Protein: How Much Do You Really Need?

Most people are aware they need protein in order for their bodies to function normally, however it may not always be clear exactly how much their body really needs. This often results in individuals turning to protein powder and other sources, always believing they are not getting enough protein in their diets.

However, it is actually hard to not get enough protein, provided you maintain a healthy diet. It is also not beneficial to simply consumer extra protein, since this often means you are just adding more calories and fat into your diet. If you want to build muscle, you should simply consume your recommended daily requirement combined with muscle-building exercises.

So how much protein do you actually need? Well, sources recommend people consume 10 to 35 per cent of their daily calories from foods with high levels of protein. When you break it down, this means roughly 46 grams of protein a day for women, and 56 grams for men. This usually equates to two to three servings of food rich in protein each day, depending on the specific foods you consume. Thus, it is actually very easy to incorporate the right amount of protein into your diet naturally, rather than consuming protein powder in smoothies or choosing sugar-laden protein bars.

However, it is important to note your doctor may advise you differently depending on your body’s specific needs. Some of these needs include if you are pregnant, nursing, are on a diet, are a vegetarian or vegan, or are a serious athlete. All of those often mean you will require more protein in your diet.

Because of the specific conditions under which you may need more or less protein, we recommend checking with your primary care physician prior to making any significant change in your diet. After all, you do not need extra protein beyond your daily requirement for your body to function well, and making a mistake can result in serious health issues.

Protein: Natural Sources

eggs protein

Protein is a powerful macro nutrient everyone needs in their diets. It helps build and repair your muscles, increases your fat-burning metabolism, and even helps to dramatically reduce your hunger. This last one in particular helps you avoid going to unhealthy choices at the vending machine mid-afternoon. It also allows you to reduce fat storage and drops in energy, as protein slows your body’s release of carbs into your bloodstream.

While some people, particularly athletes, turn to whey protein powders to help boost the amount they consume, many people cannot afford the high price tag or simply do not want to add artificial sources of protein into their diet, preferring a cleaner diet. In any case, there are quite a few natural sources of protein you can incorporate into your diet beyond the typical choices of steak, ground beef, and other red meats.

Greek Yogurt

For every eight ounces of Greek yogurt you consume, you will be getting 23 grams of protein, on average. This is roughly twice the amount of protein you would get from the “regular” type of yogurt. In addition to the high amount of protein, you also benefit from getting more calcium and healthy probiotics in Greek yogurt as well. Just keep in mind the sugar content if you choose flavoured Greek yogurt. You can still reap the same rewards from plain Greek yogurt, but with far fewer calories and sugar content.

Eggs

Each large egg contains roughly six grams of protein. You also benefit from amino acids, and high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly if you search for the fortified variety of eggs. As eggs have a high amount of protein, you are sure to benefit from even having one egg every day. To make things interesting, change how you are eating them. You can scramble eggs one morning, poach them the next, or even have a hard-boiled egg as a snack during the day.

Lentils

Lentils are one of the cheapest sources of protein on the market. They are also the perfect choice for vegetarians, who cannot benefit from protein coming from red meat of even just chicken. For every quarter cup of dry lentils, you will digest approximately 13 grams of protein.

Peanut Butter

While many people are consuming alternatives like almond butter in place of the classic peanut variety, peanut butter still leads the pack with protein content. For every two tablespoons of peanut butter, your body receives approximately eight grams of protein. This makes peanut butter on toast a great way to start your day.

Take An Ingredient Inventory

You cannot effectively plan what you want to eat every day, or have the insurance of knowing you will have enough ingredients to cook your favorite meals when you want them, unless you take time to create or update an ingredient inventory. Here are a couple tips to consider when you are taking inventory in your kitchen:

Paper or Digital

While you can easily just make a list with a pen and paper, this method of taking an ingredient inventory can get quite tiresome as well as messy when it comes to actually updating the list as the ingredients in your cupboards, fridge, and freezer change.

Instead, we suggest keeping a digital account of your ingredient inventory, either in a simple text document or spreadsheet. This way, you can easily type in the ingredients you have and update them without messing up countless bits of paper. It definitely makes the process much easier to handle.

What To Inventory

Ideally, you would keep a complete inventory of everything you have in relation to ingredients for your meals and snacks. However, this may not always be possible for any number of reasons, including the amount of time it would take to keep an extensive inventory.

So what should you keep track of, even if you cannot make it a complete list?

First, think about the spices you have. Which ones do you use regularly? Often this includes oregano, garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Other spices you may wish to track include ones you use in special recipes. If you make a special blend of spice, keep track of any individual spice you put in it. Understanding when you are running low lets you purchase more before you run out and are left without the ability to make your favorite recipes correctly.

Also consider the nonperishables you have, such as rice, dry pasta, pasta sauce, and canned soup. These often play integral roles in larger recipes.

