide you with 18 grams of protein per cooked cup, they also provide you with a type of fiber that has been shown to feed the good bacteria in your colon.  I can see many more lentils appearing in my meals in the very near future.

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Garbanzo beans, chickpeas or whatever you want to call them, they are delicious and provide 15 grams of protein per cooked cup, I love, love, love them, hummus, roasted or ground into a flour to make pancakes, thicken sauces or make into a totally gluten free pizza base. Chickpeas and all other beans are most definitely a must pantry supply for adding a punch of nutrition to your meals.

Now I have been using nutritional yeast for many years now, not to be confused with yeast we use for baking.  Nutritional yeast adds some nice cheesy flavor to many meals, it is delicious in mashed potatoes and it is delicious sprinkled over pasta.  From my research I discovered that using nutritional yeast on or in my meals can add 14 grams of protein per ounce, it will also give me 7 grams of fiber… I need to be buying this in bulk and using it on everything.

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I do love to sprinkle hemp seeds on many of my dishes, they not only look pretty but they add some great nutrition to your meal. Now what I did not realize was the amount of protein these tiny little seeds could add to my food, 10 grams per ounce of completely digestible protein… I may just have to sprinkle a few more into each meal now.

When I was a child I hated green peas, I used to hate the fact my Mom put them on my plate with what seemed like every meal… Now I just love green peas with everything, how our tastes change, I love them mashed with some salt and pepper, I love them in casseroles, I love them in salads, it is fair to say that I really do love some green peas with everything these days.  Not only do these little round green peas provide you with 25% of your daily fiber and vitamin A,C and K, they are a great source of protein weighing in with 9 grams of protein per cooked cup, making them a great addition to every meal.

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Now this one surprised me, I have to be honest I bought spirulina quite some time ago, and I haven’t used it once, I am totally rethinking this, 2 tablespoons gives you 8 grams of protein, it is also an anti-inflammatory…  I may just have to add a little to our green juice in the mornings and sneak a little into casseroles here and there.

Quinoa has become a firm fave in our house, whenever I feel I need a little more protein in a meal I cook up some of this ancient grain that is totally protein packed giving us 8 – 9 grams of protein per cooked cup… definitely a staple pantry item in our house.

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I am thinking I may need to add more oats and oatmeal into our diets, I love oat milk, but as for actual oats we very rarely have them… half a cup of dry oats gives you 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber… oats can be added to everything from casseroles to veggie burgers and of course a good bowl of oatmeal anytime is the perfect comfort food to get you through a long cold winter.

Did you know that wild rice contains 1.5 times more protein than brown rice or basmati… now I did not, but now I do, guess what type of rice will be added to my grocery list.  One cooked cup of wild rice gives us 7 grams of protein… wow, who knew?

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Who makes chia pudding… hands up, me, me, me! 1.25 ounces of chia seeds give us 6 grams of protein, and a huge 13 grams of fiber making them a great addition to any meal, go grab some and chia pudding away.

Now we all know about nuts, seeds and nut butters, one ounce can give us between 5 – 7 grams of protein depending on the nut or seed… I always try to buy raw nuts and seeds and the most natural nut and seed butters I can find, its always a bonus if you find an organic one too.

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Finally there are protein rich fruits and vegetables, this is something I always forget, loading your plate up with them not only adds great protein but a host of other nutrition too.  Lets look at the vegetables that can give you between 4 – 5 grams of protein per cooked cup, broccoli, a firm favorite in our house, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts, these all make a regular appearance on our plates, but now I will be thinking of the protein I am adding to my plate.  Surprisingly fruits can be protein rich too giving us 2 – 4 grams of protein per cup, guava, blackberries, nectarines and bananas to name a few that can really pack a punch of nutrition.

Eating the rainbow is a must… but adding just the right of protein is just as important too, it keeps our bodies healthy and can really aid in weight loss when done correctly… now to work out the formula that is perfect for my body… wish me luck!

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Why do we green juice every day?

