In my previous article Protein+Fat= Where It’s At I talked about how the body processes carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Today let’s take a look at some healthy fat and protein choices that not only taste good but are quick, easy, and filling.
Milk- Milk is a super food in many ways. Unfortunately, our kids are drinking too much of it. Add cheese and other dairy products and it ends up being the only source of protein for many children. As a measure, keep in mind that two 8 oz. cups of milk contain ALL of the protein that a toddler needs in one day. (One cup of milk has 8 grams protein.) It is best to spread the wealth around and get protein from other sources that do not contain so much sugar (albeit naturally occurring) as well as proteins that contain varying kinds of vitamins, minerals and fats.
Cottage Cheese- Skip that morning bowl of cereal and go for cottage cheese. Cottage cheese has 3 times more protein than an equivalent amount of milk or yogurt and contains less lactose (the naturally occurring sugar in milk products) than either. Beware, cottage cheese does contain a lot of sodium so children should have no more than 6 oz per day. Since you now know how essential fat is to the body, and dairy is a form of healthy fat, always get full/whole or low-fat cottage cheese. The fat aids in absorption of the very important vitamins (such as D, K, A, and calcium) that your body readily absorbs in the form of dairy. That healthy fat also helps keep you fuller longer, with a slow and steady burn off that won’t leave your kids a tired puddle of fuss on the floor at promptly 4pm.
Yogurt- Yogurt is a very healthy choice if you get plain whole or low-fat yogurt or plain Greek yogurt. Unfortunately 99% of yogurt is so heavily sweetened that it’s a treat, not a meal or a snack.
Hard boiled eggs- Eggs are a super food. The perfect combination of protein and fat packaged in a convenient and portable shell. Be sure to eat both the yolk and the white as eating just the whites can deplete vitamin A stores. People often are wary of eggs because of the huge campaign blaming them for high levels of cholesterol. The Weston A. Price Foundation has a wealth of information on the topic of cholesterol and eggs which is worth reading if you are confused and want clarification on the subject of cholesterol.
Hummus- Made with garbanzo beans and sesame tahini, hummus makes a great dip for veggies.
Meat- Most lunch meats out there contain nitrites and nitrates. Nitrites and nitrates are two ingredients to steer clear of. They are known carcinogens and have been linked to everything from leukemia (especially in children) to brain tumors. The Cancer Prevention Coalition sites two studies which really bring the point home:
Peters et al. studied the relationship between the intake of certain foods and the risk of leukemia in children from birth to age 10 in Los Angeles County between 1980 and 1987. The study found that children eating more than 12 hot dogs per month have nine times the normal risk of developing childhood leukemia. A strong risk for childhood leukemia also existed for those children whose fathers’ intake of hot dogs was 12 or more per month.
Researchers Sarusua and Savitz studied childhood cancer cases in Denver and found that children born to mothers who consumed hot dogs one or more times per week during pregnancy has approximately double the risk of developing brain tumors. Children who ate hot dogs one or more times per week were also at higher risk of brain cancer.
Nitrates and Nitrites are commonly used as preservatives in meats. Read your labels. Applegate farms and Newman Ranch do not use nitrates or nitrites. Trader Joe’s also offers nitrate and nitrite free lunch meats, hotdogs, and bacon. Read labels. Nitrates and nitrites are always listed in the ingredient section if they are used.
Beef Jerky- A portable and tasty option, just about every American is fond of beef jerky. Most of the beef Jerky out there contains nitrates and nitrites however Trader Joe’s has really good beef jerky that contain no nitrates and nitrites, no MSG, and some of the beef, depending on type you buy, is organic. There is a lot of salt in beef jerky so a small serving is sufficient.
Tuna- High in protein and omega-3’s (the healthy fat we want to consume), Tuna is another super food. However, because it contains such high levels of mercury it is best to spend a little extra money if you’re going to eat it more than once a month. (Click on “Tuna” for the full story and links to where you can buy low-in-mercury tuna.)
Leftovers make great lunches!- Chili is one of my favorite things to send for lunch. It’s already prepared, and it’s a healthy meal in one small container. Soups are great as well. Heat up at home, put in a stainless steel (on the inside) Thermos type container, add a spoon and done!
Olives- Olives are actually quite filling and contain healthy fat (olive oil). Eat olives alone or add to salad, burritos, tuna salad, etc.
Avocados- Another super food. Avocados are extremely high in healthy fat. I add ¼ avocado to smoothies, eat them with my eggs for breakfast, mix them into hummus, eat them on salads. Sometimes I just take a small one as my snack to a baseball game. Avocado’s are hard to beat. If you are trying to cope with diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, arthritis, etc. then you should eat at least 1/2 of an avocado every single day. They are only “fattening” when you mix them with mayonnaise and eat them with chips.
Nuts and seeds- There are a lot of nut allergies out there however, if you (or your child) are not allergic to nuts, nuts are a fabulous source of healthy fat and protein and provide a lot of staying power. Seeds are as well.
Note that every item I’ve listed here is a “fast” food. Forget the drive thru, plan ahead and still enjoy every bite!
To your health,
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