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Kaylor: Variety key with proteins

By Staff | Dec 26, 2014

During the holidays, we often have a chance to taste new foods and old family favorites. Remember to vary your protein sources. We all need protein in our diet to build and repair our cells and maintain good health. People age 9 and older need 5 to 7 ounces of protein foods each day. When you are choosing protein foods, include foods from animal sources (meat, poultry, seafood and eggs) and foods from plant sources (beans, peas, soy products, nuts and seeds).

Vary your protein

food choices

How about navy bean or split pea soup on a cold winter day? Consider soy nuts for a protein-rich snack during the holidays.

Choose seafood

twice a week

Would tuna salad sandwiches or salmon patties offer a change of pace on your menu?

Choose lean or extra-lean cuts of meat

Look for “round” or “sirloin” as part of the name of the cut. Be sure to trim or drain fat from meat and remove poultry skin.

Have an egg

Eggs are inexpensive, high-quality sources of protein. One egg a day, on average, does not increase your risk for heart disease. However, follow the advice of your health-care provider.

Add plant protein foods to your menu more often

Try kidney beans, lentils, split peas, white beans and black beans. Add some beans to your taco meat, chili or casseroles to add fiber and vitamins.

Sprinkle on nuts and seeds

Add some crunchy, unsalted sunflower seeds or peanuts to your salads or main dishes. Remember, though, that nuts and seeds are a concentrated source of calories, so eat small portions.

Try grilling, broiling,

roasting and baking

These cooking methods do not add extra fat.

If you buy a less-tender cut of meat, such as round steak, try cutting it into chunks and

cooking it in a slow cooker to tenderize the meat.

Make a hearty,

healthful sandwich

How about a turkey, roast beef or a peanut butter sandwich on whole-wheat bread?

Know your portion sizes

A 3-ounce serving of meat is about the size of a deck of cards.

One-half cup of cooked beans or lentils counts as 2 ounces. Most people need only two servings (6 ounces total) of protein foods per day.

Check the sodium

Read and compare Nutrition Facts labels. Canned and processed foods often are higher in sodium.

Here’s a protein-rich and quick meal for a busy evening during the holidays. The beans add fiber and vitamins. Beef is an excellent source of protein, zinc and iron.


1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 pounds lean or extra-lean ground beef

1 medium green pepper, diced finely

2 Tbsp. onion, chopped finely

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. chili powder

1 Tbsp. cumin

2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce

24 taco shells

2 c. lettuce

6 ounces shredded cheddar cheese

Mash beans with enough liquid to make a thick puree. Brown ground beef with pepper, onion, sugar, salt, chili powder and cumin. Cook three to five minutes. Stir beef mixture and tomato sauce into bean puree. Cook slowly 30 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Fill taco shells and top with lettuce and cheese.

Makes 12 servings (two tacos per serving).

Per serving: 340 calories, 14 grams (g) fat, 24 g protein, 26 g carbohydrate and 600 milligrams sodium

From NDSU Extension Service Food Wise Julie Garden-Robinson, Food & Nutrition Specialist

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