Sunday, October 2, 2011

Protein: Gathering Energy

I think many of us in our everyday lives long for more energy.  This is especially true, however, when you are undergoing chemo.  Don't we all really long to feel like we have the energy and lightness of a bird, as if we can fly? It certainly is a good goal!

"Joyous the birds; fresh gales and gentle airs
Whisper’d it to the woods, and from their wings
Flung rose..."

-John Milton

Having energy is complicated as it comes from so many sources: sleep, exercise, hydration, mental health, connections with others, physical health, nutrition.  Getting a good dose of protein every meal of the day is a good start.

Americans tend to have a bit of an obsession with protein, though, and it's important to know that there are many vegetables (kale, leafy greens) and grains (quinoa) and excellent supplements for smoothies and such (spirulina) that have sufficient protein to keep us at our best.  It's also critical to not bog our systems down with too many energy-draining foods, such as dairy, red meat, and processed foods.

Nuts make great snacks.  And did you know that a handful of cashews has the same effect on your mental health as taking a Prozac?  Eating real, good food is just great for you in every way.

Tilapia with pistachio "breading," over greens with vinaigrette, 
and roasted butternut squash crescents.

Tilapia with Pistachio "Breading"
(serves two)

Handful of pistachio nuts, shelled
1 Tbs. almond meal (or corn meal will do, too)
1/4 tsp. sea salt
Half a lemon
2 Tilapia filet*
1 tsp. coconut oil

*On Tilapia: The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch considers U.S. farmed tilapia to be a "best choice" fish. It is a good candidate for farming because it provides more protein than it takes to raise it (in contrast to farmed fish such as tuna and salmon.) Tilapia can also invade many natural habitats so is a good candidate for farming.

-In a Cuisinart, chop up the shelled pistachios until they are finely ground (about a minute). Add the almond meal and sea salt and pulse a few more times.
-Press the "breading" mixture into the Tilapia filets, on both sides. Cover well.
-Heat a large cast iron pan and add the tsp. of coconut oil.
-Saute the Tilapia in the pan, about 4 minutes per side, or until cooked through.  About halfway through cooking on each side, squeeze a little lemon on each piece of fish.
-Put a bed of mixed greens with a splash of vinaigrette on 2 plates. Lay fish on top and serve!

My Favorite Vinaigrette

In a small jar place:
1 part balsamic vinegar
a squeeze of yellow mustard
a big squeeze of honey
a pinch of sea salt
-Put the lid on and SHAKE until combined.
-Then add:
2 parts good olive oil
-SHAKE again until well combined

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