Eat your vegetables: Let’s talk protein

 

Charred Corn and Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Are we getting enough protein, and do we need to worry about it?

I watched a documentary this week called “What the Health,” in which the author reminds us that the most muscular animals on the planet – and I’m talking elephants, rhinos, buffaloes and gorillas here – get their protein directly from the source –  plants. As a result, all protein ingested from animal flesh is a secondary resource. Strange to consider.

Unlike wolves and lions, we humans, much like our gorilla brethren, are not true carnivores, with sharp, pointy teeth designed to tear into flesh. No, we have chewing teeth, similar to cows. Those so-called “canines” are a bit of a misnomer.

As a non-authority in general, I long ago stopped worrying whether or not I’m getting enough fiber, protein, vitamin D, zinc, or exercise. I just stick to eating fresh, tasty, mostly home-made meals, in a wide range of colors, textures and seasoning. Along with meats and dairy products, I’ve cut out processed foods (if it’s advertised on TV, it’s processed), and over-use of oils. And part of the good news is, I’ve dropped about 10 pounds since enjoying a vegan diet.

There are a number of documentaries out there on Netflix that demonstrate some pretty good reasons for considering a change to a vegan diet. Come on, let’s be like Mikey – “Try it, you’ll like it!”

Here are three recipes that insure you’re getting plenty of protein in your diet with – what else – beans!

 

CHARRED CORN AND BLACK BEAN STUFFED SWEET POTATOES

Forget pizza and take-out, baked stuffed sweet potatoes are completely addictive and absolutely good for you!This recipe is a dairy free and vegan whole food recipes from One Green Planet.

INGREDIENTS

Sweet Potatoes:

4 medium sweet potatoes

1 cup cooked corn, fresh or frozen and thawed

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 teaspoon each sweet and smoked paprika

Garlicky Tahini Sauce:

4 tablespoons tahini

3 cloves roasted garlic

Salt and pepper, to taste

1-2 tablespoons water, to thin

Toppings:

Smashed avocado

Chopped tomatoes

Cilantro

Pumpkin seeds

Chili flakes

PREPARATION

To Make the Sweet Potatoes:

  1. Preheat your oven to 355ºF.
  2. Wash and scrub your sweet potatoes, then pat them dry and pierce in a few places with a fork.
  3. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to one hour. They’ll be done when soft inside but the skin still holds its place. At the same time the sweet potatoes are baking, roast a head of garlic by chopping the top off, drizzling on some oil, wrapping in tin foil, and placing it on the oven rack.
  4. When there are 10 minutes left to baking the sweet potato, place a skillet on medium-high heat with the corn – no need to add any oil here. Sprinkle some salt and let the corn heat up, without stirring, for about three minutes. Give it a stir, then let sit for another three minutes. Give it one last stir and let cook until charred on the outside. Set aside while you make the black beans.
  5. For the black beans, dry toast the cumin seeds in the pan and then add the black beans and spices. Cook on medium until warmed though. Taste and adjust any seasonings, and set aside.
  6. Quickly smash the avocado flesh and dice some tomatoes.
  7. Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven, and when cool enough to handle carefully use a knife make a cut length-wise. Scoop out some of the flesh, and mix with the black beans before re-filling back into the sweet potato.
  8. Serve topped with the charred corn and avocado, a drizzle of the tahini sauce, some coriander/cilantro, and pumpkin seeds.
  9. To Make the Tahini Sauce:
  10. Simply blend all the ingredients together in a small blender, or alternatively mix by hand.
  11. To get the clove of garlic, carefully remove the entire head of garlic from the oven and squeeze out three cloves. Keep the rest of the roasted garlic in a container in the fridge.*

NOTES

*You can use roasted garlic for anything and everything! It’s amazing smothered onto toast, or added to sauces and dips. It should last about 1-2 weeks in a sealed container in the fridge.

 

 

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