Archive for May, 2013

The Worlds Best Vegetarian Protein Sources

Last week we covered what we thought to be "the 10 worlds best protein sources." 

With over 200 "likes" on Facebook, there was surely some solid interest that topic…

… though several comments came through asking about vegetarian sources of protein.

While quinoa was included in our list of 10, many of the others were fish, beef, poultry, etc.

That being said, there’s definitely room for non meat sources of protein as well.

Like we had mentioned previously, the data continue to mound for the benefits of protein, with the majority now supporting a consistent intake throughout the day whether you’re trying to lose fat or gain muscle.  We’d argue that protein timing, meaning the frequency of intake throughout the day, trumps total protein intake (tweet this). 

Here are just a few of the benefits. 

  • Protein helps fill you up.
  • Protein helps your muscles repair and recover
  • Protein provides essential amino acids, that we need to get from the diet and our bodies need to function

Alright, that being said – here’s our picks in no particular order:

Worlds Best Vegetarian Protein Sources

  1. Quinoa.  Another vegetarian based protein, but unlike nuts, this one is a complete protein, meaning it has all the essential amino acids.  SCORE!  WIN if you’re a vegetarian.  WIN if you’re not.  I’d call that a "win win" for packing in a serious nutrient punch.  We made some the other night, in fact — cooked it in chicken broth, added a handful of toasted almond, some fresh herbs and some raisins.  This was a side with chicken breast and some Brussels sprouts.
  2. Black Beans.  These little buggers are loaded with protein.  While they’re not "complete" proteins, meaning they have all the essential amino acids, at 7 grams of protein per 1/2 cup they pack a wholloping protein punch.  Couple that protein with the same amount of fiber for that 1/2 cup, along with plenty of antioxidants and these are a no brainer, solid addition to salads, eggs, and wraps to name a few.
  3. Pistachios. With around 6 grams of protein per 49 nuts (1 serving), you get some serious bang for your buck with these.  Of course when you also consider pistachios are a great source of healthy, monounsaturated fats, fiber and plenty of vitamins and minerals, they make a fantastic snack option (particularly because they’re portable).
  4. Lentils.  It’s hard to compete with these as a vegetarian source of protein; at nearly 9 grams for just 1/2 cup, you’d be hard pressed to find as much protein in comparable servings of vegetarian based foods.  In fact, if you do the math, double that for 18 grams which is nearly equal in protein to 3 ounces of beef.  Of course beef has its own unique nutrients and was on our list of worlds greatest protein sources, but they’re both excellent in their own right.  Like black beans, lentils are not a complete protein, but since most people don’t focus solely on eating just one protein food and instead eat a variety of options, that’s not much of a concern for the majority.  The other nice thing about lentils is they cook up very quickly are also loaded with fiber (9 grams for that same 1/2 cup serving) and iron.
  5. Almonds.  Like pistachios, almonds offer about 6 grams per handful of nuts.  Outside of the protein, there is also lots of great data suggesting that eating 1-2 servings of nuts per day improves weight loss outcomes compared to those who eat none.  Choose nuts, like almonds and/or pistachios (walnuts, pecans, etc are all good too) as a snack — pair them with a piece of fruit and it’s a quick, easy fruit on the go.
  6. Soy milk.  Though this one is quite controversial, it’s hard to deny the protein you get in a small serving of soy milk.  At 8 grams per one cup of soy milk, which does provide all the essential amino acids, it’s certainly an option for those who are comfortable drinking soy.  This blog isn’t about GMOs or any of the other soy controversies, so when we’re solely talking protein, this is an way for vegetarians to get a decent serving.
  7. Whole eggs.  So if you’re a vegan, these won’t work, but most other vegetarians do include eggs, so it made the list again.  They’re just THAT good!  For the price and quality, it’s hard to find a comparable source of high quality protein out there.  And whole eggs is key – while the whites do have some protein, too, you get even more in the yolk, along with a whole slew of other great for you nutrients. Therefore, we put our vote in for whole Eggs are the worlds best protein source.
  8. Hummus.  If you’re not quite familiar with this Mediterranean delight, hummus is made from ground chickpeas, olive oil, salt, garlic and tahini (ground sesame seeds).  Then you can of course flavor it with whatever you’d like, but those are the basic ingredients.  When you then look at one of the ingredients, chickpeas, they’re loaded with protein themselves.  Add sesame seeds on top and, voila, you’ve got a fantastic source of protein.  Add hummus to wraps, use it on salad, or simply use it as a dip for veggies – 1/2 cup provides about 10 grams of quality protein.
  9. Peas.  While peas certainly aren’t the most popular vegetable in the world, the little green nuggets of goodness are a pretty decent source of protein.  Many vegan based protein powders use pea protein as one of the sources, but even eating whole peas offers about 10 grams of protein per cup.  Pretty good for a veggie!  Here’s a fun way to use these if you don’t think you’re a fan.  Make your own guacamole — use 1 full avocado, 1 cup of pureed peas (you can defrost frozen ones and then blend them), a pinch of salt, dash of cayenne pepper, the juice of 1 whole lime and cilantro, to taste.  Mix it all together and you get the guacamole flavor with an added boost of pea protein, yet 200 less total calories.
  10. Broccoli.  Calorie for calorie, broccoli is offers a pretty solid amount of protein.  For 1 cup of cooked broccoli, you get about 4 grams of protein yet just 55 calories.  With 5 grams of fiber for that same 1 cup, this green veggie should certainly be high in the list of options.  It’s also loaded with other nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.  We love it here in eggs, on pizza, in wraps or as a way to scoop up plenty of the hummus listed above.