As well, if you bake even a little bit, keep account of all ingredients related to those recipes, such as quick cooking oats, chocolate chips, brown sugar, flour, and white sugar. Many people tend to bake on a whim, so it helps to always have these elements on hand. This way, you will be able to make a batch of brownies whenever the craving strikes.

Another important thing to inventory is the contents of your freezer. Too often people forget what they have, such as frozen chicken breast from a special a couple weeks ago. As meat is expensive, if you already have some in your freezer, it is better to use it and wait until another special comes along, but you will not know this is possible unless you keep track of your freezer contents.

Never get left out in the cold when you want to cook or bake your favorite recipes and always keep an account of the ingredients you have in your home.

Breakfasts Around The World

Not everyone eats the same thing for breakfast around the whole world. Here is a peek at what some of the popular breakfast foods are in six countries:

England

When most people think of breakfast and England, they will land on a full English breakfast at some point. So what does a full English breakfast include? Typically you would be eating bacon, eggs, fried tomatoes, sausage, toast with butter, and sometimes fried mushrooms. Some English breakfasts will stray from this, but you generally see the same rotation of food.

France

A breakfast in France is sweet and simple. The French love to enjoy a cup of coffee with a buttered croissant or baguette. Some also consume pastries. One thing is clear: sweet treats are popular in this country!

Turkey

In Turkey, most are prone to enjoy bread with butter, jam, or honey, along with savoury treats like olives, cucumbers, cheese, eggs, tomatoes, and cold meats. You will often also see yogurt or fruit juice on the menu, along with a cup of tea or coffee. If you are eating in a group setting, breakfast is often served as a buffet.

Germany

In Germany, a common breakfast would consist of a hot drink like coffee, tea, or hot cocoa. After the drink you would have bread with a variety of toppings available like honey, butter, or jam.  You might even see sausage on the menu. Many also drink some juice, have a boiled egg, or eat cereal. Cereal is particular common among children. Another element you might see in a German breakfast is müsli, which consists of cereal flakes, dried fruit, nuts, and sometimes yogurt or milk and fresh fruit.

Sweden

Popular breakfast options in Sweden include dried fruit, nuts, cereal, and open faced sandwiches. Popular sandwich toppings for Swedish breakfasts include cheese, ham, butter, cucumber, tomato, cold cut meats, and bell peppers.

United States

There is a plethora of different breakfasts in the United States, but some of the most common include pancakes, waffles, hash browns or breakfast potatoes, as well as eggs, bacon, sausage, and orange juice.

Essential Tools For Baking

essential tools

If you are going to bake delicious desserts, you are going to require some tools to make it happen. While there are many fancy tools out there, like automatic mixers, in reality there are only a few things you will actually need. You may have to work a little harder because of this, but it is well worth it.

Mixing Bowls

You will not get anywhere with baking unless you have a good set of mixing bowls. Ideally, find a nesting set of bowls. They can be metal or plastic, but remember you cannot put the metal ones in the microwave, and if you want to make a double boiler to melt chocolate, you need a metal bowl. Nesting bowls are the best idea to save on storage space.

Measuring Cups and Spoons

How else are you going to know how much of an ingredient you are adding if you do not have any measuring cups or spoons? Use the spoons for ingredients like vanilla extract, spices, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. The cups are for liquids, flour, sugar, and oats, among other higher volume ingredients.

Wooden Spoons

Wooden spoons are the ideal tools to mix your ingredients together with. Mixing by hand will also help you work your muscles, which is quite beneficial, even if using an automatic mixer would make things easier. In addition, mixing by hand with wooden spoons gives you more control over the process ,which is essential for many finicky recipes.

Baking Sheets and Muffin Tins

You are definitely going to need things like baking sheets, muffin tins, brownie pans, et cetera if you actually want to bake the batter you mix. Unfortunately, it is hard to substitute these pans for one another, so you will likely need at least one of each of them.

Cooling Racks

When you take your baked goods out of the oven, they will need some time to cool down before you can eat them. This is where cooling racks come in handy. While you can put things on a clean counter, the cooling rack helps to cool them faster since the air can also travel underneath.

Rolling Pin

If any of the recipes you like want you to roll out dough, you are going to need a rolling pin to help. This make things much easier than trying to roll out dough with your hands or a makeshift tool like a jar. It also helps to ensure you are rolling the dough evenly, which can only help your recipe.

Essential Ingredients For Baking

essential ingredientsAre you getting started with baking? Do you need to stock up your pantry? Baking returns all sorts of delicious goodies, but nothing is more frustrating than choosing a recipe only to find out you are missing one or more of the ingredients. While some recipes will call for certain things you do not normally use, or would go bad quickly, there are some essential ingredients you should always keep on hand if you like to bake.

