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From Your Table to Your Health: Protein Not Reserved for Meats

Dietitian Becky Varner shares information and recipes about enriching the proteins in your diet.
BY BECKY VARNER Modified: May 16, 2012 at 2:04 pm •  Published: May 16, 2012

The proteins in foods and beverages we consume are fundamental for good health and for life itself. Proteins are a part of every cell in the body.

Maybe that's why we're such natural meat-eaters. But protein isn't reserved for meats, and it's a good thing because proteins are in high demand.

Proteins are made up of amino acids. There are thousands of unique proteins in the body differentiated by amino-acid structure. Different types of body tissues such as blood, muscles, bone, skin and organs are made of similar materials, but made unique by the patterns of the amino acids.

Protein is constantly necessary to build, repair and maintain body tissues in the body. It also regulates many body processes and is a part of enzymes and hormones needed for many of the chemical reactions that occur in the body. Almost everything the body does requires protein.

The specific amino acids and the arrangement of them in foods is also what make the proteins in various foods different. Protein is found in a wide variety of both animal and plant sources.

Examples of animal sources of protein include meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, milk and milk products. Beans, peas, nuts, soy products and seeds are examples of plant-based proteins. Consuming a variety of protein sources in a balanced diet can contribute to improved nutrient intake and health benefits.

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Garbanzo and peanut soup recipe

Makes 4 servings

1 teaspoon canola oil

2 cups diced onion

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

2 cups fat free unsalted chicken broth, divided into 1½ cups and ½ cup

1½ teaspoons curry powder

½ teaspoon ground cumin

16 ounce can garbanzo beans, do not drain

¼ cup creamy peanut butter

Paprika for garnish

• Pour oil in a large pan and heat to medium. When oil is hot add onion and ginger. Saute, stirring occasionally until tender.

• Add 1½ cups of the chicken stock, curry powder and cumin. Simmer about 10 minutes.

• Meanwhile put garbanzo beans (including liquid), ½ cup chicken stock and peanut butter in blender and blend until smooth.

• Add contents in pan to blender and blend until smooth.

• Pour contents of blender back into pan and heat until hot.

• Divide into 4 bowls or cups.

Nutrition Information: This recipe makes 4 servings. Each serving contains approximately 295 calories, 16 grams protein, 12 grams fat, 28 grams carbohydrate and 406 milligrams sodium.

Source: Becky Varner


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