Regardless if you’re a vegetarian or not, eating some vegetarian based foods on occasion is a wise idea.  As you can see from the choices above, it’s not just about protein but these foods are also loaded with plenty of other nutrients.  Mix it up.  Sometimes use sources from our worlds best proteins blog and others use ones from this blog.  Or, better yet, combine the two — beef with a side of broccoli and quinoa, for example.  Or top a chicken of fish taco with guacamole made with peas.  The options are endless.  And the importance of protein can’t be overstated.  Combining protein (and fiber) with each meal and snack is one of the most important nutrition tips (tweet this).

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The Worlds Best Protein Sources

There are a ton of great proteins available.

And if you ask 10 different people what the BEST source of protein is, you’ll likely get 10 different answers.  But before we talk about the BEST protein sources, why does it even matter?

best protein sources in the worldThe data continue to mound for the benefits of protein, with the majority now supporting a consistent intake throughout the day whether you’re trying to lose fat or gain muscle.  We’d argue that protein timing, meaning the frequency of intake throughout the day, trumps total protein intake (tweet this).

The majority of people eat very little protein for breakfast and lunch, then load up at dinner.  Instead, a better approach would be to spread that same total amount throughout the day.

For example, if someone ate 90 total grams of protein in a day, it would be better to have a few meals with 15-30 grams of protein each than just 1 protein heavy dinner and little throughout the rest of the day.

The reason is protein helps fill you, it helps your muscles repair and recover from exercise, and quality proteins, like the worlds best sources of protein listed below, provide the important amino acids we all need to function optimally.

That being said, we now present to you:

