Hello WW Gays family!
First off, a very Happy Birthday to the amazing and gorgeous Jean-Luc!!! I am so proud to call you my friend. May your next year be as inspiring as this last one has been! Here's a fun one from this day last year. My how those fine men have changed, no? It has been a fantastic year of being fast friends with these two amazing people. I continue to be inspired by them every day.
This includes them arm-twisting me into climbing the CN tower with them in support of WWF. I was reluctant at first because it seemed so daunting, but I am SO HAPPY that they persuaded me to do it. I raised over 900 dollars and climbed that tower in 20 minutes and 44 seconds!! At the top were these two sweaty guys with matching t-shirts waiting with high fives and a big smooch! My dream come true lol.
Anyways, on with today's topic...
In my last blog, I stepped away from food to talk about mindset. I hope you found some of it resonated with you - this lifelong journey is a tricky one! Today, I shift back to vegetarian living by examining protein. I get this question a lot from well meaning non-veggies - “How do you ensure you are getting enough protein?”. Totally a fair question, and not because it’s hard to get enough, but because a lot of times people just don’t know what to do with us vegetarians. Admittedly, I’m a little tired of seeing the menu at fancy restaurants and weddings - everyone else is eating steak or chicken and I get a souped up version of a side dish with nothing but veggies and carbs. Where is my protein? Remember this when you are having a vegetarian over for dinner! They will love and appreciate you if you take the time to grill up a few strips of smoked tofu, or make up a nice bean salad (which is great because it can be a main and a side dish).
I am a protein fanatic and put a lot of effort into making sure I eat some with every meal - it’s the secret to staying satisfied and energetic. WW’s switch over to 0pt lean proteins was a game changer for me. I had my doubts along with the rest of my WW peeps - all the beans, tofu, greek yogurt and eggs I wanted? Surely they were joking! But like every other change I’ve seen them make, I trusted the science. WW’s take on it is, “Our research shows that Members living this plan have had excellent weight loss results. The new ZeroPoint foods provide a healthy foundation from which you can build a healthy pattern of eating.”(Source) Under the new plan the weight continued to fall away, even when I upped my zero point protein foods. Now with most recipes I double the amount of beans or soy products in my meals, and it works like a charm. I am rarely hungry, I have tons of energy, and if I find myself in that 3pm slump I happily chow down on a high protein snack if I want to.
So, if you are a vegetarian and trying to work this lifestyle, you’ve got to incorporate quality protein into every meal. Meat eaters, you too! Nick and Jean-Luc regularly talk about how they eat chicken breast for breakfast because they know that you’ve got to start the day off with something satisfying to get you through until lunch. Vegetarians - incorporate eggs, greek yogurt, a healthy tofu scramble (don’t judge, it’s delicious!), or in my case, a good sized scoop of protein powder in my morning oatmeal. Cereal is lovely but ultimately you’ll be hungry an hour later because you won’t have what you need to keep you going!
What does a high protein, WW friendly day look like? Here’s what my typical protein consumption looks like on a weekday:
Breakfast - 5sp
½ cup of steel cut oats
1 cup of blueberries and strawberries
1 scoop of vegetarian protein powder or whey powder (21-35gs of protein)
1 cup of unsweetened soy milk (8gs of protein)
Lunch - 4sp
Red Lentil Dhal made with 3/4 cup of cooked lentils (14gs of protein)
*see recipe below*
½ cup quinoa (4gs of protein)
Afternoon Snack - 0sp
½ cup mangoes
1 cup fat free greek yogurt (24gs of protein)
Dinner - 6sp
Vegetable Stir Fry with ½ block of smoked tofu (18gs of protein)
½ c brown rice
Evening Snack - 4-7sp
Garden Veggie Straws
1 tbsp wow butter (4gs of protein) with a banana
On a day like this I’m looking at more than 90gs of protein. As a very active woman who weight trains regularly and does intense cardio twice a week, this is just about right. So, what about you? How do you make sure you’re getting the protein you need?
Here is a ridiculously easy and low point recipe for Red Lentil Pumpkin (or Squash) Dhal. I’ve adapted it from another great vegetarian website called Connoisseurus Veg . Fresh pumpkin is not always easy to find (I’ll sometimes find it in the Asian section of the grocery store) so you can substitute butternut squash if needed, just be aware that it will take a little longer for the squash to cook through. If you really want to save time you can always buy pre-cubed squash, as peeling and cubing the squash can be unexpectedly time consuming. The smaller the cubes, the faster your meal will cook.
Red Lentil Pumpkin or Squash Dhal
1sp per serving
4 tsps oil (canola, avocado or olive)
1 medium onion, diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp grated ginger
2-3 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp tumeric
½ tsp cinammon
¼ tsp red chilies (optional)
3 cups vegetable broth
1 large can of diced tomatoes
1 cup of dried red lentils (for best results, rinse in a strainer)
2-4 cups of peeled and cubed pumpkin or butternut squash
Salt to taste
Chopped cilantro to garnish
Heat oil in a large non-stick or cast iron saucepan over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook for about 5 minutes until softened. Add garlic and ginger. Mix cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinammon and chilies in a small dish and then sprinkle into the pan, stirring into the mixture. Cook for another minute or two.
Add broth, tomatoes (including liquid), lentils and cubed squash. Stir well. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat if necessary. Allow the whole mixture to cook for about 20-25 minutes (pumpkin) or 30-35 minutes (butternut), stirring well every few minutes to keep the lentils from sticking to the bottom of the sauce pan. Add salt if necessary.
Your Dhal is done when the squash has cooked through to your satisfaction. Garnish with cilantro. Top with a dollop of greek yogurt if you like it creamier.
Enjoy! - Serve with rice, quinoa, pitas or bread (for extra sp)