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The power of protein

AUG 07, 2014
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Protein plays an essential role in health, and it is found in every cell, tissue, and organ in the human body. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a daily intake of 56 grams of protein for adult men and 46 grams of protein for adult women.

Big steaks, juicy pork chops, mouth-watering chicken — these are the foods many people associate with protein. The surprising truth is that protein can be found in a variety of other foods. In fact, cutting back on meat sources of protein can have a positive impact on the amount of fat you consume.

So if you’re hungry for delicious ways to make great food choices, consider these protein sources:

  • Dairy: low-fat milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, mozzarella
  • Legumes: beans, lentils, soy, tofu
  • Vegetables and fruits: peas, broccoli, spinach, kale, avocado
  • Grains: quinoa, brown rice, barley
  • Nuts and seeds: peanut butter, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, almonds

Get creative with your cooking. Try a spinach and mozzarella omelet for a high-protein breakfast. Or combine black beans, brown rice, and avocado for a protein-packed lunch. Try a protein shake with banana, low-fat milk, protein powder, and ice.

And settle in for a seasonal supper with this hearty soup from Kaiser Permanente’s Preston Maring, MD (pictured above). It packs a whopping 12 grams of protein per serving.

Farewell to Dr. Maring

In fact, this soup will be one to savor, as Dr. Maring is hanging up his apron and retiring from Kaiser Permanente at year’s end. From blueberry cornmeal pancakes to turkey chili to smoked salmon pizza, he’s been sharing recipes for better breakfasts, lunches, and dinners at kp.org since 2003.

Dr. Maring also founded Kaiser Permanente’s farmers markets and has been a vocal advocate for using locally farmed organic produce in the health care industry, as well as in the home.

Of course, you can still get great healthy recipes online at kp.org/recipes.

White Bean and Greens Soup

Loaded with protein (and fiber, too!) this wintry soup makes a hearty and nutritious meal. Season generously with dried herbs of your choosing and top each steaming bowl with freshly shaved Parmesan cheese.

  • 1 bunch kale, very coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 bunch chard, very coarsely chopped
  • 1 big yellow onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 5 medium tomatoes, diced large
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mixture of dried herbs such as thyme, basil, marjoram, or oregano
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup coarsely minced parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Sauté the onion for a few minutes until it begins to soften. Add the garlic and chili flakes and sauté another minute. Stir in the tomatoes, kale, chard, and about 2/3 of the beans. Add 5 cups of stock. Bring to a boil and simmer a few minutes.

Puree the remaining beans with the last cup of stock in a blender and add to the soup. Simmer another 15 minutes or until the kale is tender. If you have one, use an immersion blender to thicken the soup. Alternatively, you can add some of the soup to a blender, puree it, and return it to the pot. (Be sure to leave an opening in the lid so the steam escapes and the top doesn’t blow off.) Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley.

Serves 5

Nutrition information per serving:

  • Calories: 256
  • Fat: 7 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 42
  • Fiber: 12 g
  • Sugars: 8 g
  • Sodium: 466 mg
  • Protein: 12 g

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