Sunday, September 09, 2007

Protein in Grains

Amaranth Corn Chowder with Whole Wheat Molasses Corn Bread, from Vegetarian Times (I missed the last step - to blend it! So, it looks kinda' soupy. I'll blend it with my lovely immersion blender before I eat the leftovers!). Rating by hubby: 3 stars (out of four!).

Yes, it's true, there is an abundance of protein in many grains - you don't have to eat meat (or beans or nuts or soy) to get your daily intake of protein.

One common misconception about veganism, and the point behind this blog, is that it is deficient in protein. Actually, most people in the US get far more protein than they need. In an excellent article (here), a scientist at Tufts University discusses how this is true, and the side effects of too much protein. This includes calcium loss leading to osteoporosis, and kidney stress. The extra protein inhaled by Americans (including those on the Atkins diet) is actually excreted in urine and feces. It cannot be stored up!

In addition, people often get their protein from a few sources: red meat, chicken, and dairy (sometimes fish). Compare that to the wonderful foods vegans often explore: grains like amaranth and quinoa, countless soy products like tofu and tempeh, nuts and nut butters in huge variety from cashews to almonds, seitan (aka wheat meat), which can be used in any way you can imagine, and especially beans, whose variety number in the thousands and can be eaten in countless ways including the (often overdone)
dips and chili.
This is amanranth, a beautiful and amazing grain. I was inspired to write about this grain this week by one of the many blogs I read, but as I come to write this, I cannot for the life of me remember whose it was! I searched my favorites, but no luck.

Anyhow, here is a great link to some exciting information about amaranth and here is another for ordering it and recipe ideas. If you can't access these links, here is amaranth in a nutshell. It contains more lysine (amino acid) than the powerhouse quinoa. It is gluten free (good for those with wheat allergies!). Just 150 grams supplies an adult's entire daily allowance of protein! It is extremely high in fiber, magnesium and phosphorus. It was highly valued by the Aztecs (and thus cultivated in Mexico for thousands of years) but because it was used in rituals, their Spanish conquerors banned it from being grown and burned every crop they could.
Here is my great grain shelf! You can't see the labels, but it includes bulgur, quinoa, spelt, amaranth, Israeli couscous, millet, several varieties of rice (OK, so that is a seed, I think), plus whole grain pastas and TVP. Now, I ask you, where do you get your protein?


Rajitha said...

wow!! that soup looks delicious..btw..good info on the amaranth..

bee said...

beautiful blog. i'm adding you to our blogroll, if you don't mind.

The Little Vegan said...

you have such a cute posting name :o)

The Little Vegan said...

It reminds me of the quote,"Why do we call some animals 'pets' and other animals 'dinner'".

VeggieGirl said...

yes! proves once again that you don't need animal-protein to GET protein :0)

tippitappi said...

Grains are seeds! what do you mean when you say rice is a seed?!?
Anyways, your cupboard looks very much like mine, I keep barley, millet, white and brown rice and all the pulses in big glass jars... they are simply the basis of my daily diet. Love from Italy


tippitappi said...

I realised I never answered your question: where do I get my protein? I know there are proteins in wholemeal grains (or seeds) like brown rice for example. I try to eat toasted sunflower seed, almonds, and hazelnuts everyday as a snack, plus I always have a serving of pulses (red beans, chick peas, peas..) or seitan or tofu with every lunch/dinner. I feel fine and have lots of energy!

Almost Vegetarian said...

This is so true. About the protein, that is. It is one of those myths that just won't go away. Ah well.


bazu said...

I love this post- I have a bunch of amaranth sitting in my pantry, and have been wondering what to do with it!

I think vegan or not, most of us in the U.S. get way too much protein, so as you said, it's not a worry!

Peace, Love and Veganism said...

Yeah, oops - thanks, Tippitappi (cute t-shirts by the way!) about the grain/seed/rice thing. That's what happens when you rush a post ;) Yes, rice is a grain and grains are the seeds of plants.

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

We eat tons of quinoa around here, but we haven't used amaranth for anything! I've seen it in the bulk bins of my local co-op, any tips for using it?