Every morning Paul and I (and Mabel when she is here) drink a full glass of green juice before we put anything else in our bodies, we wait anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour to allow all the nutrition to digest and absorb, then we continue as normal with our day… it is such a great way to start the day, well that’s once you get used to the taste, which believe me takes a while.

Why I hear you all ask do we drink green juice, well according to research we should always start our day with some kind of citrus fruit to balance our PH levels after sleeping all night, also it’s an optimum time after we have fasted all night for our body to effectively absorb this power house of nutrition… I started it after I joined a group on Facebook for natural healing for psoriasis, everyone was raving about how celery juice had helped to clear the psoriasis patches they had on their bodies, so me being me, thought ‘why not give this a try’… and so my not so original green juice recipe came about.

I have been making and drinking green juice for about 4 months now, I have noticed a few things, my digestion works much better, the fiber from the juice helps to keep everything running regular, I know, I know… TMI, my skin looks and feels better, I feel so much better in myself after I’ve drunk it and I have noticed an improvement in my psoriasis patches.

SO WHAT GOES INTO THIS MAGIC GREEN NECTAR?

The first ingredient is CELERY… The benefits of celery are all right here in this link. Very low in carbs, but very high in fiber, making it perfect for those of us who are on a low carb diet for whatever reason we have. It is also a fat free food, which is always a plus in my book and it has very minimal protein value, And to top everything off, celery packs a punch with vital micro nutrients, vitamin K, vitamin A, potassium, and folate 2… a very under rated superfood.

My second ingredient is KALE… The benefits of kale can be found right here. For a vegetable kale is protein rich 3 grams to be exact, it is great on the fiber front which really helps to control your blood sugar levels. It is full of vitamin, minerals and even contains omega 3, which is most definitely important if you are managing auto immune disorders.

Last but not least, my third ingredient is LEMON… Lemons what can I say, a great way to start our day, balance our PH levels, fantastic if you are on an alkaline diet, full of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamin C and folate. When life gives you lemons jump for joy and enjoy everything about them.

Of course this is just my basic recipe, ingredients I always make sure I have in, but of course green juice can be made with anything, Trader Joe’s have a fantastic bag of greens made for juicing, when the farmer market is in full swing I have been known to add some chard leaves, radish leaves and of course fresh spinach is a power house of nutrition. Apples, clementines, pomegranate seeds, the list is endless, they add a nice sweetness, I’ve added carrots, broccoli, even a little baby cauliflower… but when it comes to green juicing my basic recipe is always the same, healthy, nutritious and after a while it actually tastes delicious.

So for anyone who is interested in green juicing this is my recipe for two people…

4 to 6 sticks of celery washed and chopped into approximately 1 inch pieces

2 cups of chopped kale, stalks included.

1 whole lemon, I roughly take off the skin, don’t worry too much, then I add the whole lemon, seeds included.

2 cups of water and ice cubes, ice cubes are optional but I really like my juice on the colder side.

Place all the ingredients in your blender jug, blitz on medium for a couple of minutes, time will vary depending on the type of blender you have. Now you can drink this with the pulp if you like, personally I sieve my juice through a strainer, of course I never throw anything away, so I keep the pulp and use it in other recipes, I have been known to make an awesome green egg white frittata for breakfast, my secret ingredient in my bolognese is green juice pulp, it adds flavor and nutrition to casseroles and it’s delicious added into a homemade broth, so never throw away that pulp, you can use it in so many things and no one will ever know it’s in there… shhh, what they don’t know will never hurt them, it will serve to make them feel better.

I always try to buy organic fresh ingredients when I can, the farmers market is my happy place, but I know it’s not always possible so here is a little tip if your fruit and vegetables are not organic, try soaking them in a solution of water and apple cider vinegar for about 10 to 15 minutes, alternatively scrub the veggies and fruit with a vegetable scrub, I use one from Trader Joe’s when I need to.

Now green juicing is an acquired taste, believe me when you first taste that juice you will think am I completely mad to be doing this, Mabel described it like salad in juice form, and not the good kind either, but the more you do it, the more your tastebuds will become accustomed to it, you might even think it is delicious one day… but there is one thing that will happen for sure… your body will most definitely thank you for it, your skin will glow, your joints will feel more supple, and your digestive system will be so very happy… so go give it a try, what do you have to lose?

