One of the most frequently asked questions I hear regarding my vegan diet is “Where do you get your protein?”
Rather than going into a lengthy diatribe about how most American get 1.5 times the recommend protein requirements….
Completely avoiding the discussion dispelling the myth of complimentary proteins or incomplete proteins,,,
And rather than talk about how much protein is in whole grain, lentils, broccoli, spinach….and even frozen strawberries...
Let me simply offer you this:
These creamy, white cannellini beans are your new protein-packed best friend. This is my trick for sneaking healthy vegan protein into a plethora of recipes.
1) Texture: Their creamy, soft texture makes them ideal for pureeing into soups. Where a typical “Cream of X” soup might traditionally contain a flour roux or dairy cream to give it rich flavor and texture, these beans make a healthy substitute instead.
2) Neutral Color: Their neutral, white color lets them hide even behind verdant broccoli in Cream of Broccoli Soup or Creamy Potato Leek.
3) Cheap, Accessible: My local Whole Foods sells a can of these for 99 cents. When was the last time you bought anything under $1? Even at the supermarket, an iced tea will often ring up over the dollar mark. To go organic, might bump it up to $1.50. You can find these beans (or even their close cousins Navy Beans and Great Northern Beans) at any grocery. This is budget-free fuel that you can keep in your pantry at all times.
4) Friendly to Most Diets: Beans avoid many of the most common allergies and food sensitives that most often occur. They are naturally gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, shellfish-free, and nut-free. Where some sauces might be thickened with a flour roux, you can swap out for beans. Where a Caesar dressing might be thickened with eggs, now you can use beans. Rich vegan sauces are often thickened with cashews, but beans will deliciously do the job.
As a chef, I love the versatility these beans offer. As a nutritionist, I love that beans are also a good source of fiber, iron, B vitamins…and they might make you live to 100.
Two tips for using canned beans:
1) If possible, get no salt added beans.
2) Always drain and rinse the beans thoroughly under running water – this rinses off any salt and, more importantly, that unappetizing canned bean goopy flavor.
It’s time to stock up on a few cans of cannellinis. Start sneaking them into your recipes.
Yes, you can get plenty of protein on a whole foods, plant-based diet. And no, you don’t have to eat mounds of tofu.
NCHStats: Blog of the National Center for Health Statistics: Adults’ daily protein intake much more than recommended, March 3, 2010: http://nchstats.com/category/protein/
Forks Over Knives: The Myth of Complementary Protein, by Jeff Novick, MS, RD, June 3, 2013: http://www.forksoverknives.com/the-myth-of-complementary-protein/
Plants-Rule: Why Beans Might Make You Live to 100 by Katie Simmons, October 4, 2015, http://www.plants-rule.com/blog/2015/10/2/why-beans-might-make-you-live-to-100.