The eternal question: where do you get your proteins?
A question I never even asked myself before I changed my diet. It never occurred to me to check how many grams of protein I was eating: apart from fats and sugars and total calories, the rest seemed taken for granted. I became a little obsessed at the beginning of my transition to meet all my goals perfectly, every day, as if my body activated an imaginary reset button at midnight, each day a lonely, self-sufficient item. It is true that protein deficiency in Western societies is pretty rare, it doesn’t mean though that we can overlook the importance of what comes in, especially as years go by and nutrition starts to have a noticeable effect on your stamina and general health.
Nowadays I’m a bit more relaxed about this stuff, even though I do try to plan my meals around a variety of sources that lead to a good-enough score. I decided to archive staple daily combinations of proteins, equations that I could easily reproduce without thinking too much about what I’m doing. I do not prepare my meals around recipes most of the time, but around what my body needs. I thought these combinations might help other people starting on this plant-based eating journey, so I’ve decided to adapt them to a general, 2000 calories diet, based on 50 gram daily intake of proteins, which is north of what most women need and south of what most men need. Of course, if you’re a 6’4 man running ultramarthons or a breastfeeding mom, adjust accordingly. These will be guidelines of combinations that will help you reach a good balance of proteins, but the quantities will need to be adjusted to your specific needs. And let’s remember that there is no reset button at midnight, so even if you don’t score your lysine one day, you can always make up for it the next! The idea is to not accumulate any deficit. Bare in mind as well that the rest of what we eat does add proteins to our daily intake: fruits and vegetables and other grains will add up in the end, even though individually each item is not necessarily considered as a source of proteins. I also try to follow a rule of thumb that the amount of calories I get from proteins do not exceed 30% of my daily needs. I never really calculate this, beyond these combinations, because I eat a pretty balanced diet anyway (not keto, paleo or any-o)
The targets have been determined with the help of WebMd and the Health Canada. If you think the chosen general targets are not appropriate, please let me know in the comments! The combinations were analysed with Cron-o-meter, a super helpful and free platform to analyse your food intake.
And for the last time, these are just guidelines that have helped me plan my daily meals, and I though that if they help me they might help other people. I have been a full time vegan for more than a year and a closeted vegan for two years prior to that, so I have a good amount of personal experience in making my own vegan meals. And my blood tests are more than fine! The thing is, I don’t cook very much on a daily basis: I prepare food, I prepare meals, so usually I’ll combine vegetables beans and grains and call it a meal. That’s why these combinations work for me, I just need to add the fruits and veggies and cook everything and that’s it! It works for me and if it can help other people, I’m happy.
So here is the first combination I chose, that include what I would eat for breakfast (oatmeal and milk), snack (peanut butter) and lunch and supper (beans, lentils and quinoa). We’ll see how pattern emerge in the next combinations…
So from these sources of proteins, here are a few recipes that I could follow that combine these ingredients. Then again, I usually don’t do that but know some people can’t function without a recipe!
Basic quick steel cut oats recipe (replace water with milk or just make yourself a nice soy milk latte like I do!)
or something fancy….
Steel Cut Oats with Roasted Berries replace the cow milk with the soy milk
I’m always a fan of the Minimalist Baker and I love her cookie and snack balls recipe, so here is one with a bit of peanut butter and some oats:
5-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cup Energy Bites but if you want to be super minimalist, just dip your apple slices in some PB!
And now for the lunch and supper ideas:
If you’re like me, just make cook everything, throw in some frozen veggies with the lentils and a can of tomatoes and avocado with the black beans and basta!
And here are the results when it comes to the protein goals, for 1130 calories: