The desire to take your diet into depths of plant based foods is a great for optimal health and wellbeing. We hope that many of you have been taught to eat your veggies from a young age, however, this idea that plant based eating isn’t tasty and more so of a ‘chore’ has instilled bad habits across the nation.
Firstly, what are whole foods?
When we talk about ‘whole foods’, we are talking about foods that come directly from nature that have not been interfered with. Let’s take a step back for a minute and go back to times where we grew our own food. Let’s think of an apple, we plant some seeds, feed it water and watch it grow into a beautiful tree, once the fruit has ripened the fruit is picked, packed into a basket and carried into our kitchen to be enjoyed by family, friends and self. The only ‘interference’ during this process is the harvesting of the fruit, there was no need to process it, add preservatives or other ingredients to enjoy this food in its entirety.
So now you understand what a whole food is, take a minute to reflect on the percentage of ‘whole foods’ in your diet. Many people like to throw numbers around when it comes to food – but let’s keep it simple. If we aim to fill our plates with an abundance of plants, organic protein and some healthy fats we are already off to a wonderful start.
Whole, Natural Protein
When it comes to animal protein, the same process is applied, think eggs, chicken breast, beef cheek, salmon steak and so forth, these sources of protein are not ‘interfered’ with. So say goodbye to processed deli meats, sausages, fish fingers and goodness knows what else they seem to package up and call ‘food’ these days. Whole food does not need a label, you should be able to tell what it is just by looking at it, no funky numbers or names you can’t pronounce correctly – besides quinoa, cacao or acai, right?
Here at Sol Cleanse, we choose to enjoy both animal and plant protein sources in our diet. Some of you may not be familiar with the whole ‘plant protein’ concept. Believe it or not, you can get your protein from plants, however, in order to do so you need to educate yourself about how to do that effectively.
When we look at animal proteins, they are ‘complete proteins’ which means they contain each of the 9 amino acids, however, when we look at plant proteins, we must combine two complementary sources such as rice and legumes to reach the 9 amino acid target. A way to break this down is comparing peanuts and oats. Peanuts contain a high amount of lysine but only a small amount of tryptophan. Therefore, we need another plant source such as oats that are high in tryptophan to complete the protein profile.
What are essential amino acids?
It is important to understand that not all amino acids are essential. Our body has the ability to make amino acids, so when we talk about ‘essential amino acids’ these are the ones that our body cannot manufacture.
The 9 Essential Amino Acids
However, there are some exceptions in the plant world, these are quinoa, chia, amaranth and hemp. These plants are rather special, as they contain the 9 essential amino acids which is why they can often be referred to as ‘superfoods’ as the boast a long list of health benefits on top of their complete protein profile. Take a look at the image below, to get your head wrapped around the protein content of different plant foods.
Image via pinterest
Our Go-To Plant Proteins
Plant protein powders are a favourite of ours, to add to smoothies, pancakes or to enjoy just on their own. We don’t like to rely on these powders as our primary source of protein, however, they are a great option for breakfast or an afternoon snack to tide you over until dinner. We love hemp protein, however, if you opt for pea protein, try to make sure you add in some lsa or nut butter to your smoothie to get all of those 9 essential amino acids
Roasted garlic hummus, burgers, cookies, baked in the oven, salad toppers you name it we love adding chickpeas in wherever we can, as they are affordable, time savvy and oh so yummy. If you can’t digest these bad boys very well (think bloating and gas) try soaking them in apple cider vinegar or kefir to help break them down before they enter your body.
Soaked in tamari and pan fried, added to buddha bowls, grated and made into vegan burgers or tossed into a stir fry, tempeh is so very versatile. What is tempeh? Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans, its super high in calcium and helps to balance the bacteria in your gut. Don’t forget to always opt for organic tempeh, you can find it in Coles or at your local health food store.
You can find complete protein sources throughout our whole food cleanse programs and meal packs.