Get Stronger This Season – with Budget-Friendly Meals Rich in Plant ProteinsJulia Woodford October 30, 2022
In the summer of 2020, outbreaks of coronavirus in meat processing plants across Canada caused people to think twice about their consumption of meat. According to David George-Cosh of the Business News Network, “Products that use soy or peas to replicate the taste and texture of meat are seeing a surge in sales as Canadians snap up new protein sources amid concerns that meat selection will become strained due to virus outbreaks at major processing facilities.”
In fact, sales of tofu and meat alternatives have risen 52% over the past year in Canada, according to analytics firm Nielsen. Personally, I avoid tofu and other soy products because I find them hard to digest, and the vast majority of soybeans are now genetically modified (although if you can find organic, fermented soy products such as miso and tempeh, those are acceptable). That said, there are plenty of excellent protein-rich alternatives to soy.
Benefits of Plant-Based Protein
Protein is critical for keeping the body strong and the immune system optimized. Unfortunately for those who love their burgers and steaks, a 2015 report by the WHO described the consumption of red meat as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” The report went on to say: “This association [between meat and cancer] was observed mainly for colorectal cancer, but associations were also seen for pancreatic cancer and prostate cancer.
Since plant-based protein is a nutrient-dense, thrifty, and eco-friendly alternative to animal foods, it’s worthwhile cultivating a repertoire of favorite recipes for future meals.
These days, my favorite plant-based proteins include:
– Lentils (range from 18 to 24 grams protein per cooked cup, depending on type of lentil);
– Mung beans (14 grams protein per cooked cup);
– Quinoa (8 grams protein per cup); and
– Black beans (15 grams protein per cooked cup).
All of them have a long shelf life if stored in a cool, dry place. So in the event of food supply disruptions and power outages they can be used as solid dietary staples (in a pinch, just add water and cook them over a campfire or barbecue). And they travel well, so you can easily take beans and grains to the cottage for protein-rich country dinners (easier than hauling a side of beef).
The following recipes are high in plant-based protein and are well suited to easy prepping and dining.
HEALING SALAD IN A JAR
(This protein-packed recipe, which contains both quinoa and black beans, is from the book by Julie Daniluk, RHN, entitled Slimming Meals That Heal: Lose Weight Without Dieting, Using Anti-Inflammatory Superfoods. (Makes 2 servings))
If you like to take a salad for lunch but don’t have time to prepare it in the morning, I have the solution for you. By using a mason jar and putting the dressing in first, you can make salads the day before. When you are ready to eat, just give the salad a shake and enjoy. Feel free to change up the ingredients of the salad. Just remember to always place the greens at the top of the jar to keep them from coming into contact with the dressing.
4 Tbsp Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 cup chopped apples
1 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup walnuts
1 cup cooked red quinoa
1 cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed if canned
2 cups spinach or arugula
Find two wide-mouth 32-oz mason jars with tight-fitting lids. Pour half the dressing into bottom of each jar, then add onions, beans, and apples so they can marinate.
Add carrots, walnuts, quinoa as the middle layers. At the very top, add spinach or arugula.
Shake well just before serving to coat ingredients.
ROASTED GARLIC VINAIGRETTE
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp water 1 tsp basil, dried
2 Tbsp honey 1/4 tsp pink rock salt or gray sea salt
2 cloves garlic, roasted or 1 clove raw garlic, crushed
Place all ingredients into in a blender and blend for about 30 seconds. Use immediately or store in a jar for one to two weeks.
RED PEPPER LENTIL SALAD
This recipe is also by Julie Daniluk, tucked in an article on Vitality’s website entitled: Fabulous Fibre: Foods That Create Fullness and Fight Fat. The recipe calls for two kinds of plant-based protein (lentils and hemp seeds), so you can expect steady long-lasting energy from this vitamin- and mineral-charged dish. Lentils boast 8 grams of fibre per 1/2 cup serving. Much of this fibre is soluble and helps to stabilize blood sugar.
1 cup red pepper, julienned (matchstick-size pieces)
19 oz (540 mL) can green lentils, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/2 cup fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup lemon juice 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic 1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp dried oregano Sea salt to taste
1) Mix all dressing ingredients in a bowl.
2) Place all salad ingredients in a separate bowl and top with dressing. Mix well and taste to adjust seasoning.
3) The flavor improves as the salad marinates, so you can make it ahead (and refrigerate for up to three days.)
RED LENTIL HUMMUS
Don’t leave your hummus stuck in a rut – try this unusual interpretation from The Organic Gourmet Feast of Fields cookbook. (Makes 2 cups.)
1 cup red lentils, rinsed
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1) In a saucepan, cover lentils with 2 cups salted water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 30 minutes or until tender; drain.
2) In a food processor, combine cooked lentils with garlic, cumin, basil, sun-dried tomatoes and olive oil. Puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve with pita bread cut into wedges, pita chips, or celery for dipping.
GLAZED VEGETABLE LENTIL LOAF
This recipe by long-time food writer Linda Gabris comes from her feature entitled Marvellous Meatless Meals located in the Vitality archives.
Says Linda: “Introducing meat-lovers to meatless meals is easy with this tasty loaf which comes out of the oven oozing with a mouth-watering glaze. This dish goes great with fermented beets, a green salad, and a crispy roll on the side. Leftover slices can be sprinkled with flour and fried in olive oil until brown and crispy…every bit as good the second time around!”
