Meatless Mondays: Combining Foods for Optimum Plant Proteins

As I looked over various charts, intent upon studying how certain combined foods will form proteins, I recalled a statement from an earlier post and felt I must share this with you as well.  I feel I would be remiss to continue to call plant proteins as 'complete proteins'.  I was reminded of this in reading another blog's comments on a post that stated peanut butter nor beans and rice were 'complete' proteins and  again this morning as I was studying this matter.  Protein provides amino acids.  Amino acids MUST have protein in order to form.  Plant proteins provide some of the amino acids required by our body but not all.  Keep this in mind if you want to explore eating more plant based protein meals.

Now that said I thought this particular site was the most helpful, mainly because it provided the information in distinct categories.  This site suggested you should start with a BASE for building protein.  Base foods are:

Category 1:  Breads, Cereals, and Grains
You should choose whole grain products.  Rye, wheat, oat, rice, spelt, quinoa, Long Grain Brown Rice, Whole wheat products and Whole grain cereals.    These include; breakfast cereal, pasta, noodles, flour products, etc.

Any item from Category 1 should be combined with any item from any of the next three food groups below.  Often recipes combine several from each category but it's helpful to know that the base will work with just one other food, isn't it?

Category 2:  Legumes
Dried peas, beans and lentils:  Black, kidney, pinto, navy, black eyed peas, runner beans, chick peas, sweet green peas (canned or fresh), bean sprouts.

Category 3:  Vegetables
Leafy Green and Cruciferous Vegetables: This would include lettuces, kales, spinach, turnip and collard greens, Swiss chard and I should think Beet greens as well. I think if this read dark leafy greens it would be a better indicator.  Cruciferous vegetables are cabbages, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, Bok Choy, turnip root, horseradish and rutabaga, watercress.   Any of the foods from the Brassica genus are cruciferous.

Please note here that many other vegetables have a protein count but they do not combine with whole grains to form a more complete protein.  However, do feel free to add any other vegetables you so desire to add flavor and increase overall nutrients.  You can find a complete listing of overall protein count for vegetables here, but again, while this will add to the nutrient value the remaining vegetables do not bond with the whole grain to form a complete protein.

Category 4:  Nuts and Seeds
Nuts:  Almonds, Walnuts, Cashews, Pecans, Pine, Hazel, Hickory, Brazil, and Pistachio
Seeds: Sesame, Pumpkin, Peanuts, Sunflower, Hemp, Chia, Poppy and Flax

This category would also contain the nut and seed butters (like tahini). 

You can look up any of these categories for yourself on line and find a much longer listing of possible additions, but I think I covered the most common and the most protein heavy. 


Debbie said...

I have been trying to replace most of our breads and pastas with whole grain and whole wheat choices. My hubby has 2 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches per day 5 days a week so I want to make sure that he is getting a complete protein to keep him going on his job. We are also trying to eat healthier around here and I am looking for more ways to use beans where my husband will eat them. ;)

Lana said...

It is interesting that things that most people combine anyway are ones that make complete proteins, like PBJ. I am glad to know that my favorite hummus and pita bread is a complete protein, too.

Debbie-I used to have bean night once a week when the kids were growing up and that night was always the one that hubby had to work late and run through McD's. :) He does much better with beans now. I think it is just eating them enough to learn to really like them.

Kathy said...

Thanks for the tips.

Debby in KS said...

LOL at your husband avoiding beans. My husband was pretty similar when we got married. He didn't work late, but his enthusiasm for beans was bad enough that I avoided making them for years. But then I really missed them!!! I grew up in a Hispanic family and that meant 3 things were on the table at EVERY SINGLE MEAL. Pinto beans, red sauce, & homemade tortillas. I finally just made some pintos the way my grandma made them. With a few slices of bacon, a sprinkle of garlic, & pepper. He devoured them. I've since gotten him to eat several types of beans he swore he hated, including limas. In fact, he'll even ask for them if I haven't made them in a couple of weeks.

The one thing I haven't made to either of our liking is lentils....they always taste like dirt to me. My friend did convert her family into lentil eaters so I think there's still hope for us there lol.

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