When you think of dietary protein, what do you think of? Hopefully you think of Proteins life sustaining nutritional value.

Most people think of eggs and meat and then possibly protein powders, these are the richest sources of complete proteins. If you think a little deeper or have researched you might come up with nuts, seeds, legumes and beans.

Contrary to many people’s opinion we don’t need a large slab of meat every night, but nor can we nourish our body without regular protein.  My recommendations is start your day with some protein. Eggs, oats, chia seeds and yogurt, all have protein. Then make sure your lunch has some protein, left over from the night before is always a good option and even your snacks – skip the muffin and have some nuts and seeds.

You may have noticed from my social media pictures I love beans. Beans are known for their many health-promoting properties, including being low GI and being rich in prebiotic fibres, as well as protein. If you have a sensitive gut you may not tolerate all beans or large quantities of them. Carefully selecting and trialling small serves of different varieties regularly, is the best approach when introducing them to your diet.  On a scale most people can tolerate lentils, then white beans and more people have a problem with kidney beans.

Plant-based proteins tend to have lower levels of essential amino acids and overall protein than animal. But this is compensated by the higher levels of Phyto-nutrients and fibre. These extra plant nutrients provide protective benefits to the quality fats found nuts and seeds.

My favourite beans are Adzuki. These are little red beans that work equally well in savoury and sweet (e.g GF brownies recipe). I like the flavour but also their protein content and I find most people, even with gastrointestinal issues are OK with them. For this recipe you could easily swap the Adzuki beans for Black beans or Borlotti beans. II will serve this dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Recipe for Adzuki bean and Pumpkin Hotpot

1 tab olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 celery sticks, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 large clove of garlic

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp of chilli flakes (more on less depending on your family taste)

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp smoky paprika

1 cinnamon stick (or ¼ tsp ground cinnamon)

1 cup of precooked or 400g tin of adzuki beans

300g cooked and mashed pumpkin

1 cup of vegetable stock

¼ cup tomato puree

  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add onion, celery and carrots, sauté until beginning to soften, 6-8 minutes.
  • Add salt and spices along with beans, mashed pumpkin, stock and tomato puree. Stir to combine and simmer for 40 minutes. Stir occasionally, if you like more of a soup consistency add more stock. Serve with your favourite greens, brown rice or quinoa

This will serve 6. I would normally make at least double this so I can freeze for another meal and lunch portions.

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