February 27th is National Protein Day.
If you don’t remember high school biology:
Proteins are made up of chains of smaller chemicals called amino acids. The human body can’t store amino acids, so it must be obtained daily from the foods we eat.
Protein deficiency can occur when you’re not eating enough protein to maintain normal body function.
It can cause muscle cramping, weakness and soreness.
Your body will take protein from your muscle tissue and use it as energy to support other vital body functions.
Studies show that one-third of adults over 50 don’t eat enough protein. Here’s more about protein deficiency.
FOODS HIGH IN PROTEIN
You know what they are, but here’s the official list:
Beans and legumes (such as lentils and chickpeas)
Dairy products like cheese, milk and yogurt
Lean meat, poultry and fish
Seeds and nuts
While vegetables don’t have as much protein as these, the higher-protein vegetables include artichokes, asparagus, avocado, bean sprouts, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, corn, green peas, lima beans, mushrooms potatoes and sweet potatoes, and spinach.
How Much Protein Do You Need To Eat
At a minimum, your daily consumption should include [source]:
Men aged 19-50 years: 3 servings
Men aged 51 years and over: 2 ½ servings
Women aged 19-50 years: 2½ servings
Women aged 51 years and over: 2 servings
And by the way, if you haven’t eaten your daily quota of protein but don’t want a meal, a couple of spoonfuls of hummus from the container do the trick.
HUMMUS BOWLS: PROTEIN IS FUN!
One way to get your protein is a hummus bowl.
Not only is hummus (made from chickpeas) protein-packed, but you can add any other protein on top of it—as well as grains and veggies.
A bonus: You can go into your fridge, find odds and ends, and toss them them on top of the hummus. A basic template for bowl-building:
Topped with grains and/or vegetables (raw, roasted)
Topped with protein (eggs, fish, meat, tofu)
Topped with nuts or seeds
Optional garnishes: cheese, chopped scallions, dressing, fresh herbs, hot sauce, olives, pickles, spices (chile flakes, sesame seeds)
We don’t have to look too far in our kitchen. We always have a container of hummus in the fridge, a bag of peeled hard-boiled eggs, cheeses, raw vegetables, and jars on the shelf of artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, roasted red peppers and sundried tomatoes.
No leftover proteins? Grab a can of tuna.
MINI-TIP: You can turn a hummus bowl into a pizza! The pizza crust or naan with everything but salad ingredients, which go on top after the pizza comes out of the oven. (Our favorite salad topping is arugula.)
HUMMUS BOWLS FOR ANY MEAL
Looking at the lists above, it’s easy to conceive hummus bowls for lunch and dinner. What about breakfast?
Here are some ideas to add to the hummus:
Breakfast meat (bacon, pancetta, sausage)
Cooked spinach, summer squash or winter squash (we love the sweetness of acorn and butternut)
Dried fruits (blueberries, cherries, cranberries, dates, figs, raisins, etc.)
Lentils or a mild grain (e.g. barley, brown rice—unless you like earthy/nutty flavors for breakfast)
Eggs any style (including hard-boiled)
Fresh fruits: berries, citrus segments or whatever pairs with your other ingredients
Seeds: chia, flax, pumpkin/pepita, sunflower
Soft cheese (boursault, cotija, cottage/farmer, feta, goat, mozzarella, paneer, queso fresco, ricotta)
Smoked salmon or other smoked fish
Toast on the side
Ready to go bowl-ing?
 Hummus breakfast bowl with soft-boiled eggs, roasted cauliflower and toasted pita. Here’s the recipe from Pinch Of Yum (photo © Pinch Of Yum).
 For lunch, a Greek Salad hummus bowl with quinoa. Here’s the recipe from Baked Greens (photo © Baked Greens).
 Dinner time: Chicken Shawarma (or any chicken preparation) with cucumbers, feta, red cabbage and pickled red onions. Here’s the recipe from Plays Well With Butter (photo © Plays Well With Butter).
 Double the protein: This hummus bowl includes roasted chickpeas, colorful veggies and Kalamata olives. Here’s the recipe from Culinary Hill (photo © Culinary Hill).