Updated: Oct 24, 2018
There comes a time when life become so complicated that we may fail to see the simplicity before us. At what point did it become normal to bypass real food and rely on powders and supplements as the logical go-to for incorporating protein into our diet?
It doesn't have to be complicated. Rather than scouting out "uni-nutrient" ingredients or foods to meet our nutritional needs, let us focus on the bigger picture and choose real foods that provide protein along with other necessary components.
Protein is a macronutrient (a nutrient required by the body in large amounts such as carbohydrates and fats) necessary for a variety of bodily functions. While research has uncovered potential benefits of higher protein diets, particularly in the areas of weight management and satiety, it is also important to understand that a high-protein diet may not be for everyone. The thought process behind protein's role in weight loss rests on theories suggesting the release of fullness-promoting hormones with a higher protein intake, or a potential increase in metabolism involved in the digestion of protein as opposed to other nutrients such as carbohydrates. Some people may require more protein as a result of increased physical activity or energy expenditure due to a "hyper-metabolic" state, or having increased metabolism such as in the case of burn injuries or thyroid disorders. Age and gender are also factors that may affect one's protein requirements. In any case, Americans are usually not guilty of consuming too little protein. In fact, studies have shown that most of us meet or surpass our protein needs without even trying. While long-term evidence to support the maintenance of weight loss achieved through a high protein diet is not exactly available, what we do know is that including protein in snacks and meals may help promote fullness, maintain steady blood sugar levels, and preserve muscle mass.
So now back to the HOW. If we do want to include protein as part of a healthy, balanced eating pattern, why not do it with REAL food. Foods like eggs, poultry, yogurt, nuts, milk, and legumes can amp up the protein content of a meal as well as provide other significant nutrients like as dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins.
So let's revisit a food that has recently become a favored protein vehicle for food manufacturers - pancakes. How about some plain protein pancakes?
yield: 8-10 pancakes (2-3 servings)
1 large egg
1/3 cup low-fat milk
1/3 cup low-fat Greek Yogurt
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup chickpea flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons canola oil
In a medium bowl, whisk together egg, milk, and yogurt. Add flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt, mixing just until combined.
Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Ladle tablespoonfuls of batter into pan for silver dollar style pancakes. Once bubbles form around edges, about 2 minutes, flip pancakes and cook an additional 2 minutes.
*Serve with nut butter or Greek yogurt for additional protein.