Protein can come from many different sources and they are all important to our health. The different sources of protein also provide other nutrients that are needed for our bodies. When a person thinks of protein they normally think about meat; beef, pork, chicken, and fish. But the other sources that are just as important for reason's beyond just protein are beans, nuts, and eggs. It doesn't matter if you eat meat or if you are a vegetarian, getting complete protein from a variety of sources is good for your health.
Protein is the building blocks for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, enzymes, and hormones, the list could keep going. It is very important for growing children to get plenty of protein in their diet, because in order for a body to grow, the body needs these building blocks. I mentioned complete protein earlier, what I mean by this is there are certain amino acids (those are the things that make up protein) that we have to get from the foods that we eat. Meat sources of protein are complete, meat has all of the amino acids that the body needs. Plants have proteins too, but not all plants contain the needed amino acids, that is why it's important to eat a variety of plants and/or dairy to get all of the needed amino acids to be complete.
OK, so now we know that protein is important for our bodies, what are some ways we can incorporate healthy choices into our busy day?
It is best to chose meats that are low fat. The fat that we want to stay away from is usually visible fats, the fat around the sides of steaks or roasts, the skin on the outside of your chicken. Try to cook your meat in as little of fat as possible. And try and stay away from fast food places which usually have a higher fat option of foods you could cook at home with less fat.
Use your crock pot or roaster! Before you leave for work in the morning, throw a beef roast, pork roast, or whole chicken in, toss in some onion, celery, carrots, and potato. When you come home from work, your supper is waiting for you. This can be done with whatever meat your family likes and it incorporates the different vegetables your family likes. Using the roaster or crock pot is a low fat way to cook, no added fats!
Use your skillet, but don't use it to fry in! One of my favorites, and it's fast and easy, cranberry chicken or pork. I like to start off with seasoning my meat and placing in the pan with a little broth to get the meat started cooking. When it's time to turn your meat, mix together one can of whole cranberry sauce and 1/2 a bottle of French or Russian dressing and a diced onion, top your meat with this and simmer until it's done. This idea can be done with any topping, green peppers and diced tomatoes, or plain old BBQ sauce. Come up with different ideas for different cuts of meat.
There are many different ways to get fast and easy low fat meats on your plates at home. If your in a hurry, don't forget about the other protein options. Cheese sticks are a fast grab, and if you think ahead of time, boils some eggs and keep them in the fridge for a fast snack. Don't forget that nuts are a great way to get in your protein.
The last protein I want to talk about is fish and seafood. These are very healthy and should be eaten a couple times a week to get a dose of omega-3-fatty acids which help lower your risk for heart disease. Canned tuna and salmon are easy ways to eat fish, make a tuna casserole with canned tuna, whole wheat noodles, peas, and a cheese sauce made from a little butter, flour, low fat milk, when that thickens add in your low fat cheese. Salmon patties are a favorite in my house, take the can of salmon (use the bones, good source of calcium) crush some crackers, add an egg, seasonings, onion, worcestershire sauce. Mix it all up an cook it in a skillet. I just made crab cakes last night! Yum!
I hope everyone has fast and easy ways to get healthy low fat protein into your kids mouths. It's too easy to eat those Big Mac's when you're in a hurry.