Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday Munch: Protein and Toddler Protein Requirements PLUS Quinoa Recipe's

To meet Jess's nutritional requirements I am slowly introducing new, varied and nutritious foods. This week I will chat about Protein. Jesse, at 14 months, still gets the majority of his calories from breast milk, however, as he gets older he is getting more and more inquisitive about food. Although he is doing very well developmentally, and is so healthy on a diet of mainly fruit, he also wants to try out everything we are eating. I try to ensure that our meals are super healthy so that he can share them if he so wishes.

The reason he is doing so well on fruit is because all fruit contains vitamins and minerals (including calcium and iron) which are all in a form which is ready to be absorbed by the human body and disseminated. Protein too is present in its simplest form, amino acids, and ready to be absorbed and disseminated. There is even fat present in fruit, ready to be absorbed and disseminated.

Protein is made up of 23 amino acids which are the building blocks of all protein in the body. The human body contains an amino acid pool which it draws from and deposits into as it needs and consumes. This pool is found in the blood, liver and cells. Even on a fruit diet, adequate amounts of protein can be supplied. Two amino acids are essential to children only, arginine (which is found in chocolate, buckwheat and wheatgerm amongst other foods) and histine (found in rice, wheat and rye). Goji berries contain both amino acids. 

The protein requirements of the human body have been largely over-rated. Most sources state a far too large amount of protein needed. A full grown male actually only needs 60 – 75g per day. One can work out the protein requirements of a child providing 1g of protein for every 2kg’s of body weight.

We need protein mainly for growth and repair and the period that we grow the fastest is during the first six months of our lives, during this time nature has provided us with the most perfect food; mother’s milk. The average percentage of protein in this milk is a mere 1.6% less than any average fruit. (The Natural Way – Mary-Anne Shearer)

The danger with protein is in fact not that a diet will not provide enough, but that it provides too much.
T Colin Campbell performed the most thorough research on human nutrition and documented it in his book The China Study. He noted that consumption of high amounts of protein, especially animal protein, was linked to chronic diseases. 
All food does contain protein, some concentrated and some un-concentrated. Concentrated protein is found in nuts, seeds, cheese, meat and fish. Fruit contains un-concentrated protein. A baby has an immature digestive tract so feeding a child concentrated protein or starch before he has a full set of teeth and can chew properly is not only a waste of time and money but is likely to cause problems down the line. Food is not broken down properly and so ferments in the stomach producing by-products such as alcohol. Often incompletely broken down food molecules can be absorbed into the blood stream and because they are foreign to the body they result in an antibody reaction which leads to the development of allergies to a variety of foods, e.g. gluten intolerance. (Healthy Kids – Mary-Anne Shearer & Charlotte Meschedes) 
It is interesting to note that a banana contains all eight essential amino acids. 100g of banana provides 1.3g of protein. Jesse loves bananas, and easily eats 3 small bananas a day. 

Other foods which are high in protein are below:

As you can see seeds are high in protein, and one seed that I use often for meals is quinoa, Jess tried it for the first time this past week, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I used two recipes, one recipe uses raw and sprouted quinoa, and the other cooked quinoa. Jess seemed to find the cooked quinoa harder to digest as most of it went straight through him, this doesn't surprise me as raw protein is easier to digest than that which is cooked.

{RECIPE} Quinoa Salad with Roasted Butternut, Roasted Vine Tomatoes, Parsley and Cranberries

This recipe was made from contents out of our veggie patch and in our fridge, and I was amazed by how well it turned out. 

1 small butternut - peeled and chopped up small
3 vines of baby tomatoes or 12 cherry tomatoes
1 cup Quinoa
1/4 cup Dried Cranberries
1/2 cup Fresh Parsley

Place the quinoa in 2 cups of water in a bot on medium heat. Simmer till all the water has evapourated.

Place the chopped butternut and vine tomatoes on a baking tray in the oven on 180C till the butternut is soft and the tomatoes are sticky.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and enjoy hot or cold. Feeds one breastfeeding mommy and a hungry toddler.

{RECIPE} Raw, Sprouted Quinoa & Spinach Salad

The inspiration for the next recipe came from Evie's Kitchen by Shazzie, although I added a few more ingredients and a dressing to make it more to my taste. This recipe requires a few days preparation time, as you need to allow the quinoa to sprout. 

80g Quinoa
30g Spinach (we had Spinach brights in the garden which made my salad nice and colourful)
1/2 Cucumber
1 Carrot
30g Butternut
10g Parsley
Juice of 1/4 lemon
Olive oil or coconut oil

Soak the quinoa in water overnight. rinse, drain and sprout for a day. the next day, rinse the quinoa sprouts again and place on a clean kitchen towel to absorb as much excess water as possible.

Grate the carrot and butternut, chop the parsley, dice the cucumber and toss all ingredients into a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice before serving.

What protein rich foods do you and your toddler enjoy?

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