Guide to Healthy Protein Sources

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Guide to healthy protein sources
Wellness Mama » Blog » Health » Guide to Healthy Protein Sources

Second to fat, protein is one of the most misunderstood and sometimes vilified sources of nourishment. Protein can be obtained from a large variety of foods, but many disagree as to the healthiest sources of protein and how much we really need. Some prefer to get their daily allowance from meat, others from soy, others from dairy… and the list goes on. (Some even prefer to get protein from a powdered concoction of dried whey and chemicals… but I digress…)

All of these conflicting (and sometimes counterintuitive) perspectives can make choosing healthy sources of protein difficult. In this post, I’ll go over which foods are a healthy protein source and how much we should include in our diets.

Warning: As with most things in health, it’s not a one-size-fits-all answer…

What Is Protein?

Proteins, on a strictly molecular level, are made up of amino acids in a linear chain. The sequence of amino acids in a protein molecule is defined by the sequence of the gene for that protein.

While many plants and microorganisms can create all 20 proteins “in-house,” animals (including us) must get some of them from diet. The proteins we can’t create ourselves and must get from diet are called essential amino acids. We obtain these amino acids from different types of proteins in our diet.

There are 20 standard amino acids specified by the genetic code (as Dr. Ben Lynch explains in this podcast). Proteins are absolutely essential to every cell function within our bodies, many as enzymes that are catalysts for metabolic reactions.

Why Is It Important?

Through digestion, proteins are broken down for use in all parts of the body. Protein can be broken down into glucose if the body is in need of it, but it is the least preferable source of fuel for energy as it is difficult to convert (unlike carbohydrates). This is also the reason that, contrary to popular thought, we don’t need to eat constantly to “keep our metabolism burning.” The body naturally uses other forms of fuel first, breaking down muscle last.

That being said, a long-term, low-fat, restricted-calorie diet will lead to muscle burning.

The human body needs a diet that contains adequate amounts of proteins from the right sources (we will get to this in a minute). This is the reason a vegetarian diet can (but not always) cause problems within the body. (Vegetarian diets, in general, also tend to be higher in carbohydrates and lower in fats, and both of these factors contribute to the potential problems with a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle).

Adequate protein is absolutely vital, especially in growing children, as the body uses it for:

  • immune function and support
  • the building of cell membranes
  • cell and tissue creation and repair
  • transporting oxygen and nutrients throughout the body
  • producing hormones and enzymes

Clearly, protein is an important part of the diet, but not all proteins or sources of protein are equal.

Complete vs. Incomplete Protein

There are two categories of protein sources. Complete proteins are high-quality proteins that contain the essential amino acids we need for basic body function. These proteins are more easily absorbed by the body and are found in meats, eggs, fish, poultry, and dairy.

Incomplete proteins are a lower quality protein that do not contain all the necessary amino acids. These are found in grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.

If you’ve been around my blog much, you know I personally don’t consume many grains or high carbohydrate foods. My stance on this has softened over the years as research increasingly shows health (and the ideal diet) is highly individual according to our genetics. Instead, I opt plenty of vegetables with seafood, grass-fed meats, vegetables, and the other healthy protein sources below.

Is Meat the Best Source of Protein?

Without diving into all of the controversy, I will say: not all meat is healthy or a great choice for protein. The old saying “You are what you eat” rings true here. The confounding factor is that your dietary protein (meat) is what it eats, also. Besides the extra body fat caused by these grain foods, these poor animals get really large doses of toxins to store in this fat from all the pesticides, herbicides and antibiotics used on these grains. It’s just one reason why regenerative agriculture is so important.

If grains are bad for us (and I suspect many modern ones are), it isn’t the best idea to eat a bunch of animals that have been fattened up on genetically modified corn or soybeans in an attempt to get health (according to Dr. Zach Bush in this podcast and other experts I’ve interviewed).

Let’s look at beef for an example. Cows were meant to eat grass (they are ruminants). When cows do eat grass, they function largely without disease and when slaughtered, have over five times the nutrients of grain-fed cows. The problem is that cows who eat grass don’t gain weight and don’t sell for as much. In the name of fast profit, we have converted entire species of animals to diets they were not meant to eat.

