We don't need meat and two veg to get our daily quota of protein. Even vegans, who eschew not only meat and fish but also dairy, should have no trouble to get this together: there are other sources, which are often cheaper and more environmentally friendly than what the average meat eater consumes . Legumes, nuts, seeds and fruits, whole grains and cereals can all supply us with enough protein to satisfy our requirements easily.
In general, animal foods such as meat, poultry, eggs, dairy and fish are complete protein sources, while vegetables tend to have only some of the essential amino acids. Until recently it was thought that vegetarians should combine two or more foods with incomplete proteins, to form complementary proteins in each meal. It turns out that this is not strictly necessary. However, it still has advantages, and seems a sensible way to approach a varied and complete diet .
Protein can be found in
pulses or legumes: peas, beans, lentils, soy foods , peanuts (yes, this is a legume!).
nuts: walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, cashews, brazils etc.
seeds: pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flax/linseed, hemp.
cereals: oats, wheat, buckwheat and the pseudo-cereal quinoa . Cereal products like bread etc.
Most vegetables, even potatoes, contribute to our protein intake .
So if you are veg(etari)an or balk at the expense of having decent meat every day, have a look at the recipes below or use your imagination. Vegans will have to use some non-dairy substitutes here and there.
PS The New Scientist debunks six common health myths, see webpage under September 2013.
broad/runner/french beans, marrow, squash, courgette, lettuce, turnip, peas/mangetout, aubergine, pepper, spinach (beet), chard, sweetcorn, shallots, tomatoes, cauli, carrots, cabbage, beet, globe artichoke, cucumber, fennel, radish, kohlrabi, calabrese, chicory, endive, broccoli, swede.
Threat to our wildlife, a delight on your plate: Why We Should Eat More (American Signal) Crayfish, .
Otherwise mackerel, black bream, crab, mussels, scallops.
rabbit, lamb, wood pigeon, duck, goose, grouse, partridge, venison.
spring cabbage, spinach, turnips, oriental vegetables, landcress, rocket, corn salad, winter lettuce, winter purslane. Plant overwintering onion sets, garlic.
COURGETTE CURRY SOUP
450g courgettes, 500ml water/stock, 1 diced onion, 1 tblsp butter, 1/8 tsp cayenne, 1/2 tblsp curry powder, sour cream/yoghurt, chopped chives, salt, pepper.
Sauté onion in butter till soft, chop courgettes, add, sauté till soft. Add stock/water, cayenne, curry powder. Simmer 10 mins, blend. Add cream/yoghurt, salt and pepper. Top with chives.
COURGETTES-RUNNER BEAN SALAD, serves 2 (recipe by Angela Hartnett).
300g runner beans, 2 sliced courgettes, 250g cooked butter beans, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 sliced garlic clove, chopped mint, (fresh coriander), thick yoghurt or vegan substitute for serving. For the vinaigrette: 40ml olive oil, 10ml cider vinegar, 1/8 tsp mustard.
Sauté courgettes with oil and garlic for 6 mins. Slice runner beans into 5cm pieces and cook in salted boiling water for 5 mins. When the courgettes are coloured, transfer to a warm bowl and cover to retain heat. Drain beans and combine with butter beans and courgettes. Whisk dressing, add mint, and mix with the veg which should be still warm. Serve at room temperature with yoghurt on top.
FRENCH BEANS with ALMONDS
French beans for 4; large knob of butter, large handful flaked almonds.
Heat a frying pan (dry) and add flaked almonds. Heat for a few mins, turning often, until lightly browned but not burned. Remove almonds. Trim beans, boil till just soft, drain. Melt butter in the hot pan and return beans to pan. Add almonds, mix.
WARM FRENCH BEAN SALAD
450g French beans, 1 tsp mustard, 1 tblsp cider vinegar, 4 tblsp olive oil, sea salt, pepper, shallot, garlic, (fresh chervil, 1 tblsp capers).
Cook beans till just done. Put mustard and vinegar into bowl, stir oil in. Season, add chopped shallot, (capers) and squashed garlic. Drain beans, dress while they're hot, serve warm. (Sprinkle with chervil.)
PEANUTTY VEG FOR ONE
150g vegetables like carrot, raw beet, celeriac, Florence fennel; 1/2 tblsp peanut butter; 1 smallish onion; 1 clove garlic; butter; chilli/cayenne pepper; salt.
