More protein than chicken and 10x cheaper than whey protein

The discovery

A couple of weekends ago whilst doing my weekly grocery shopping, I made a discovery as life-altering as man’s discovery of black gold. Okay perhaps that is a gross exaggeration, still, it was a noteworthy find. I had stumbled upon flaxseed (flax) flour. I have long known flax (linseed) to be a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which as we know are paramount for a healthy brain and are essential for the cardiovascular system (heart).  But while perusing the nutritional content of the flour two things stood out, namely the protein and fibre contents. Conventional wisdom leads us to believe that the best source of protein is meat in the shape of chicken and beef or protein supplements e.g. protein shakes.   But as we shall see, not only are the proposed sources of protein sub-par; they are replete with issues.

Issues with proverbial sources of protein 

Elevated fat content (meat)

While lean meats are a high source of protein (chicken and beef contain about 24g per 100g) most of the beef and chicken accessible (and affordable) to the public is not lean. In pursuit of profits, large farms almost unilaterally employ antibiotics to produce jumbo sized chickens and other livestock. In addition to antibiotics, the diet of livestock in factory farms almost sorely consists of corn, a cheaper and fattier feedstock. What all of this culminates in are cows, chickens and pigs with a much higher fat to muscle ratio. Simply put, what we believe are prime sources of protein are nothing but fat-laden, hormone-saturated and protein barren meats.  Unless you are getting your protein from free-range sources, you are most likely consuming substandard products.

Costly (protein shakes)

Whey and other protein shakes are sought after for their high protein content, convenience and also how quickly the protein is absorbed into the body. Unadulterated whey contains anywhere between 60 to 90g of protein per 100g, which is as good as you going to get as far as protein content is concerned. While whey and other protein shakes undoubtedly provide a convenient and rich source of protein, they come at a cost.  Costing anywhere between $30 –100 for 1kg, (depending on the brand and quality),  there are not for those on shoestring budgets.

Lactose intolerance (protein shakes)

Whey and other protein shakes are derivatives of animal milk. While there are several issues associated with animal milk consumption, a significant one is lactose intolerance. While kids can digest lactose (sugar from milk), most of us lose that ability as we age (the lactase enzymes which break down lactose deplete). About 75% of all adults cannot properly digest milk and this can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms including bloating, cramps, diarrhoea and flatulence.

Fibre deficient (meat and protein shakes)

Whey protein and meat (chicken and beef) essentially contain zero (or negligible) amounts of fibre. While fibre (soluble in particular) is well known to facilitate regular bowel movement, its lesser appreciated trait, its ability to foster an environment which is conducive to gut bacteria, is perhaps more telling. A gut teeming with lots of good bacteria helps protect the colon against cancerous outbreaks and helps maintain cellular homeostasis. Fibre also helps lower cholesterol and reduces the chance of type two diabetes.

Mighty punch of flax flour  

Now, back to my discovery i.e. flax flour (simply made by milling flaxseed). Remember lean chicken, the proverbial choice of protein, which has about 24g of protein per 100g; flax flour has 32.8g per 100g. So not only does flax flour trump chicken in protein content but it also comes with a generous dose of healthy omega 3 fatty acids instead of saturated fats and cholesterol. But the news gets better. Flax flour is loaded with 33.4g of fibre per 100g, now in comparison pasta has 2.7g /100g, whey has zero and regular cake flour has about 3.7/100g.  So how much does all of this cost? A mere $6 per 1kg, which is approximately 10 times cheaper than whey protein. So as a source of fibre few foods pack the same punch as flax flour. Research shows that most of us (on western diets) are deficient in fibre i.e., we get 18g per day when we ought to get 30g a day. Given the deficiency, it makes sense to introduce flaxseed flour into your diet.

In this video, I compare the nutritional value of flax flour to other pantry staples. 

How to incorporate this superfood into your diet?

Fortunately, there are couple options available including adding a spoonful into your breakfast cereals or smoothies/ shakes or mixing it with regular flour at a proportion of about 15 to 30% – which of course you can use for a myriad of baking applications. In my experience, I would guard against liberal usage of the flour. The flour has this undesirable coagulating characteristic (makes things gooey). To limit this gooeyness, it is best to use it sparingly; never exceed more than 30%, no matter the application.

Summary

Flaxseed flour is cheap ($6 for 1kg) and serves as a great source of protein, fibre, essential omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin and minerals.  With multiple ways of incorporating it into your diet, there is no reason why this superfood should not be in your pantry.


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Let’s make 2018 healthier. 

Pancakes which make you lose weight?

New year, New Me! Crowds gather at a 5km local park run as part of a strategy to make 2018 a healthy year. 

It’s the New Year and judging by the turnout at the local Parkruns (weekly free 5 km volunteer organized running events), there is a large cohort of people who made 2018 the year get in shape. While exercise is a great start to shed some of those excess kilos that we gained over the holidays, it alone isn’t enough. We have all heard of the saying that abs are built in the kitchen, meaning that what we eat has a far greater bearing on our physique than exercise.

Many studies suggest that if we ate well, 80% of the job would be done.

