Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Baked Flax Crackers and Pinto Bean Salad: Adequate Protein on the Vegan Diet

Baked Flax Crackers and Pinto Bean Salad: Adequate Protein on the Vegan Diet
Delicious and nutritious, flax crackers are a healthy alternative to processed chips or junk food.  I like to keep them on hand to use for dipping into home made salsas or fresh guacamole.  Flax crackers are high in protein as well.  One cup of flax seeds have 31 grams of protein.  I had to find an alternative way to make my flax crackers since my old dehydrator has broken and I am waiting to buy a new one.  I decided to bake them in the oven and they came out fine!

Black eyed peas are also high in protein.  One cup of black eyed peas has 13 grams of protein.  I have included part of an article that is posted on the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine website.  By clicking here you can go to the full article.  This article talks about out protein needs and gives a chart of vegetables, beans, etc that are high in protein.  For now I will share my recipe for baked flax crackers.

Baked Flax Crackers:
Ingredients: 2 cups of flax seeds, 2 cups of water

Directions: Grind the flax seeds into a powder.  You can use a vitamixer or a food processor.  Add the ground flax seeds to a bowl and mix in the water.  The flax seeds should soak up the water.  Mix together until you get a dough like consistency.  Spread the flax mixture onto a baking pan with parchment paper on top.  Use a knife to score the crackers into desired shapes.  Set the oven at 400 degrees and bake the crackers for 20 minutes.  Allow them to cool and then break apart.  Enjoy!

How Can I Get Enough Protein? The Protein Myth


Protein is an important nutrient required for the building, maintenance, and repair of tissues in the body. Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, can be synthesized by the body or ingested from food. There are 20 different amino acids in the food we eat, but our body can only make 11 of them. The 9 essential amino acids, which cannot be produced by the body, must be obtained from the diet. A variety of grains, legumes, and vegetables can also provide all of the essential amino acids our bodies require. It was once thought that various plant foods had to be eaten together to get their full protein value, otherwise known as protein combining or protein complementing. We now know that intentional combining is not necessary to obtain all of the essential amino acids.1 As long as the diet contains a variety of grains, legumes, and vegetables, protein needs are easily met.


With the traditional Western diet, the average American consumes about double the protein her or his body needs. Additionally, the main sources of protein consumed tend to be animal products, which are also high in fat and saturated fat. Most individuals are surprised to learn that protein needs are actually much less than what they have been consuming. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein for the average, sedentary adult is only 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight.2
To find out your average individual need, simply perform the following calculation:
Body weight (in pounds) X 0.36 = recommended protein intake (in grams)
However, even this value has a large margin of safety, and the body’s true need is even lower for most people. Protein needs are increased for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. In addition, needs are also higher for very active persons. As these groups require additional calories, increased protein needs can easily be met through larger intake of food consumed daily. Extra serving of legumes, tofu, meat substitutes, or other high protein sources can help meet needs that go beyond the current RDA.


High-protein diets for weight loss, disease prevention, and enhanced athletic performance have been greatly publicized over recent years. However, these diets are supported by little scientific research. Studies show that the healthiest diet is one that is high in carbohydrate, low in fat, and moderate in protein. Increased intake of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are recommended for weight control and preventing diseases such as cancer3 and heart disease.4 High-carbohydrate, low-fat, moderate-protein diets are also recommended for optimal athletic performance.5 Contrary to the information on fad diets currently promoted by some popular books, a diet that is high in protein can actually contribute to disease and other health problems.

Healthy Protein Sources (in grams)

Black beans, boiled (1 cup)15.2
Broccoli (1 cup)4.6
Bulgur, cooked (1 cup)5.6
Chickpeas, boiled (1 cup)14.5
Lentils, boiled (1 cup)17.9
Peanut butter (2 tbsp)8.0
Quinoa, cooked (1 cup)11.0
Seitan* (4 oz)24.0
Spinach, boiled (1 cup)5.4
Tempeh (1/2 cup)15.7
Tofu, firm (1/2 cup)19.9
Whole wheat bread (1 slice)2.7
1. Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets. J Amer Diet Assoc. 2003;103(6):748-765.
2. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (Macronutrients) (2002); Food and Nutrition Board (FNB), Institute of Medicine (IOM) (http://www.nap.edu/books/0309085373/html/)
3. World Cancer Research Fund. Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective. American Institute for Cancer Research. Washington, D.C.: 1997.
4. Ornish D, Brown SE, Scherwitz LW. Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease? Lancet. 1990;336:129-133.
5. Position of the American Dietetic Association: nutrition and athletic performance. J Amer Diet Assoc. 2000;100:1543-1556.

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