Sauté sliced onion, vegetables and garlic in plenty of butter for a while. Add some water, cover and simmer very gently till done to your liking. Put peanut butter in a bowl and loosen with a bit of the hot liquid. Add to veg, along with lots of red pepper and salt. Serve.
ROAST CAULIFLOWER WITH CUMIN, CORIANDER and ALMONDS
1 cauliflower broken into florets, sea salt, olive oil,
butter, 2 tsp cumin seeds, 2 tsp coriander seeds, 1-2 dried red chillies, a handful of blanched almonds, smashed; zest and juice of 1 lemon.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Blanch cauli in salted boiling water for 2 mins, drain, let steam dry. Mix in plenty of olive oil and butter. Grind spices and chillies with a pinch of salt, mix with almonds and toast in a hot, dry pan. After 2 mins, add the cauli. When it gets a bit coloured, add the lemon zest and juice, mix. Fry for a min., put into the oven for 15 mins to crisp up.
SPICY BEANBURGERS with COURGETTE (makes 8)
1 tin red kidney (or other) beans, 1 diced red onion, 2 chopped garlic cloves, 8 chopped (tinned) tomatoes, 1 diced red pepper, 1 grated courgette, 3 slices of stale bread grated into crumbs, ½ tsp (or more!) hot chilli powder/curry powder, olive oil, salt, pepper, cheese (optional).
Gently sauté onion and garlic in oil for 3-4 mins. Add red pepper for another minute, then the courgette, then spices, cook for 2 more mins. Stir in the tomatoes, cook a bit more if they are fresh. Puree beans with some more oil and a tiny splash of water if it’s too thick. Stir purée into the cooked mix, along with the crumbs, adding those a little at a time until the mix holds together like a dough. Adjust seasoning/spices. Make patties. Using your hands is a good test: if the mix sticks to your fingers, you want to add more breadcrumbs – your hands should stay quite clean. If they are still too sloppy after using up all the crumbs, add some flour.
Fry for ab. 15 mins each side. Put cheese slices on top for the last 4 mins if you like. Serve hot on salad leaves.
Variation: Try using grated carrot/squash, puréed broad beans, chopped mushrooms, peas, spring onions, or sweetcorn. Or add some pesto.
SWISS CHARD and SESAME STIR FRY sidedish.
400g chard leaves, 2 onions, olive oil, 1 heaped tblsp toasted sesame seeds, 1-2 tblsp balsamic vinegar, 1 heaped tblsp chopped coriander leaves or crushed seeds.
Chop onions in half and slice. Chop chard into strips, dry thoroughly. Heat wok or heavy pan - without oil! - and toast seeds until they start to pop, put aside. Heat oil in the wok, add onion. Stir fry for 5 mins, until soft. Add chard and stir fry for 3-4 mins, until wilted. Turn off the heat. Add vinegar, coriander and sesame seeds, mix. Serve immediately.
MILLET and VEGETABLE RISOTTO
4 generous handfuls of seasonal vegetables, 3 tbsp oil, 2 chopped onions, 300g millet, ab. 550ml salted water/stock, 2 heaped tbsp pesto, 2 heaped tbsp tomato puree, juice of 1 lemon, any herbs or spices you like, salt, pepper, large handful of chopped nuts.
Prepare veg. Sauté onion in oil until transparent. Add millet, make sure each grain gets coated in oil. Add water/stock, veg. Add herbs or spices at the appropriate moment, sooner (spices) or later (some herbs).
Bring to the boil and simmer for as long as the vegetables need. This may take longer than you think, depending on how well cooked you like them. They may need extra water so keep an eye on it, but don't add more than necessary.
Add pesto, tomato puree and half the lemon juice. Adjust seasoning and add more lemon if necessary. Serve garnished with the nuts.
 Useful source for vegans: www.vrg.org/nutrition/protein.php.
 but see Thought August '13 for problems with soy: click on 2016>August.
 Most nutritionists, dieticians, and official sources agree that we need only 2.5%-10% of our calories from protein and ALL vegetables offer us more than that, according to http://www.happycow.net/vegetarian_protein.html. www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/jul/18/why-should-eat-more-crayfish
Next month: using fats.