 

If eating well was easy we would all look swimsuit models, unfortunately, the reality is that many of us are pretty fallible when it comes to diet. We all know what we should eat but sugar, refined carbs, fat and salt are all too damn delicious. Given the choice between pancakes and quinoa after a long stressful day at work – most of us would choose the former. While quinoa is the healthier alternative, cooked quinoa (that is not drenched sauces) is blander than cardboard – it is utterly tasteless.

A few days ago I wanted to make pancakes (anyone who knows me will be aware that pancakes are one of my favourite guilty pleasures – they were the first thing I learned to cook at the tender age of nine) but a part of me was unwilling to make them in the traditional manner.   I wanted to transform them into a snack that was both delicious and healthy.

The Substitute

The challenge was on. Looking around my pantry I noticed that I had two 1 kg boxes of whole oats and in the process, my eyes caught sight of the food processor (blender). Right then I had a flash of inspiration, I thought why not put the oats in a processor and blend it into a flour. But then I thought why not simply put all the traditional ingredients (eggs, salt, sugar, milk and cinnamon) and the oats into the food processor and blend everything into a pancake batter. And sure enough, that is exactly what I did.  After making the batter I proceeded to cook it as I would with normal pancakes. To my surprise, the oat batter cooked exactly as the traditional flour batter. Besides cooking well i.e. not burning/ excessive caramelization,  the oat pancakes tasted great, as good as traditional pancakes albeit crunchier.

Pancakes that I made using oats instead of white flour. The batter was made by inserting whole oats and other ingredients into a food processor and then blending the mixture. 

Health Benefits of Oat Pancakes

By that simple act of altering the main ingredient of the pancake, white flour, I significantly altered the health profile of the snack. Oats are rich in carbs and fibre but are also higher in protein than most other grains. They are replete with vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. Moreover, oats have a low glycaemic index i.e. they are metabolised slower than refined carbs such as white flour and are thus unlikely to cause the proverbial sugar crash.  All these characteristics make oats a food that can be used to accelerate weight loss, reduce blood cholesterol and sugar levels and reduce the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The high fibre promotes regular bowel movement and a healthy gut microbiome (bacteria). These bacteria result in a healthy colon which is less susceptible to cancers.

Regardless of how you get oats into your diet (pancakes, cereal etc.), these super grains should become a mainstay in your diet.


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Live your best life.

What about Protein as a Vegetarian?

For many vegetarians, a common question asked of them is, “What about protein though?” Eating a healthy, wholesome, plant based, one can get all the protein needed.

Vegetable stir-fry with cashews
Vegetable stir-fry with cashews

Adding nuts will increase your protein intake in a meal. For example, only 60g of cashew nuts will meet your daily protein recommended amount (*Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.)

Other good sources are legumes, such as beans and lentils.

There shouldn’t even be a question about whether you can get enough protein as a healthy vegetarian. Perhaps one could ask about getting a balanced diet, with enough roughage and nutrients (see a story about getting a balanced vegetarian diet which does not solely consist of cake).

-Graham

graham@thevegetarianman.com

Cake is Not the Best Vegetarian Food

If you are switching to vegetarian food for health reasons, make sure that you choose healthy food, as well as cutting out meat.

Carrot Cake
Carrot cake, has healthy carrots, but does not a balanced meal make.

 

-Graham

graham@thevegetarianman.com

My First Steps as a Vegetarian

Your first steps as a vegetarian can be daunting, but with a few tips, it is much easier to follow.

Spinach quiche, thevegetarianman

Spinach quiche, thevegetarianmanVegetarian meals as a bachelor used to be quite haphazard. I decided to explore alternatives. This is the story of that journey.

I used to eat a lot of meat, perhaps twice what I should have, even if I followed the most generous of the mainstream eating guides. I started to read up on eating in a  healthier way. This lead me to learning more about the vegetarian diet and the reported benefits of it. I soon found that there seemed to be three key themes. These were:

The animal cruelty is easy enough to understand. We raise animals artificially, fattening them up, and then slaughter them to eat. This seems unfair and wrong. (But then, what about protein? I’ll cover that in the next post “What about protein“).

Okay, what about waste reduction? Yes, the inefficiency of the meat industry is well documented. The amount of grains needed to fatten up animals is excessive, with a lot of waste incurred when compared to us just eating the grains efficiently.

Lastly, and perhaps the deciding factor for me personally, was that eating a lot of meat has been found to increase the chances of one getting diseases, such as suffering from cancer or heart attacks.

After reading further into the matter, I found that the vegetarian diet was the best step I could take. I started as a week-day vegetarian until I was happy that I could be healthy on a vegetarian diet alone (see the article on Weekday vegetarians, flexitarians, ovo-lacto vegetarians, vegans and more).

So if you’re thinking of eating more vegetarian food, I would say, go for it, just remember to continue to eat healthy vegetarian food (I ate cake and poor food when I first started as a vegetarian, so avoid that by reading “Cake is not the best vegetarian food“).

 

-Graham

graham@thevegetarianman.com

Welcome to the Website

Welcome to TheVegetarianMan.com. We would like your journey as a vegetarian to be as simple and happy as possible. This is a place for people who would like to learn more about vegetarian food. The inspiration for the name comes from Leonardo Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man, and we hope to help people become great vegetarian humans.

Vitruvian, vegetarian man
Vitruvian, vegetarian man