Protein Doesn’t Just Mean Meat

This post was written by VT Dietetic students Lauren Jaeger, Olivia Privitera, Jessica Perkins, Jillian Rogers, and Samantha Altizer.

When people often hear the word “protein,” they immediately think of meat. But there are more protein sources that are healthier, cheaper, and easier to cook than meat protein sources. Some examples of these are beans, such as black beans and pinto beans.

Pot of beans, a plant-based protein

Beans are a low-cost, lean protein option.

One way to cook lean protein sources is by using a slow cooker, which is a tool to cook food over a long period of time. One of the best features is that meals can be prepared in the morning before work and the meal will be ready by the end of the day when your family is ready to eat! The best way to use a slow cooker is to fill it three-quarters of the way full, making sure there is water covering the food, and set the timer for how many hours are needed to cook the food. To make beans in a slow cooker, follow these easy steps:

  1. Wash one pound of dry beans and soak them overnight in cold water
  2. Put the beans in the slow cooker and cover them with water
  3. Add seasonings! For example oregano, chili powder, bay leaf, onions, and/or house seasonings to match your tastes!
  4. Cook until beans are tender.

Shifting to leaner proteins can have these benefits:

  1. Save money
    • Eating beans and eggs are a cheaper option than meats and provide similar nutrients.
    • Plant-based proteins can be bought in cans, dried, or frozen which can be cheaper than fresh products.
  2. Increases dietary fiber intake
    • Beans and legumes are high in fiber which increases the feeling fullness and helps with weight management.
  3. Reduces added fat
    • Choosing lean (90% or greater) meats and plant-based proteins will significantly reduce saturated and total fat

Next time when thinking about cooking meat, consider using lean meat options or plant-based proteins!

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