The Worlds Best Protein Sources

  1. Whole eggs.  While these are in no particular order, if there was a #1, whole eggs could arguably top the list.  For the price and quality, it’s hard to find a comparable source of high quality protein out there.  And whole eggs is key – while the whites do have some protein, too, you get even more in the yolk, along with a whole slew of other great for you nutrients. Therefore, we put our vote in for whole Eggs are the worlds best protein source.
  2. Wild salmon.  Wild salmon is loaded with protein.  With around 7 grams per ounce, it’s certainly something to include on the weekly menu.  It’s also loaded with great for you omega-3 fats, which are one of the most important nutrients you should eat more of.  We’ve often said with animal based proteins, the less legs the better — which means fish are at the top of the list.  Yes, yes, octopus and some others are exceptions — in general, stick to that rule of thumb when thinking animal/fish protein. 
  3. Cottage cheese.  This one is super popular in the Mohr House — though Kara took a little longer to come around to it, the protein packed goodness (16 grams for just 1/2 cup) was hard to resist and she’s now a big fan.   I tried something the other day to get away from the basic cottage cheese and fruit — a couple spoonfuls on a Wasa crisp, some cracked black pepper and chopped jalapeno.  Awesome!  It’s a perfect snack … and if you can’t get over the curds, trying blending it in a smoothie or just blending it with a little fruit.  We’ve even added a spoonful to spaghetti (poor man lasagna), oatmeal, pancake batter … or, if you’re like me, by the spoonful out of the container.  Mangia! 
  4. Beef.  It’s hard to knock the quality protein in beef.  It’s loaded with quality amino acids (building blocks of protein), zinc, iron, magnesium and plenty of other important nutrients.  Stick with some of the leaner cuts like eye of round roast or steak, sirloin tip side steak, sirloin steak, or flank steaks.  And it doesn’t have to just be a steak or a burger, try making fajitas with beef or top a salad with sliced flank.  It’s good, good stuff.
  5. Greek yogurt.  At around 16 grams per cup, this is a no brainer.  Greek yogurt came fast and furious on the scene in the US — with basically zero percent market share five years ago to almost 50% to date.  And for good reason.  With double the protein of "regular" yogurt and half the sugar, it’s a great choice for a snack or even a meal when you mix something with a bit of substance — nuts, fruit, etc.
  6. Sardines.  We listed these as one of the best foods you’re not eating in our blog the other day.  They’re loaded with protein, but also omega-3 fats and vitamin D, yet low in contaminants that unfortunately permeate our seafood today.
  7. Whey protein.  I was told in school that protein supplements created expensive urine.  Good thing I always questioned what I learned because that couldn’t be further from the truth. Whey protein is loaded with amino acids, particularly some key aminos called branched chain amino acids, that may specifically aid in recovery and muscle repair.  But, honestly, while we can talk about the science with whey ’till we’re blue in the head, it comes down to convenience.  Making a smoothie with a little fruit, maybe some veggies and a handful of nuts is a fantastic meal or snack.  It’s quick.  It’s easy.  It’s convenient.  And at around $2-$3 per 20 grams of protein, it’s high on our list of the best protein sources in the world.
  8. Poultry (chicken, turkey, etc).  Remember from above — the less legs the better?  Well, these buggers have 2 legs each, so they’re high on the list.  We roast a whole chicken at least once per week to have for dinner and have a convenient, quality lunch option for the next day or two.  Short on time?  Pick up an already cooked rotisserie chicken from your local grocery store.  This one is a no brainer.  Same with turkey — don’t just save this one for Thanksgiving Day, we’ll often get a boneless turkey breast at the grocery store and roast that on a Sunday for us and the girls to snack on during the week.
  9. Nuts.  OK, OK, so these aren’t the highest source of amino acids — in fact, they’re a bit limited.  BUT, their convenience helped them make the list of worlds best protein sources.  They’re a perfect snack, portable and not perishable.  That means you can forget about them in your desk, gym bag or locker and when you find them a month later, they’ll still taste fantastic.  They’re also a great source of loads of vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and fiber.  Eat up!
  10. Quinoa.  Another vegetarian based protein, but unlike nuts, this one is a complete protein, meaning it has all the essential amino acids.  SCORE!  WIN if you’re a vegetarian.  WIN if you’re not.  I’d call that a "win win" for packing in a serious nutrient punch.  We made some the other night, in fact — cooked it in chicken broth, added a handful of toasted almond, some fresh herbs and some raisins.  This was a side with chicken breast and some Brussels sprouts. 

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7 Best Foods You’re NOT Eating (but should)

7 best foods you're not eating (but should)You’ll hear talk about super this and wonder that.  Nutrients that come from the deep, dark caves of some exotic place that you can only get by going there and cultivating it yourself … or spending way too much money for an ingredient that’s likely more hype than substance.

Today, though, we’re talking about 7 of the BEST foods you’re not eating (but should be)!

 

  1. Sardines - the usual response when we suggest sardines is a scrunched up nose and big bug eyes.  Maybe it’s the quality.  These little incredibly nutrient dense fish are SUPER high in omega-3′s, high in vitamin D, and very low in contaminants.  They’re truly at the top of this list because they’re nutritional powerhouses!  Try them instead of tuna for a sandwich — or, what I like, is mixing them with some avocado, some olive oil and balsamic vinegar and have them on a sprouted grain tortilla with a handful of greens.  YUM!  Both Small Planet and Bella Sardines are personal favorites you can find in most grocery stores; we  have found a difference in quality, so certainly give these a whirl and let us know what you think.

