(Steak and Arugula Salad from my cookbook, Fresh: Nourishing Salads for all Seasons).
As we are getting close to our 10 Day Produce and Protein Challenge, I wanted to talk more about the challenge’s guidelines and where they came from.
How much protein and vegetables should we be eating everyday on a normal basis (and what will we be aiming for in our challenge)? I believe that everyone is unique and that there is not one diet for mankind. However, I have personally found the suggestions and guidelines from Julia Ross’s book, The Mood Cure helpful.
In this fascinating book, Julia Ross talks about how protein provides the building blocks your body needs to regulate a healthy body (and a good mood). Vegetables provide other minerals and vitamins also much needed by the body. Fats help you absorb and carry those nutrients and carbohydrates help give us energy. This sounds like a well rounded diet, doesn’t it? Yet, if you are like many, our diets can be quickly imbalanced unnoticed by us, even while eating “healthy” foods.
In regard to protein, She had this to say, “ There’s no question about this one. I’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of people add more protein to their lives and report great changes in their moods within days as a result. The word protein actually means “of primary importance” in Greek. As I’ve said in every chapter of this book, without protein you cannot feel optimistic, enthusaiastic, calm or comforted.”
And in each chapter dealing with different needed hormones she walks you through why you need protein for the production of many different hormones and for the balancing of many different health issues.
About vegetables she says, ” They’re loaded with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that made good moods possible. They’re the indispensable partners to the good mood protein and fats in providing the nutrients you brain needs most.”
Here are her guidelines.
Put your first emphasis at all three meals on protein, fat, and vegetables. Eat 20-30 grams of protein at each meal, about the size of the palm of your hand. Eat lots of green and some red, orange, purple, and yellow vegetables every day. Your goal is at least 4-5 cups of vegetables a day.
Here is the example she gives for what it would look like to get that many vegetables, ” How many vegetables fill my mood requirements everyday? you ask. Answer: From 4-5 cups a day, the amount of veggies that would overflow if you put them into a quart container like a milk carton. Think a good size salad, plus 2 cups cooked or raw vegetables. Or a big salad (8 cups) containing lots of veggies. Think a large Caesar at lunch and a stir-fry with snow peas, cabbage and broccoli florets at dinner. (It takes 2 cups of leafy greens like lettuce or raw spinach to make a cup, because it’s so fluffy and insubstantial).
In my case of regaining my energy, I was eating two very large salads most days, as well as fruit, other veggies, and plenty of protein and carbs.
She goes on to say that there is not a quota for fat, but that you definitely should get plenty of essential and saturated fat (extra virgin olive oil, butter, coconut oil, ghee, etc). As well as plenty of liquids and high-carbohydrate foods such as fruit, high-carb vegetables, legume or whole grains as needed. As long as you don’t have blood sugar issues, she does think that fruits also add a lot of nutrients to your diet. Fish is recommended twice a week.
So those are her guidelines in her book. We, together will be aiming to eat that much protein and vegetables with plenty of high quality fats and carbohydrates. You Ready?