Friday, January 6, 2012

Protein and Blueberries, why buying 'real' food is better for you.

It's a beautiful day here in Maritime Canada. Snow is gently falling, the roads are clear and the sun is shining. What more could we ask for? I'm going to the butcher shop, Frenchy's secondhand store, the bank and the Post office so I think I'll take Sarah the dog for a ride with me.

The local butcher shop in Wilmot (Sabeans) is nice and clean and they use a lot of locally raised meat so I like that. They also offer freezer packs and sides of pork so for those on a budget it's a good way to stock up when you have money for times when you don't. Unless of course you'll be tempted to just eat all the good stuff at once. The prices and quality are also better than the store so that's good too. Here are 2 differences between meats from a butcher and in the store. Pork looks bi-coloured at a butcher. You can clearly see the difference between the light and dark meats and the pork overall looks a much duskier pink colour than the light and uniformly coloured meat at the supermarket. Beef at the butchers does seem fattier than the ultra lean steaks at the grocery store. So you might be thinking that lean is the way to go, right? WRONG!! If you are trying to cut down on fatty red meat then eat less of the good stuff, not more of the lean stuff. When buying red meat you want to look and see that fat and gristle have been properly trimmed from the outside of the cut but all those little veins of fat you see...that's called marble. Marbling in meat means that it cooks up nice and juicy and it's the fat that contains the flavour. Now I'm not saying that you shouldn't eat leaner meats. Chicken, turkey, pork and even lamb can be good choices if you're getting grass raised meat from a local farmer. Make enquiries about what the animals are fed and see if they have access to pasture so that they can forage for themselves. Livestock raised naturally on pasture do take longer to grow than their commercially fed and raised counterparts. But the heritage breeds that are often raised by small farmers are chosen for their flavour and it's definitely worth it, in my opinion, to pay a little more for better meat that you know something about. Our family, through raising livestock, does eat meat at almost every dinner, but compared to most other people we eat a lot less. A steak is cut to make stew for 7, not eaten just eaten by 1 person. A chicken supplements roasted veggies, salads or maybe a breast is made into butter chicken curry or a pot pie. In North America in particular we are not starved for sources of protein. Most people eat way more than the recommended 1 gram of protein for every kg of weight. So if for example you're a moderately active male weighing 160 lbs you should eat :

160 divided by 2.2 to get kilos = 72.72 kg. Say 73 kg. Times 1 gram per kg = 73 grams of protein per day from all sources.

For people who are active, work hard physically, lift weights etc the number can almost double so that a 120 lb woman who runs, lifts weights and runs a small family farm can eat 109 grams of protein and remain totally healthy.

Here are some sources of protein:

1 large egg = 6 grams
1 cup milk = 8 grams
cheddar cheese 8 grams per oz.
6 oz can of tuna = 40 grams
Most beef or pork cuts are 7 grams of protein per ounce so if you're eating a 16 oz steak you're getting a whopping 112 grams of protein.
Chicken is about 8 grams of protein for every ounce of weight.
Tofu 1/2 cup = 20 grams
Most beans are 8-10 grams of protein per half cup.
2 Tbsp peanut butter = 8 grams of protein.

It's just a short list, but protein, like fat and calories, is something that we should be aware of when doing both meal planning and shopping. Read the labels folks, that's what they're there for.

On the subject of labeling...don't even get me started on truth and lies in advertising! Especially where supposed 'healthy' foods made commercially are concerned. Take blueberries for example. We all now know that blueberries offer health benefits, right? So eating blueberries is part of a healthy diet. And they're delicious. fresh picked or from the farmers market in the summer, locally grown berries of all kinds are nature's candy! Fresh berries truly are one of summers most delightful experiences.

But what about those cereals in the store with blueberries in them or those bagels at your favourite store? They're they must have blueberries in them, right? Well...maybe not. Check out this article.

I have to get going and scrub the kitchen and bathrooms now, sure hope you're having lots of fun, I know I won't.

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