Oh and don’t throw your lemon peels away, always leave a bit of flesh on them and add them to your water, you will be surprised what wonderful flavor and value it adds to your plain old water.

Since writing this a week ago, I have added in a couple more ingredients to my basic recipe, half a thumbs worth of ginger, don’t bother peeling it just throw it into the blender the way it is and then add about 1/2 teaspoon of ground turmeric dissolved in a tablespoon of boiling water, if you can get the whole root definitely use that, but if not powdered turmeric will work fine… the zing these ingredients give the juice is amazing… there is a little story behind these two new ingredients and they include Mabel and a visit to Trader Joe’s recently, she bought a little healthy power shot of juice, the ingredients were like my green juice recipe but added in were ginger, turmeric and cayenne pepper, you drink it like a shot, it is meant to help boost your immune system, well it got me thinking, I have turmeric in my cupboards and a large container of organic ginger root in the refrigerator, maybe I should add this into my recipe, and so my new new recipe is born, I’m yet to be brave enough to add a little pinch of cayenne… maybe one day... Happy juicing everyone.

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It’s all about warm Winter salads this week.

I am often asked how I balance out my menus for so many different diets… my trick is to make a dish that items can be added or taken away, and salads are perfect for this, they are also a great way to change up the seasonal vegetables… Fall and Winter Salads are delicious, lots of roasted squashes, butternut, acorn and even my favorite squash the delicata, switch it up, try different squashes to keep dishes interesting, you can even throw in some sweet potatoes or yams.

Fill your salad with lots of seasonal greens, kale is a firm favorite in my house as long as it’s finely chopped I will add, it is full of nutrition and it works well in a robust winter salad, add in some spinach, and toss in some arugula (rocket) leaves for a little peppery spice. Next on my winter salad is broccoli or cauliflower, chopped finely, again for the fussy eaters in my house, it’s raw and totally delicious, blended with the other ingredients you will hardly know it’s in there.

Add in some carbohydrates, always whole grain as Jamie would say, quinoa is high in protein, farro, barley, wild rice, brown rice, whole grain couscous… your options are limitless, switch it up add potatoes, celeriac is a great choice roasted or add a little whole grain pasta, again so many different shapes and sizes out there.

Keep your portion sizes small for carbs, balance this out with all the glorious veggies out there, you can add ribbons of carrots, chopped red onions, one of my new favorite things to bake and add to salads is the humble beet, add chopped cabbage, red or green it works so well in a robust winter salad, add in some grape tomatoes, thinly sliced asparagus spears… just have fun, think lots veggies and think about eating lots of different colors within your dish.

Well I will put my hand up and say I never used to like fruit in my salad, I don’t know what it was about the sweet and savory combination, but it definitely was not my favorite, fast forward a few years and I love it, it just goes to show if you persist you can grow to love all different kinds of foods… anyway my go to fruit for my winter salad is pomegranate, the juice as you tap those little nutrition packed seeds onto your salad add into the dish to create its own dressing, they are bright and vibrant, and most definitely add a pop of color and nutrition to your plate. Apples and pears are definitely in season right now, so think about slicing or chopping and tossing them throughout your dish to add in some sweetness.

Last but not least is your protein, well this one is easy if you are a meat eater, seared turmeric chicken Jamie Oliver style is one protein that packs a punch of flavor and is an excellent anti inflammatory aiding dish. Perfect pork belly is a fantastic protein to add to a robust winter salad. The list goes on, spicy sausages, apple sausages add a touch of Fall flavor, crispy ground beef, perfectly seared slices of steak… take your pick they are all fantastic to add to any salad dish.

