I’ve been on a little health kick lately. Oh no, don’t worry, I won’t bore you with the details. I only want to share the occasional recipe that I make or come across in case it’s of use to you. I will, however, give you a few reasons behind my making of each recipe just to explain why I sought to combine certain ingredients.
I’ve long known that eliminating simple carbohydrates from a diet is almost essential to maintaining a healthy weight. However, knowing it and doing it, are two very different things. I tend to be quite a simple carb addict and now that I’ve reached middle age and my metabolism is slowing down, excessive carb munching is starting to catch up with me. So I decided to eliminate them all pretty much cold turkey. Recently I read that this is a good first step for another reason. Young people’s bodies are much more adept at producing energy from carbs (simple and complex) than those middle-aged and older. It is recommended that those of the over 40 age group eat fewer carbs and increase their protein intake. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not talking about a Low Carb or a No Carb diet. I’m just talking about eating a reasonable portion of complex carbs (which have a much higher nutritional value than simple carbs and beneficial attributes such as fibre) and increasing protein slightly to benefit muscles and bones.
Of course, whenever you get a plan of action in your head, there always has to be fly in the ointment. At least that’s what happens to me. I heard on the radio that too much protein, especially for women, can increase chances of developing osteoporosis. Upon further reading, however, I discovered that the culprit was actually not protein itself but rather acids in the meats and dairy from which we derive the protein. This acid may contribute to excessive leaching of bone calcium.1 So how do you raise your protein intake but lower your consumption of food and dairy? Well, the answer is pretty simple and Vegans have known this for years. Start eating more vegetable protein. Luckily there are many sources for vegetable protein and the bonus is that many of them also are a good source of complex carbohydrates and calcium.
Some of the top sources of plant protein include quinoa and beans which are the two main ingredients I included in the salad I concocted tonight. Besides black beans (very heart-healthy) and quinoa, I had very few other ingredients to choose from in my fridge except for cucumber, tomato, and feta. Of course, when I combine those three ingredients in my head I already have most of a Greek salad…just add olive oil, olives, and oregano. Sadly I had no olives and oregano didn’t seem right with quinoa so they weren’t included but I did sneak in a couple of cloves of garlic. Also, after dinner, I found a similar recipe (minus the beans and garlic) which includes the use of lemon juice which would be very nice. Happily this is the kind of recipe you can play around with until you get the right combination for your taste.
If you give it a try, let me know what you think. I served it as a meal as it is quite rich in calories, but it would also make a nice side dish. If you aren’t able to get quinoa, try replacing it with bulgur which has many of the health benefits of quinoa.
Serves 4 (dinner portions)
100 g Quinoa (approx. 2 cups cooked)
2 cups Black Beans cooked
8 to 10 grape tomatoes quartered or 1 tomato diced
1/2 an English cucumber cut into small cubes
2 cloves garlic (diced or crushed)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (or other similar cheese)
salt and pepper to taste