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Make Sure You Include Protein When Prepping Your Plate

Not just for bodybuilders, protein is a crucial part of any diet. A building block for just about every part of your body, protein makes it possible for organs and limbs to grow, bones and muscles to heal, and much more. So if you’re not considering protein when planning your meals, you might be missing out big time.

Why You Need Protein

The human body needs protein to build and repair tissue, as well as to produce vital enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. It’s important to bones, muscles, and cartilage—and even skin and blood. Interestingly, though, your body cannot store protein for later use, instead using whatever is available whenever it is needed. That means you need a steady supply of protein. How much protein do you need daily? Multiply your weight in pounds by 0.36 (double the result if you lead a very active lifestyle). That is your recommended daily allowance of protein.

The Role of Animal Proteins

Some of the best sources of protein include eggs, milk, yogurt, fish, chicken, and turkey.

With many people choosing to eat vegetarian or vegan diets, the question of animal versus plant protein often comes up. This is because what are known as complete proteins are found primarily in animal sources, while plant-based proteins typically lack one or more of the nine essential amino acids. This is why vegetarians and vegans must be sure to consume a variety of plant-based proteins in order to ensure they get all the necessary amino acids in their diet.

Non-Animal Proteins

While you can get only certain enzymes from animal protein, there are many plant sources of protein. Some of the best non-animal versions of protein include beans (pinto beans, black beans, and chickpeas each have about eight grams in half cup), nuts (black walnuts and almonds are high in protein and low in saturated fat), tofu (about 10 grams per half cup), and seitan (a wheat gluten meat substitute that is high in protein and iron, and low in fat). And quinoa gets special mention as a rare plant-sourced complete protein.

What’s more, even some vegetables have small amounts of protein. Good choices in this category include greens such as spinach, watercress, and collards as well as broccoli and asparagus.

The bottom line is that while it is essential to include adequate protein in your diet, it’s not that difficult to do it in a tasty way.

Try this chef-approved recipe for a spicy steak.

Gochujang-Marinated Skirt Steak Recipe

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste), plus more for serving
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for grill
3 tablespoons plus ½ cup seasoned rice vinegar
Kosher salt
1 medium red onion, halved through root end
1 skirt steak (about 1 pound), halved crosswise
Warm tortillas (for serving)

Directions:

Combine 3 Tbsp. gochujang, 3 Tbsp. oil, and 3 Tbsp. vinegar in a large resealable plastic bag. Throw in several generous pinches of salt and grate in half of onion on the large holes of a box grater. Add steak and seal bag, pressing out air, then rub steak to coat; chill at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.

Meanwhile, thinly slice remaining half of onion and combine in a large bowl with remaining ½ cup vinegar and a pinch of salt. Let sit until onion is softened, at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours; drain.

Prepare a grill for medium-high heat; oil grate. Remove steak from bag, letting excess marinade drip off; discard marinade. Grill, turning once or twice, until lightly charred on the outside and medium-rare in the thickest part, 4–6 minutes, depending on the thickness of the meat. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes before thinly slicing against the grain.

Season meat with more salt and serve with tortillas, pickled onion, and more gochujang.

Serve with pickled onions and flour tortillas warmed according to package directions.

Be sure to check back next week to read about another component of a healthy plate.

The Pickled Beet incorporates all essential dietary elements into many tasty and healthy recipes for our Miami clients.We work with individuals, couples, and families to find meals that are flavorful, healthy, and best fuel the body no matter what nutritional requirements might be part of the equation. Contact us for a free consultation.

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