We’ve been talking about creating our healthy pantries this week, and tonight will probably be the most controversial so far. Pretty much everyone eats the staples that we talked about earlier in the week, and everyone eats (or should be eating) at least some vegetables, even if you don’t love ALL vegetables. But tonight, we are going to talk about meat, eggs, fish, and other animal sources of protein along with some traditional vegetarian sources of protein.
I know some of you are not meat eaters. My vegan and vegetarian friends, I hope you will substitute your own healthy protein sources for the meat. It’s okay if you don’t like meat, too. Some body types do better without meat in their diets. It’s really a matter of preference. But, please realize that we all need a good protein source in order to fuel our muscles and keep us strong. This page is very supportive of different diets, and whether you eat paleo, primal, vegan, vegetarian, traditional (like Weston Price) doesn’t really matter as long as you are eating real foods of the best quality, and feeling good and healthy eating the way you have chosen. I’d also llike to point out that it’s very natural for people to follow a particular theory for a few years – let’s pick on the vegan diet here for a minute – and suddenly start craving animal products or feeling like you need to change the way you eat. That’s okay, too. At some point, you may feel like you need to change the foods you eat. This is the body’s way of telling you it needs something different. Listen to what your body is telling you; it’s never wrong!
I eat meat; I enjoy eating meat, and I really don’t feel great if I leave the animal protein out of my diet for too long. I can eat a primarily vegetarian diet for a few days, but then I typically start feeling kind of weak and shaky…and REALLY hungry! Even when I include lots of plant proteins, I can’t sustain that way of eating for very long. But, what about all the stuff in the news about how unhealthy meat is, and all of the bad publicity about feed lot meat? Those things really make me rethink whether I want to eat meat, and I can say with certainty if I could only access regular grocery store meat and animal products, I would NOT eat it.
So, when I talk about our healthy pantry, keep in mind that I am not talking about THAT meat. I am talking about locally raised meat that is coming from farms that raise animals without feeding them GMO laden feed – grass fed beef, pastured chickens, pigs raised on natural foods like vegetable scraps. I also recommend wild game if you have a hunter in your family, and wild caught fish from clean waters, fished using sustainable methods. We eat lots of eggs from pastured chickens. These are an excellent source of protein, and are relatively budget-friendly. If you are not a meat eater, or if you eat it rarely, you will need some good plant-based sources of protein like beans, quinoa, kale and other green leafies, and peanut butter. Again, look for organic sources. The list that follows is what I would have in my healthy freezer, but I’m including a few that are full of wonderful nutrients but we don’t eat, in particular, organ meats. However, if you like them, you should definitely eat them because they are so nutrient dense. I know that some people like soy as a protein; however, I really don’t recommend soy because of the effects it can have on your hormones, and because it is one of the most heavily GMO contaminated crops. Avoid processed lunch meats, too, even the stuff that claims to be healthy – low sodium, low fat turkey breast is still processed. Roast a turkey and slice the breast for sandwiches. It will taste so much better, and the nutritional value will be much higher.
- Beef roasts (for the crockpot)
- Beef steaks
- Ground meat (for meatsauce, meatloaf, grilled bugers, etc)
- Various cuts of chicken
- Ground turkey (for homemade turkey breakfast sausage)
- Pork chops and roasts
- Beef bones (for broth)
- Nitrate and nitrite free ham, bacon, keilbasa, etc
- Pastured, organic eggs
- Canned tuna
- Beans (make sure you soak them!0
- Kale and other leafy greens
- Quinoa (a high protein seed)
- Greek yogurt
Again, I cannot stress enough how important it is to find meat from a clean source. Get to know your local farmers. Most of this meat is less expensive than in the grocery store because you have the ability to buy in bulk. Buying a half or quarter cow is usually much more economical than buying a roast from the store over time. With this list, you have enough meat to make tons of main dishes, casseroles, soups and stews, dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Whether you grill, roast, or slow cook, you will find a million different ways to prepare meat and stretch your food dollars by using leftovers in different types of dishes. Use your plant proteins in abundance as well to acheive a well-rounded diet.
If you aren’t a meat-eater, don’t worry, you can substitute healthy plant based proteins, but certainly avoid processed vegetarian freezer products. You can make amazing veggie burgers from scratch that will satisfy any appetite! And, you’ll know exactly what’s in it.
Tomorrow night, we’ll discuss dairy (more controversy, I know). Next week we’ll start looking at ways to eat healthy on a budget. There is nothing more frustrating than wanting to improve your health through diet only to find that you can’t afford the foods on the list. I’ve found some really simple ways around that problem that have made it much easier to fit good, clean food into my budget. Hope you all have a wonderful night!