  2. Swiss chard – this green leafy veggie is a rock star in terms of veggies.  Unfortunately it’s often left on the shelf for it’s more popular "cousin" – leaf lettuce.  But Swiss chard can be used just like lettuce.  Chop it up fine as the base of a salad, saute it with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper or throw handfuls into a soup or a smoothie.  It will cook down and load your  food with nutrients like vitamin K, calcium and antioxidants. We’re growing a ton of it this year in our own garden — all the Mohr’s are big fans, including 18 month old Sophia. 
  3. Brussels sprouts – or, what Ella named "Muscle Sprouts" last Thanksgiving.  Nothing cuter than a 2.5 year old asking "can I have more muscle sprouts, please?"  We know your previous experience with these.  Your mom used to boil them until they became a putrid green color, then usually coated them in butter and salt hoping to create some fans.  Or worse, maybe they opened up a can only to find the same overcooked, mushy tasting spheres of goodness.  When cooked right, these are fantastic and pack in some serious nutrients.  Here’s what we like to do — cut them in half or quarter them, drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and saute (or roast in the oven).  Just when they start to get tender and are almost done, drizzle a bit of balsamic vinegar over them (drizzle, don’t pour) and cook for another minute or so.  Voila, you too will be asking for more!  We’re having some tonight, in fact!
  4. Adzuki beans – these little buggers have more protein and fiber than most other beans.  You can find them in most grocery stores, often in the bulk section.  They’re smaller than black beans and reddish brown in color but loaded with nutrients. In fact, these little guys contain some of the highest levels of protein and lowest levels of fat of any variety of beans. They’re also loaded with fiber, potassium and zinc (among others).  Add them to salads, chili (or soups), or as Ella likes to do — pack a container of these with frozen peas.  Let those defrost overnight in the fridge, then snack on them the next day.
  5. Cottage cheese – Little Miss Muffet was one, smart girl when she talked about "eating her curds and whey."  Cottage cheese is a HUGE hit in the Mohr House — with about 16 grams of protein per half cup, it’s perfect for a snack or added to any meal.  A favorite is cottage cheese and pineapple, but I tried something recently that I can’t get enough of.  A Wasa Crisp cracker, topped with cottage cheese, black pepper and finely chopped fresh jalapeno pepper.  AWESOME!  Considering most people don’t A) eat enough protein and B) spread their protein evenly throughout the day, cottage cheese should definitely be part of the diet.  If you aren’t a fan of curds — blend it to make it smooth.  It’s hard to get a high quality protein like cottage cheese in such a small amount.  1/2 cup — 16 grams?  YES, please!
  6. Quinoa — this one has certainly made waves over the last couple years.  It’s a grain that’s loaded in fiber and is also a complete protein.  It’s quick to make — takes about 20 minutes — and can be eaten plain or mixed with some favorite ingredients.  We like to make it with chicken broth, then toss in a variety of fresh herbs for a unique flavor.  You can even try it in place of oatmeal for breakfast; add some cranberries, walnuts and coconut for a savory nutrient dense breakfast.
  7. Hemp seeds — not THAT kind of hemp.  The edible, hulled hemp seeds that are growing in popularity.  These little seeds offer a great, nutty flavor that packs a good dose of omega 3 and 6 fats, is high in protein and fiber, and adds some nice texture to cottage cheese or yogurt.  We also love them in smoothies, oatmeal or if you make a homemade granola, mixed in there too. 

This list can go on, but we wanted to give a nice starting point.

Which one of these foods will you pick up at the grocery store the next time you go?  Remember, small changes = big results, so pick one you’ll at least try, then stick with it and experiment.  As for kids, it may take up to 15 attempts to understand if they like a food (or not), so if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!

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What’s Gluten Got To Do With It?

Gluten is certainly all the rage.

And considering May is Celiac Awareness Month, we thought there’s no time like the present to talk a bit about this ever so hot topic.

From the ever so popular Paleo Diets popularized by Crossfit Gyms everywhere to celebrities claiming how going gluten free is the secret to weight loss success.

The list can go on … fitness pros to celebrities, diet docs to soccer moms.  In fact, it’s so popular we saw a "Gluten Free" at the Kentucky Derby!  Yes, amidst the horses, bourbon, mint juleps and a sea full of hats … a gluten free stand inside Churchill Downs.

So what is gluten anyhow?

Why does it get such a bad wrap? And is it deserved or a hyped up "diet secret" of the stars?

Gluten is a protein found in many carbohydrates, such as wheat, barley, and rye, among others.  Basically, most cereals, pastas, breads, and the like contain gluten.  Of course there are gluten free alternatives to these products as well.

Let’s take a step back for a minute.  There is a specific autoimmune disorder where people don’t digest gluten — this is called Celiac disease — and it affects 5-10% of the population. Again, May is Celiac Awareness Month.

Outside of those with Celiac, gluten still gets a bad wrap. 

Here are some of the reasons people have told us or cite for eliminating gluten:

  1. It’s not digested properly
  2. It bloats them
  3. It causes weight gain
  4. It hurts recovery from training
  5. It causes joint pain
  6. Our ancestors didn’t eat grains, so why should they?

