Vegetarianism is becoming more and more popular. It is a great way for people to eat healthier without using animal proteins in their diet. There are many reasons why people choose to become vegetarian, but we won’t go into all that here. But the vegetarian diet does pose some issues that vegetarians need to address, one of them being that they need to focus on getting the right amount of protein in their diet.
First of all, why do you need protein in your diet? Protein is one of the three macronutrients found in our food (the other two being fats and carbohydrates). It accounts for 20% of your body weight, and is a vital component of body tissues, enzymes and immune cells. Protein helps to keep your immune system functioning properly, helps maintain healthy skin, hair and nails, and helps the body produce enzymes.
Proteins are complex molecules made up of amino acids which link together in specific numbers and combinations to make each different protein. Protein provides the amino acids that the body needs to synthesize its own proteins. Protein also interacts with nutrients by binding with them and carry certain vitamins and minerals (including iron, copper, calcium, Vitamin A and Vitamin D). An inadequate amount of protein in your system, therefore, may impair the function of these nutrients.
There are many sources where vegetarians can obtain their protein. Here is a list that gives you the vegetarian protein source and how much you are getting, by the numbers:
Beans, Nuts, Seeds
1 cup garbanzo beans 14.5 grams
1 cup pinto beans 12 grams
1 cup refried beans 15.5 grams
1 cup soybeans 28 grams
1 oz. cashews 4.4 grams
1 oz. peanuts 6.5 grams
1 oz. sesame seeds 6.5 grams
1 oz. pistachios 5.8 grams
1 cup tofu 22 grams
1 cup lentils 18 grams
1 cup yogurt 13 grams
1 oz cheddar cheese 7.1 grams
1 egg 6 grams
1 cup cottage cheese 10 grams
Fruits and Vegetables
1 avocado 10 grams
1 cup broccoli 5 grams
1 cup spinach 5 grams
1 cup peas 9 grams
1 medium artichoke 4 grams
1 cup asparagus 5 grams
1 cup beet greens 3 grams
Here is a chart indicating how much protein (the recommended Dietary Allowance for Protein) you need each day (it is recommended that 10-30% of your daily calories come from protein):
Recommended Dietary Allowance for Protein
Children ages 1 – 3 … … … … … … … 13 grams of protein needed each day
Children ages 4 -8 … … … … … … … 19 grams of protein needed each day
Children ages 9 – 13 … … … … … … 34 grams of protein needed each day
Girls ages 14 – 18 … … … … … … … 46 grams of protein needed each day
Boys ages 14 – 18 … … … … … … … 52 grams of protein needed each day
Women ages 19 – 70+ … … … … … 46 grams of protein needed each day
Men ages 19 – 70+ … … … … … … … 56 grams of protein needed each day
Now that you know why you need protein in a vegetarian diet, and how much, you have to deal with what you need to eat to provide your picky eaters body with that protein. As noted above, tofu is one great way to get protein in your picky eaters diet.
Tofu is typically one food that many people turn their nose up at. That is largely because it has a bad ‘rap’. Tofu is a food that made from soybeans, water and a coagulant (or curdling agent). Tofu in itself is mainly tasteless, which is why a lot of people don’t seem to like it. On it own, it is a very bland food. The good thing about tofu, however, is its ability to absorb flavors, making it a good choice for being enhanced by spices and sauces.
There are different types of tofu which can be used in different ways and each will suit various recipes better than the others. There is silken or soft tofu, and there is firm and regular tofu, which are a bit more in a solid form.
Silken tofu can be added to recipes in many ways to enhance the protein level in a dish. You can mix silken tofu, for instance, into chocolate pudding to add protein to a dessert. This method would appeal to picky eaters. You can make smoothies with fresh fruit and tofu, another idea picky eaters tend to love. You can even mix tofu in your cake icing (or into the cake itself) to add more protein to a dessert. Silken tofu can be added to the cheese sauce in a mac ‘n cheese casserole too. In these instances, often the picky eaters will not even know they are eating tofu.
The firm tofu can be set in a marinade to absorb flavors. You need to drain the tofu first, and even sometimes weight it down to get rid of the excess moisture. Then cut it in triangles or smaller pieces and set it in a tasty marinade or sprinkle it with spices. You can then fry it in extra virgin olive oil until toasty on all sides and add it to a stir-fry vegetables dish. Another way is to crumble the firm tofu into a skillet, spice it up and treat it like ground beef, crisping it for texture. Then add a tomato sauce and serve it like spaghetti. You can add small squares of firm tofu to soups as well.
The above are just a few suggestions that can help you get your vegetarian picky eaters to eat tofu, to enable them to get protein in their diets. There are many vegetarian recipes sites where you can find tofu recipes that are very tasty and that are sure to please even the picky eaters in your household.
Get the Recipe Book for Picky Eaters…
Here is another book you may be interested in (for Vegetarian Picky Eaters):
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