Vegetarian Times Plant-Powered Protein Cookbook: Over 200 Healthy & Delicious Whole-Food Dishes
Food fads come and go (Remember the kale craze?), but your body’s needs remain the same. Protein is one of those primary needs. Long before protein attained the food sensation status that it now enjoys, Vegetarian Times was paying close attention to the essential nutrient and making sure our recipes had enough of it. We had to. New vegetarians were constantly asking us, “Will I get enough protein?” (Yes!) Longtime vegetarians and vegans regularly turned to us for wholesome, delicious dishes that they could incorporate into a balanced diet. And, the nutritional information we’ve always included with our recipes meant there was no way to ignore protein counts any more than we could ignore fat or calories.
Now, at long last, what Vegetarian Times has known for nearly fifty years has become part of the mainstream health message: Vegetarian protein sources are important for everyone, everywhere, regardless of age, lifestyle, or diet. Author and activist Michael Pollan sums it up in his three simple food rules: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” These rules echo the number one health recommendation from the World Health Organization, to “eat a variety of foods mainly from plants, rather than animals.” There are signs that Americans are heeding this advice, with meat consumption falling 19 percent between 2005 and 2014. Favoring plant-based proteins in your diet is also critical for the environment. Animal agriculture remains one of the lead causes of climate change; the livestock industry produces more greenhouse gases than does transportation. Understanding how to make the most of the plant-based proteins means you can do your part to save the planet while ensuring a healthy lifestyle for yourself.
With this cookbook, Vegetarian Times hopes to take the meat-free protein message one step further. We want to show how to integrate protein-rich recipes into everyday home cooking for optimum wellness and maximum satisfaction. The 200 recipes that follow are ample proof of how easy it is to make tasty, nourishing, satisfying, protein-rich dishes for any occasion.
THE BENEFITS OF A PROTEIN-RICH DIET
Health care professionals, nutritionists, fitness coaches, and diet experts all agree: Getting enough protein is the key to reaching wellness goals. Need to lose weight? Protein helps curb hunger pangs and keeps you satisfied on your diet. Looking to get in better shape? Protein provides the building blocks for muscle mass and sustains energy levels. Want to stave off chronic disease? Diets rich in healthy proteins have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers. Trying to balance your meals to avoid the ping-pong hunger effect that leads to snacking and sluggishness? Again, paying attention to protein can help. But, protein isn’t a dietary supplement or a lab compound. Protein is found in foods (even those high-protein powders used in fitness shakes are derived from something edible). The goal, then, isn’t to pursue Protein with a capital “P,” but to seek out protein-rich foods and recipes that nourish and satisfy while delivering key nutrients as well.
In this cookbook, we’ll focus on nutrient-dense, protein-rich foods, how they fit into delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes, and how to make them a part of your cooking routine. We’ve chosen the term “nutrient-dense” over “vegetarian” for a couple of reasons. First, this book isn’t just for vegetarians. Nutrient-dense, protein-rich diets are recommended and beneficial for everyone. The term also allows us to single out protein-rich foods that are high in other essential nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. And it lets us exclude nutrient-poor, high-protein options that may still be vegetarian or plant-based. Take processed “fake meats” found in most supermarkets today. These may be free of animal products and they can be tasty, but aside from protein, they offer very little in the way of other nutrients. (They can also contain hidden sugars and high levels of sodium, which are best avoided.)
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