Outside of the last one, 1-5 are all symptoms of a person who may have  celiac.  So the first thing a person should do is to get tested to see if they truly have gluten sensitivity. Even if the test does come back negative, however, there is still a possibility of non celiac gluten sensitivity. 

Having worked with people who have celiac in the past, true gluten insensitivity can be challenging.  There are cases where you have you use different cooking tools as the tiny bit of cross contamination from one pot to another or toaster to another, for example, could cause a reaction.

But those who try to eliminate gluten — without a true diagnosis or sensitivity — surely wouldn’t have that same concern.

What we often tell people when it comes to gluten is that foods with gluten are not inherently "bad."  On the flip side, the foods that often do contain gluten may not be the best.

Eating loads of refined carbohydrates — bread, cereal, pasta, muffins, pastries, etc — certainly isn’t great. 

Please do drastically reduce these in the diet.  It’s not a knock on gluten itself, but the sugar, food colorings, and other junky ingredients that are added to these (Froot Loops anyone?).

Also, what people often don’t think about, is just how many foods may actually have some form of gluten in them … from soy sauce to hot dogs, ketchup, beer and deli meats.

And beer … who wants to give up beer?  While the debunked argument of "eating like our ancestors" continues to resurface, we can assure you if Caveman had access to beer, they would drink it!  Regularly (heck, what else was there to do?)

At the end of the day, here’s our take:

  1. Gluten itself is not bad (nor do you need to give it up) — unless you have a true gluten sensitivity (like Celiac). 
  2. Many of the common foods that have gluten are junky — processed, overly sugared garbage — so toss those
  3. Gluten free doesn’t necessarily mean healthy.  I’ve seen and eaten gluten free cookies, hot dogs and many other similar foods.
  4. If you think you are sensitive, focus on naturally occurring gluten free grains.  These are high in fiber and loaded with great nutrients.  Here’s a short list of some solid choices:
    • Amaranth
    • Buckwheat
    • Nut flours (like almond flour)
    • Coconut flour
    • Chickpea flour
    • Quinoa

Don’t necessarily throw gluten under the bus.  It’s currently "trendy" to do so, but simply make smarter choices, focus on high fiber grains vs. refined junky carbs, and you’ll be doing a great job in terms of making strides to reach your physical goals.

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Eat THIS to Decrease Cravings (cool new study)

Like fashion, diet trends come and go …

…I surely can’t speak to fashion, but do follow the nutrition trends pretty closely.

The most recent trend that is growing in popularity is skipping breakfast or, using the more ‘trendy’ terminology "intermittent fasting" where you fast for a period of time (12, 16, 20ish hours) and then "refeed" during the remainder of the day. 

eat whole eggs for fat lossIt may work for some.  For us.  For our clients.  And according to the majority of research, eating breakfast is a better approach.

More than a "better approach" — at Team Mohr we believe it’s arguably the most important time to eat in the day.

The key is making the right choices.

Sugar cereals, Pop Tarts or a Latte with a muffin are not the way to go.

On the flip side, any of the 5 options we suggest below would be much better to help fill you up, fuel your body and give you the energy needed to do what you need to do in the morning.

In fact, just recently, good friend Dr. Heather Leidy published some interesting data showing that when you choose a high protein breakfast — 35 grams vs. 13 grams in this study — you will snack less on high fat/high sugar foods later in the day.  The higher protein breakfast was also compared to skipping breakfast all together.  And both times, the high protein breakfast came out on top and was shown to decrease cravings later in the day.  It doesn’t mean you have to always eat exactly 35 grams of protein, but bumping up the normal intake is surely be a wise idea.

In other words, starting your day with protein can help decrease cravings later in the day. 

Here are 5 Simple High Protein Breakfast ideas to help you decrease cravings later in the day.

  1. 2 whole egg omelet with smoked salmon, 2 slices cheese (we like Cabot snack size bites for 6 grams protein each) and unlimited amounts of veggies and a piece of fruit.
  2. 1 Plain Greek yogurt with a handful of nuts, berries and a sprinkle of Granola
  3. Mix 1 scoop whey protein, fruit, almond or soy or dairy milk, spoonful of peanut or almond butter and blend away.
  4. Sewn Oats:  Add 1/2 whole rolled oats to a bowl, mix in cinnamon, 1 scoop whey protein, almond/soy or dairy milk, raisins.  Mix to combine all ingredients and refrigerate overnight.  It will be ready to go in AM, without needing  to cook.
  5. 2 hole hard boiled eggs, 1 piece of fruit (great for on the go)

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