Protein. How much do you get a day? And how much do you really need?
Since moving somewhere
slightly isolated where decent food is difficult to source (in particular fruits, vegetables and good quality meat) and one’s psychological state must be well cared for (oh the stories of mid-winter depression!), I have become hugely aware of my nutritional needs. Jesse and I have been learning which nutrients will help beat mid-winter depression, the vitamins most important to make up for lack of sun, and the required amount of protein to sustain food-pangs during a hectic work day. And to build and repair muscles.
Yes. I am fond of building and repairing muscles. No this isn’t a fitness blog so I will spare you the details of my personal goals and workout regime. But let’s just keep it simple and food related: women, we need more protein!
I’m going to run through the statistics, because these fascinate me. If they don’t you, skip ahead to the recipe. It’s a goodie!
So, here we go!
The average female with no work out goals requires approx. 0.7 grams per pound of body weight a day. So, in a nutshell, a 58kg (130lb) woman requires 91 grams of protein as a daily minimum to function healthily. If you look at the average woman’s diet, in particular one who is consciously trying to eat well with a good level of protein, we might see an egg (6g protein) and a bowl of oats (11g protein) for breakfast, a cup of chickpeas (15g protein) as part of lunch, and 100g chicken (21g protein) with dinner. Giving us a total of 53 grams of protein a day.
Not quite the 91 grams minimum..
So. Let’s now take a healthy female with goals of building muscle, getting “toned”, maintaining muscle while losing fat, or improving athletic performance… and suddenly that requirement jumps up to 1 – 1.2 grams per pound of body weight. That’s over 130g of protein a day! How the heck does one consume that much protein? [Source and source]
We attempt to meet the requirement by eating bowl-fulls of black beans, and spreading chickpea paste (hummus) on our wraps and sandwiches. Chicken has made a regular appearance on the menu after months of very little meat. And we’ve discovered that canned tuna (in water) can turn a nothing dish into a complete meal. Eggs are a winner – yet I can barely manage to eat two in one sitting. (Can’t yet understand how body sculptors do it!)
But our favorite solution? Throwing as much protein into every baked good we eat. Basically, if calories are going to be spent on brownie, it better be protein packed brownie! Protein powder comes in handy here, as do nuts and dried fruit. Take that pure peanut butter you whipped up, repeat the process with dates, and coconut, and create this perfect post-workout snack.
Triple Decker Peanut Butter Squares
Recipe from The Healthy Foodie
¼ cup coconut cream (canned)
¼ cup coconut butter*
¼ cup date paste*
1 tbsp vanilla flavored whey protein powder (I used unflavored soy protein powder)
1/3 cup dark cocoa powder
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Add all ingredients except oats to the bowl of your food processor and process until the mixture turns into a sticky paste. Add oats and process until well combined. Press to the bottom of a 8 x 8 square pan lined with parchment paper. Place in freezer to help firm up while making second layer.
PEANUT BUTTER FILLING
2 tbsp plain whey protein powder
¼ cup date paste
1/3 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp coconut cream
Add all ingredients to the bowl of your food processor (no need to clean it…) and process until smooth. Press that mixture evenly on top of the first layer. It will be on the dry side and will need a little bit of persuasion to get in its place. Use a flat rubber or metal spatula to help even it out.
TOP CHOCOLATE LAYER
1 tbsp vanilla flavored whey protein powder
3 tbps dark cocoa powder
¼ cup peanut butter
2 tbsp date paste
2 tbsp coconut cream
Add all ingredients to food processor, process until smooth and press on top of middle layer. Use a flat spatula to help make the frosting nice and smooth.
1 tbsp peanut butter
½ tbsp vanilla flavored whey protein powder
1 tbsp coconut cream (the canned variety)
In a medium mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients together until smooth. It will be a fairly thick paste. Transfer the paste to a small plastic bag (ziploc style) and make a little hole in one corner. Push all the mixture to that corner and press to drizzle mixture over the top layer as desired.
Refrigerate the bars at least 4 hours before cutting into 30 squares. Keep refrigerated for up to a week, or store in the freezer (they are great super cold!)
*Date paste can be made simply by soaking dates in boiling water (enough to cover) until soft (10 minutes does the trick) before pureeing in the food processor. Any extra can be refrigerated. Coconut butter is made by processing 1 cup coconut (shredded or dessicated) until a paste forms – this can take a looong time. Like, 20 minutes. So be patient, scrape it down plenty, and store left overs in the refrigerator. Wonderful spread on fresh muffins or stirred into oatmeal.
Yield: 30 bars
Calories per serving: 104
Macros per serving: Carbs 4g | Fat 6g | Protein 7g