If you’ve been following my blog for a while now (which if you haven’t, you really should start because I’m seriously quite adorable) you may have noticed that mi papa is the only one in this house that consumes the meals I whip up containing red meat, chicken or turkey. Why? Well, it’s not because he is too much of pig and won’t share these dishes with mi mama… although I have seen him do that when around a pan of brownies. No, it’s simply because mi mama is a vegetarian. Well actually, if you want to get more technical, she’s a vegetarian who once every two or three months will partake in a piece or two (or twelve) of salmon sashimi when out on a sushi date with mi papa. Overall, though, she does not eat any red meat, pork, chicken, turkey, dog, cat, antelope, kangaroo, etc. Many assume her refusal to eat animals is due to some sort of passion against animal cruelty or even for health reasons. No no, the main reason she stopped consuming meat many many years ago was simply because she no longer liked the taste of it. Over the years, her drive to maintain her vegetarianism has definitely been encouraged by those other factors and she enjoys knowing that both her body and those of farm animals benefit from her abstaining from meat.
One of the main questions mi mama gets asked the most when opening up about her vegetarianism (besides the inane “So do you just eat a bunch of lettuce) is, “But where do you get your protein?” I always love when she gets asked this question because it allows me the opportunity to step in and spout off a bunch of nutritional information I have studied and learned over the past 7 years. After all, I am not only a culinary genius but also a highly educated scholar in the field of nutrition and dietetics. Ever heard of Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food?” Yeah, I was his ghost writer. Not that I like to brag about it or anything… and Michael, I am still expecting my paycheck in the mail any day now… hmmm
So back to where mi mama gets her protein from. The majority comes from plant sources such as beans and legumes as well as some dairy sources like eggs, cheese and yogurt. Did you know that just one cup of cooked chickpeas or kidney beans contains almost 15 grams of protein? Or that one cup of nonfat Greek yogurt provides a whopping 25 grams? That’s almost the same as a 3 oz chicken breast or piece of steak. And no poultry or cow had to be harmed in the process. Something to think about, people. So basically, mi mama is not lacking in the protein department by maintaining a vegetarian diet. In fact, I think one of my next posts will be a more in-depth assessment of exactly what she eats over the course of a day and the nutritional breakdown of each meal and snack. This way one can see just how easy it really is to maintain optimal health while skipping the meat.
And I have a simple side dish recipe for you today that is not only tasty, but completely vegetarian and provides nearly 16 grams of protein per serving… and that’s just in a side dish! Hot dog!
Protein-Packed Four Bean Salad
15 oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
15 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen edamame, thawed
2 medium-sized carrots, diced
1/2 large red onion, diced
1 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup honey or agave nectar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1) In a large bowl, mix the beans, parsley and rosemary.
2) In a separate bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients. Add dressing to the large bowl and toss to coat.
3) Chill in the refrigerator (the beans, not you) for several hours or overnight before serving.
Incredibly simple and oh so tasty. Bring this to your next potluck or picnic and it will surely be a crowd favorite. Trust me.
Well I truly must be going now. I need to go wait by the front door. I think mi papa is coming home soon.