Now if you are a vegetarian or vegan beans and lentils are a perfect accompaniment for your salad, black beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), pinto beans, kidney beans, white beans in all shapes and sizes, you can flavor them or you can just toss them in as they are. Now I am a huge lentil fan, red, green, French, I just love lentils, add them into a salad or make a soup to go on the side, they definitely are a great protein for a salad, Spring or Summer, Fall or Winter. Of course eggs are not vegan, but they are a powerhouse of nutrition, boil them and have them on the side of your salad, make an omelette to eat with your salad, either way eggs are good with everything. Avocados, what can I say, it’s protein packed along with other nutrition, it’s most definitely delicious and I know Florrie, Mabel and I could eat them all day and every day… add them to salad and you will most definitely be smiling.

In my house we are split with dressings and toppings, some of us love a good salad dressing, some of us like it creamy, some of us like it acidic, some of us even like our salad dry with no dressing… WHAT? I know that is crazy right? Whatever way we like our salad dressing, just make it healthy and delicious. I always leave my salad undressed, then everyone gets to choose how they want to eat it. Toppings are the same, some people do not like nuts, other like seeds, have fun add some crunch to your salad your way, think sesame or hemp seeds, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, nuts, nuts and more nuts, throw on whatever you have in and crunch away.

I could eat salad every day, that combined with a good yummy comforting soup is perfect Winter food for me… here are a few ideas to help plan your meals for this week, remember always have fun, get your children chopping, get them to help with each recipe, what I find in my house is if they have contributed to making our meal they are more willing to try it.

Tomato farro salad

Harvest salad

Warm Winter salad

Superb squash soup

Spiced parsnip and lentil soup with chili oil

English onion soup

Salads are a great way to eat the rainbow, they can be a complete meal with all of your food groups on one plate. Something that Jamie said in his Superfoods show was to add feta over your salad, not too much, think of it as a seasoning, that is most definitely my new way of thinking, another quick tip is to turn a can of garbanzo beans into hummus, spread it onto your plate and place your salad on top, a great protein , with great flavor… however you make your salad, have fun, chop away, different shapes and sizes, add texture and color, your body will definitely love you for it. ♥️

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Handmade Baby Boy!

Life in our house is busy as usual, but I have had to take a step or two back and learn to let others help me out… Not easy for this busy Mom of 7, but I’m learning… My glucose levels have returned to normal, gestational diabetes scare over… Yay, but my iron levels are dangerously low, 60% depleted, so this explains how bad I’ve been feeling! the extreme tiredness, the shortness of breath and the occasional palpitations! This week I start hour long infusions of iron, hopefully this will make me feel so much better, I’ve been adding lots of iron rich food to my diet but I have to give in this time and take the IV, but if I had the choice I would just try the diet for a while longer!

As I am kind of on an in forced rest, my body won’t let me do too much, I get totally exhausted and very breathless easily, I’ve been concentrating on making baby items not only for this little boy who seems to be causing me so many problems at the moment, but later on for my Etsy shop Florrie’s Attic! I love, love, love babies in hats, boys hats are a little more difficult to find something different, so I’m working on ideas for cute baby boy hats! I’m also working on a fabric baby blanket with a crochet edge, at the moment I am using boy colors but the options are endless and I am totally in love with this new thin, spring blanket!

I have found a couple of links to handmade burp cloths and crib sheets, so this is definitely something I would like to try, JoAnn’s is a destination this week for supplies! Here are the links…
Hand made burp cloths
Handmade crib sheets

We are starting our little girl and boy room this week, well I say we, what I actually mean is I am organizing the colors and Paul is starting the manual labor! I have finally decided on a colors and I am very excited… We went to Sherwin Williams yesterday for paint samples, so I am hoping that the colors will be perfect! I love mismatched shabby chic style and I think this room will be perfect for a little girl and tiny boy to share… this is my inspiration!

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On a final note for today, Martin Luther King Day, of course I always have to talk about food… Although I am not actually cooking at the moment, I am in charge of the menu and tonight we have cheesy spinach baked penne I have been using gluten free brown rice pasta from TJ’s, I also like the fact that this recipe uses lots of iron rich spinach, combined with lower fat cheese options like cottage cheese, now I’m not sure my family will love this, but I love cottage cheese, we are going to have this with my favorite baby kale salad from Costco and some kind of protein, not sure what that will be yet, as I need to go to the grocery store, but I’m thinking mine will be baked tofu!