All-Purpose Flour

There are many types of flour, but some of them, like pastry flour, are meant for only certain recipes. All- purpose flour, on the other hand, is a very multi functional ingredient. You can use it in cakes, cookies, muffins, and even as a thickening ingredient in savoury cooking. In many instances, you can use some all-purpose flour as a substitute for most of the other kinds of flour.

Salt

While it may seem like you could simply leave out a teaspoon of salt in your recipe, it will actually compromise the taste and even the texture of your baked goods if you do. Since it does not go bad, always keep some simple table salt in your pantry for all of your baking needs. You can even use it outside of baking, so you do not need to worry about whether or not you will finish it off.

White and Brown Sugar

Most baking calls for either white or brown sugar, so you should always try to keep some on hand. You can substitute one for the other in many recipes, though it would still be better to use whichever the recipe wants, since it will affect the texture slightly, and even maybe the taste for discerning palates. You can, however, add some molasses to white sugar to help mimic the taste and consistency of brown sugar.

Baking Soda and Powder

You do not want to skip either one of these ingredients if they appear in your list of ingredients for a recipe, Just be sure to read the list carefully so you do not accidentally add the one you are not supposed to!

Baking Chocolate

Do you like chocolate? If so, always keep some baking chocolate and chocolate chips in your pantry. It should always be baking quality so you can be assured of the flavour as well as how much you need to add. Baker’s chocolate is usually much stronger than the commercial chocolate you will see in other aisles at the grocery store.

Pure Vanilla Extract

This is one of the most popular extracts you will see on recipes, which is why it is a good idea to keep it on hand. You can also use this in a pinch if you do not have another extract, though remember it will delivery a different flavour than, say, orange extract.

Meal Preparation Tips

Preparing your meals in advance offers a variety of benefits, including saving you time on busy days as well as increasing the amount of healthy, well-balanced meals you eat. Sometimes, however, meal preparation can seem overwhelming. The good news is as long as you think about it beforehand, there is nothing intimidating about planning and prepping your meals in advance of dinner time.

To that end, here are some tips to help you engage in effective meal preparation:

Quality Containers

You can prepare as many meals as you want, but without good containers to store the food in, you are not going to get anywhere with meal preparation. You can choose plastic bags, plastic storage containers, glass containers, et cetera. Consider what kind of ingredients you will be using for your meals. If you are simply chopping vegetables for a meal, you can get away with a plastic bag. For liquids, on the other hand, you may need a bottle.

Plan The Meals

Of course, in order to prepare your meals you are going to have to plan what they are going to be! You can do this on pen and paper or on your computer—whichever works best for you. Make sure to make notes for all breakfasts, lunches, and dinners you will need to prepare for. Consider all the ingredients you will need for each meal. Before you go to the grocery store, remember to check your fridge, freezer, and cupboards to see if you have any of the ingredients already.

Cook At The Same Time

Sure, you could do one meal at a time, but try to cook multiple meals at the same time whenever possible. For instance, if you plan to have chicken more than once during your week (or other meal prep period) cook the chicken breasts at the same time. You can cook different meats and vegetables simultaneously as well, depending on the temperature required. Your only concern here would be cross contamination, so be sure to wash your hands throughout this process and use separate utensils and baking sheet.

Mix It Up

Sometimes it is easy to just cook the same meal so you do not have to worry too much about what you are going to eat or other snags that might come with meal preparation for more than one thing. However, this is often a mistake. It is very easy to get bored if you are eating the same thing every day. When you are just starting out with meal preparation, try doing two meals so you can switch them out with one another. Gradually add meals as you get a hang of things.

Differences Between Cooking Oils

Many recipes call for cooking oils as integral ingredients, but they also may request you to fry, sauté, bake, et cetera, with some oil involved. Even though oil is common, many people misuse the types of cooking oil available to them. To help maximize your health as well as the taste of your dish, here are details on some of the major cooking oils you will encounter in kitchens and the grocery store.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

If you ask someone about cooking oil, most people will think of extra virgin olive oil. This is perhaps one of the most popular, and many people turn to it when they need a cooking oil in their recipe. It has a delicious flavour to it, which is another aspect that makes it a popular choice among people in the kitchen. That said, this is not as versatile as you might think. Extra virgin olive oil has a low smoke point at 320 degrees Fahrenheit. When you heat an oil past its smoke point, you compromise the flavour and can actually cause your health some harm as well. Thus, save extra virgin olive oil for recipes that do not require heat, like salad dressing, dips, or a simple one-ingredient pasta sauce.

Sesame Oil

Sesame oil has an iconic, nutty smell to it when you open its bottle. That said, the flavour is relatively neutral, making it a versatile oil. It has a higher smoke point at 410 degrees Fahrenheit, which means you can use it for sautéing or frying with relative security. It works well in salad dressing with all of its vitamins and minerals, as well as fatty acids. If used correctly, you can really enhance the sesame flavour, making this a go-to oil for many Asian recipes.