1-1/2 cups dry green (or brown) lentils
3 cups vegetable stock or water
4 Tbsp ground flaxseed
1/2 cup water
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 chopped onions
4 cloves minced garlic
1 minced sweet pepper
1 diced jalapeno pepper (optional)
1 stick minced celery
3 grated carrots
1/2 teaspoon each of ground cumin and coriander
Pinch of thyme and basil
Sea salt and pepper to taste
1 egg (optional, for those who want a firmer loaf)
1) Wash lentils under cold running water and put them into a large saucepan; add stock or water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 35 to 45 minutes, or until mushy and liquid is mostly evaporated, stirring frequently to ensure lentils have not boiled dry.
2) Remove from heat, let stand until cool at which time the lentils should be very thick.
3) In a bowl, combine ground flaxseed with water. Let stand 10 minutes. If you like a more delicate loaf you can skip this step but if you fancy a firmer texture this makes a good binder. Set aside.
4) Heat olive oil in a skillet and sauté onions, garlic, peppers, celery, and carrots until soft. Sprinkle in the spices, herbs, sea salt, and pepper.
5) Mix the flax seed and vegetables into the lentils, add the egg, and mix well. The mixture should have a ‘meat loaf’ consistency. If you find it is not stiff enough you can add some seasoned wholewheat bread or cracker crumbs for extra binding power. Set aside.
6) Grease a 10” x 5” x 3” loaf pan with coconut or olive oil, and pack loaf mixture into pan. Spread with the glaze (recipe below), and bake 45 minutes at 375F, or until firmly set. Let stand 15 minutes before slicing.
7) Spread with the glaze, and bake 45 minutes at 375F, or until firmly set. Let stand 15 minutes before slicing.
GLAZE FOR LENTIL LOAF
To prepare the glaze:
- 2 Tbsp of ketchup
- 2 Tbsp of sweet chili sauce
- 1 Tbsp of honey
- 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1) In a small bowl, combine ketchup, sweet chili sauce, honey, and vinegar. Mix well.
2) Spread the glaze on top of the lentil loaf, as directed in previous recipe.
Marvellous Mung Beans
by Julia Woodford
I started adding protein-rich cooked mung beans to my meals a few years ago after I learned of their reputation as a superfood in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Mung beans are highly anti-inflammatory and work to clear toxins such as mercury and other heavy metals from the body. They can be boiled up just like lentils or chickpeas, and mixed in a bowl with olive oil, garlic, and herbs of your choice for a cleansing summer supper.
And recently I’ve also started sprouting them and adding the sprouts to my morning meal, based on the advice of Tony Hornick. A 91-year-old local entrepreneur, Tony attributes his perfect health to daily consumption of sprouted mung beans. Tony describes the mung bean as a superfood high in amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and proteins – everything needed to stay healthy.
As a result of his daily sprout consumption, Tony claims to be free of the common aches and pains typical of folks in his age group, so he takes these sprouts seriously. (He even believes they can help build immunity to viruses.)
Twenty-five years ago, when he first discovered mung bean sprouts, Tony was so impressed with their health benefits that he founded the Sprout Growers company in Burlington, Ont. The company makes easy-to-use sprouting kits available to the public. He is currently offering a kit that includes one sprouter, plus three pounds of certified organic kosher mung beans for $53 (includes shipping within North America). This kit is adequate to last for three months if you follow his recommendations.
I love the idea of growing an urban sprout garden right in my kitchen. This is very convenient for us city dwellers who may not have a patch of land or a balcony to do container gardening. And if there are disruptions to the food supply, whether from climate catastrophes, transportation issues, or store closures, growing our own sprouts provides a highly nutritious source of fresh greens at our fingertips. Even better, it’s easy and inexpensive.
Alternatively, if you want to try sprouting a larger variety of beans and seeds, a local company called Sprout Master offers a range of sprouting supplies. Based in Elmvale, Ont., Sprout Master is a distributor of organic seeds, grains, beans, and sprouting tools. Right now they have a “Sprouting Special” on for $19.95, comprised of:
1) A book on sprouts (how to grow sprouts of many varieties and prepare meals with them);
2) A salad mix (alfalfa, canola, clover, radish, broccoli sprouts);
3) A 1-litre sprouting jar.
In the words of David George-Cosh, “As the COVID-19 pandemic stirs fear about food supply chains, plant-based meat substitutes are having their day in the sun.”
And we couldn’t be more thrilled.
REFERENCES AND RESOURCES
Author bio: About Julie Daniluk, RHN, NNCP
Julie is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and host of Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show aired in over 70 countries. A highly-sought-after anti-
 Vitality has arranged for our readers to receive a $3 discount on Tony Hornick’s Sprout Grower kit. To get the discount, use the code word “Vital” when you order. To make your order or for more information, please visit www.sproutgrower.com or call toll-free 1-800-815-9158. The Hornick sprouting kit is also available in some health food stores across Canada (see website for list of stores). Tel: 800-815-9158
 To find out more about Sprout Master’s sprouting supplies, hydrogen peroxide, and other resources, visit: http://www.sproutmaster.com or call toll-free 1-888-333-4456
Julia Woodford founded Vitality Magazine in 1989, and has been its Editor-in-Chief for the past 30 years. Prior to a career in publishing, her studies included Political Economics at York University, Journalism at Ryerson University, and Psychology, PhysEd, and Anthropology at University of Toronto. She remains a lifelong student of herbalism, nutritional medicine, and the healing arts to this day. You can read her columns on the <a href="https://vitalitymagazine.com/">Vitality website</a>. She is also the former Show Manager for Whole Life Expo, Canada’s largest showcase of natural health and green living. Learn more at the <a href="https://www.wholelifeexpo.ca/">Expo website</a> In 2018 she received a “Hall of Fame” award from <a href="https://www.nationalnutrition.ca/">National Nutrition</a>. In 2019, she was nominated for a “Person of the Year” award by <a href="https://www.nationalnutrition.ca/">National Nutrition</a>.