If you’re trying to be a lean, mean cooking machine, you need protein. Proteins are critical to the function of our bodies. They are the building blocks for just about everything, including blood, hormones, muscles, and bones.
However, not all protein is created equal. Some forms of protein are also loaded with “bad” fats – the sort of fats that clog our arteries and weigh us down. One way to avoid bad fats but still get your healthy amount of required proteins is to prepare lean proteins like chicken and fish. These two proteins can get boring after a while, though. So here are a few other food groups that can provide you with all the protein you need to keep your body in lean, mean condition.
Beans and Lentils
This wonderful food group is filled with foods that are not only considered superstars of the health world, but they are also one of the cheapest kinds of foods you can find. They help with heart health, digestion, and all the benefits of proteins, plus they’re naturally low in fat.
As fall begins to creep closer, you can start preparing lots of slow cooker recipes that call for beans. Better yet, make the beans now and freeze them for a frozen day when you need a filling meal. Beans don’t even have to be the main entrée; they can also be made as a delicious side item. For instance, take this Pinto Bean recipe from Paula Dean, or this Mexican Bean Salad from Allrecipes.com. Both dishes will pair well with cornbread and a big dollop of low-fat sour cream.
It may not be the prettiest ingredient you’ve ever taken out of the package, but what it lacks for being easy on the eye, it certainly makes up for by being easy on the cook.
Tofu contains 10% of your daily requirement for protein and only 9% of your daily fat in half a cup. Some kinds of tofu are already baked and can be added directly to a bowl full of yummy noodles, while uncooked tofu requires a quick toss in a frying pan and some sesame oil to get the job done.
Since tofu is traditionally an ingredient used in Asian cooking, it stands to reason that it pairs well with various kinds of Asian noodles such as soba or lo mien. However, tofu is so prevalent that you can find recipes for just about any style of food, including lasagna, fake chicken nuggets, and even burgers.
Remember that advertising slogan, “It’s the other white meat”? While pork may be advertised as the equivalent to chicken, it’s important to keep in mind that some parts of a pig contain more fat than others, so the cut you select is important.
Pork loin is a leaner cut of meat in terms of fat, although it is often packaged as a thick slab. Due to its size, pork line is best suited for baking, roasting, and grilling.
Roasting a delicious piece of pork loin is as simple as making a rub with fresh herbs, salt, and garlic. If you like a little crunch, you can rub the pork loin lightly in oil and then roll it in a mixture of breadcrumbs and spices before putting the whole thing in a baking dish and cooking for half an hour. Leftover pork loin is perfect for slicing and using as sandwich meat, so don’t throw away that extra juice either!
Its small size belies its protein punch; one egg contains six grams of protein. Eggs are a common staple of breakfast, but they can also play starring roles at lunch or dinner. Hard boiled eggs are an easy way to include these filling foods in your lunch. They can eaten on their own or sliced up and put atop a leafy green salad. At dinner, add a few to your favorite stir fry recipe or try putting an over-easy egg on top of your burger. Now that’s what a real egg-head would do.