Canola Oil

Do you want a good neutral oil you can use in just about any recipe? Canola oil, also seen as vegetable oil, has a high smoke point of 450 degrees Fahrenheit, which means it can withstand deep frying, sautéing, et cetera. It is also quite cheap compared to most other cooking oils. It is important to note, however, that canola oil is not the best for your health, which is why you may want to use it sparingly in your diet or find an appropriate substitute.

Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is the cooking oil with the highest smoke point on this list: 510 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes it an excellent choice for all high temperature cooking, like grilling or frying. It does possess a buttery flavour and has high levels of the healthy monounsaturated fats. It is also quite versatile and you can also use it in salad dressing, as a drizzle, or in other no temperature recipes.

Cooking For Busy Days

All of us have experienced busy days now and again (or even constantly). Busy days can occur for a variety of reasons, including having a family to take care of, big deadlines at work, or simply many things to juggle at the same time. Regardless of why you are busy, you still need to eat healthy and energizing meals. But what happens if cooking takes too long or you simply do not have lots of energy after you day is over? Thankfully, we have compiled some simple tips for cooking when those busy days strike.

Build A Quality Pantry

The ingredients you have in your pantry are your lifesavers during the busy times in your life. They can make whipping up recipes very easy if you pick the right ones. In all cases, you want nonperishable items (so you need not worry about anything going bad). Look for ingredients like dried pasta, sauce in jars, cans of soup, as well as canned tomatoes, beans, et cetera. Make a list of ingredients you have and see where you might have gaps. Visit the grocery store to stock up if necessary.

Fill Your Freezer

Your freezer is another element in your kitchen, like your pantry, that can be a lifesaver on those busy days. You can have frozen meals for emergencies, buy you can also buy ingredients in bulk and freeze them for use later. You can even cook in bulk and store portioned leftovers you just have to reheat when your day gets busy.

Pick Easy Meals

Sometimes cooking becomes a hassle on busy days because the recipes are just too time consuming or complicated to manage. Reevaluate what you are cooking and pick easy to cook meals like one pot pasta, casseroles, and fried rice. Many of these easy dishes also make excellent leftovers and/or freeze well, so remember to keep this in mind when you choose your meal.

Multitask While Cooking

Sometimes you can make cooking easier by multitasking while you do it. For instance, can you have a pot of water on to boil or start simmering sauce while you chop vegetables for your meal? Sometimes it might feel as if you have to perform actions one at a time, but take a closer look at your recipes and see what you can do simultaneously. With that in mind, do not overload yourself, as you still want to be safe and turn out a delicious meal.

Invest In A Slow Cooker

Slow cookers are an essential kitchen appliance if you are consistently busy. With minimal prep, you can have a meal simmering and cooking all day while you go about your business. If you time things right, you can come home to a perfectly cooked and warm meal.

Eating When You Have A Cold

When you have a cold, you may not feel like eating very much at all. However, this is one of the worst things you can do, along with not getting enough rest. Your body needs nourishment, liquid included, in order to effectively fight your cold. To help speed your recovery, here are some of the most popular things you should eat and/or drink while you are feeling ill.

Chicken Noodle Soup

The broth in this soup helps to keep you hydrated. But even more than that, chicken noodle soup contains lots of vitamins and minerals that help you body fight off any inflammation, things mucus in your nasal passages, and generally makes you feel better. Pick your favourite brand or try making your own!

Hot Tea

Tea is yet another way to help give your body as much liquid as possible. Remember, one of the golden rules about having a cold is to keep yourself hydrated. We recommend low caffeine or caffeine-free teas like green or herbal tea while you are sick. These two play especially well into the next item on our list.

Lemon and Honey

Do you have a sore throat? Put some lemon and honey into hot water, tea, or even a small amount of whiskey! These combinations can help you soothe your throat, at least temporarily.

Spicy Food

If you have an irritated stomach, we recommend staying away from spicy food as it can irritate you further. If this is not the case, however, eating spicy food or drinking spicy broth helps to relieve congestion. No more stuffy nose for you! Just be aware that you may have watery eyes or a slight runny nose while you are eating. Keep some tissues nearby to help.

BRAT Diet

Even if you have an appetite, sometimes eating certain food when you are sick (whether it is a coldo r flu) can make things worse, at least temporarily. This is why you should adhere to the BRAT diet when you have an upset stomach while sick. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. These foods were chosen because they are some of the least likely to irritate your stomach. Eating them ensures you are still getting nutrition, such as vitamin C from the applesauce and potassium from bananas.

Eating these foods is sure to get you back on the right track. Feel better!