Links I have found for free crochet baby patterns…
Baby girl hat crochet pattern
Triple crochet cocoon and hat pattern
A guide to properly sized crochet hats… a must when you are making hats!
A super chunky baby cocoon
Newborn to 3 months crochet beanie

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Gestational diabetes? Maybe…

I have to say this pregnancy has not been one of my best, I don’t think it’s my age because when I had Farrel at 27, I remember feeling the same… I blame those boys, I seemed to sail through both of my girls pregnancies! I have been waiting patiently for my pregnancy bloom, but it just hasn’t happened, so at 30 weeks I am resigned to 9 more weeks (c section at 39 weeks) of just making the best of how I feel!

Last week after taking the glucose test I was urgently called into my doctors office… Low iron and a high sugar in my blood… Alarm bells… Gestational diabetes… That explains exactly how I have been feeling and looking! Thankfully my OB wanted me to try the diet route first, I was happy about that… High protein, low sugar, low carbs… Basically limited whole wheat carbs or gluten free, lots of protein and very little sugar, fruit included! Now I thought this would be easy, but the first few days were tough… It is surprising how many things we buy and eat that are bad carbs and very sugary, but thankfully we have the internet and Pinterest these days… Life on a special diet does not have to boring, the recipes are endless, and as I am making everyone in my house eat these foods, for ease of planning and cooking, I am getting into full swing… Tonight we have a delicious egg and baked tomato with pesto with a spinach salad and quinoa mix… Lots of protein and iron rich spinach!

After a lot of research over the weekend I have bought blue agave as a sweetener, tofu, I love tofu, very low sugar nut bars for a snack, blue corn chips are meant to be good for blood sugar levels as long as they are not fried, but baked… It has been very interesting to understand how the body works… Protein seems to be a key ingredient along with lots of veggies in most special diets, so this is my thoughts on planning my diet over the coming weeks!

Breakfast seems to be the most difficult to plan and eat well, as I am usually rushing out somewhere, so with this in my mind I have researched one of my favorites baked oatmeal, I can place all the ingredients for a pumpkin baked oatmeal into the Ninja and just switch it on in the morning! Pumpkin is meant to be a super food for diabetics, along with cinnamon and nutmeg, of course we all know that oatmeal is a very slow release complex carb that is good for all diets, making this a perfect breakfast, full of energy and nutrition, it can be made dairy free by using coconut or almond milk and by simply using gluten free oats it becomes gluten free!

Pumpkin pie oatmeal in the slow cooker
My changes to this recipe are… instead of the brown sugar I will add only 1/4 cup of blue agave sweetener, and to replace the pumpkin pie spices I will add cinnamon and nutmeg. Also an addition of a tablespoon of non fat Greek yoghurt adds much needed protein to your nutritious breakfast too!

The moral of this story is when you are feeling very sorry for yourself, as I was last week and finding it difficult to cope with diet changes… Positive thinking and lots of research can make you feel much better, after not eating well on Saturday and feeling dreadful and ending up in bed early on Saturday evening, I am determined to get my blood sugars reduced by just diet alone, I hate taking medication and feel it should definitely be used after trying natural methods for most things… On the plus side we are eating really well now, lots of raw vegetables and complex carbs, paired with lean proteins… Delicious!

On a quick side note… If you are trying to live your life more healthier, or have been diagnosed with a disease that requires a special diet… Go grocery shopping in Costco, over the past few months they have introduced so many new organic healthy choices, all at good competitive prices. Over the past few weeks the new items I have bought are, freekah, a healthy grain like quinoa, very low sugar snacking nut bites, ancient grain spelt flour pretzels, a quinoa and healthy rice mix… Everything has been organic too, which is a big plus in my book! My other faves are their baby kale mixed salad, their own fat free Greek yoghurt, full of protein and now they actually have a very reasonably priced large bottle of avocado oil! There is so much more organic choices to choose from… It’s well worth a visit!

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Recipes to try…
Black and wild rice salad with roasted squash
Olive rosemary bread