Grass-fed and free-range meats can often be found at farmers markets or through local farmers. (Just be sure to check that they are truly eating only grass and truly have room to run.) Some farmers offer cow-sharing or cow-pooling, which allows you to purchase 1/4 or 1/2 of a cow when it is live and then receive the meat after it has been butchered. Similar arrangements often exist for chickens.

I personally buy our meat from local farmers through cow-sharing, but there are also online options for those who don’t happen to live down the street from a grass-fed beef ranch. If buying at stores that carry these options, look for labels like “organic,” “exclusively grass-fed,” and “free-range pastured.” Beware of labels like “all-natural,” “hormone and antibiotic-free,” and simply “free-range,” which carry no real weight and are not monitored.

Healthy High-Protein Food Sources

It’s not always easy to know which proteins are good for the body and which ones aren’t. So, I’ve compiled a list of the best protein sources so you’ll know what to look for. To find healthy sources of protein, you will have to get a little creative, but it is possible!

Grass-Fed Beef

Beef is an excellent source of many nutrients including:

  • Vitamin B12 – Vitamin B12 is important for red blood cell formation and healthy brain function.
  • Vitamin B3 – This vitamin is important for a wide range of processes in the body from the skin to the nervous system.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – These essential fatty acids are important for balancing inflammation in the body and supporting heart health.
  • Vitamin B6 – One important function of vitamin B6 is in helping the body produce melatonin. Melatonin is crucial for healthy sleep and circadian rhythm.
  • Selenium – This nutrient plays a part in many functions in the body including reproduction, thyroid function, DNA production, and immune function.
  • Iron – Iron is another essential nutrient that helps make red blood cells that carry oxygen through the body. There are a few different kinds of iron, but animal sources contain the most bioavailable kind, heme.
  • Zinc – This mineral is important for the immune system. It helps the body fight infections and heal wounds. It’s also important for optimal growth.
  • Phosphorus – This nutrient works with calcium to build bones and plays a part in energy production. Phosphorus also plays a structural role in cell membranes.
  • Choline – This nutrient is needed to produce acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter for brain and nervous system functions including memory, mood, and nerve impulse transmission.
  • Pantothenic acid (B5) – This vitamin is incredibly important. It helps build red blood cells, and like other B vitamins, helps convert food into energy.
  • Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)This fatty acid is important for a healthy immune system and metabolism.

While conventional beef may have the same nutrients, grass-fed beef is much higher quality and includes higher quantities of many nutrients including omega-3 fats and CLA. Many studies have been done and support the health benefits of grass-fed beef over conventional. For example, a reputable 2010 study covering 3 decades of research that found grass-fed beef has a healthier lipid profile, higher CLA, and has a better omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.

If you don’t prefer to eat meat, but still appreciate the benefits of meat, consider using Equip Prime protein powder (made with beef protein) and it comes in a wide variety of flavors (and even an unflavored).

Organ Meats

Organ meat isn’t most people’s first choice for dinner, but maybe it should be! This unpopular protein doesn’t deserve its bad rap as it is incredibly healthy and nutrient dense. In traditional cultures organ meat was the most desired meat and muscle meat was often fed to the dogs.

Liver, for example, contains:

  • Vitamin A – Vitamin A plays an important role in healthy vision, and healthy heart and kidney function. It’s also important for immune support and reproductive health.
  • Riboflavin (B2) -Riboflavin helps synthesize food into energy and is important for cellular development and function.
  • Folate (B9) – Folate is an important nutrient for pregnant women (it helps avoid birth defects) and is an important part of rapid cell division and growth and the formation of DNA. Unfortunately, many of us get a lot of folic acid, the synthetic version of folate, which is not as well absorbed and can be problematic.
  • Copper – Copper plays a part in regulating energy production, iron absorption, and brain function. It’s also important for healthy bones, blood vessels, nerves, and immune function.

Other organ meats are similarly high in nutrients. For example, beef heart contains many of these same nutrients plus lycopene. Organ meat is relatively inexpensive, so if you couldn’t buy all high quality organic meat, organ meat would be the best one to choose to buy organic and pastured. I don’t have a local farm that is a good choice, so I get mine from Wellness Meats or ButcherBox.

Free-Range Pastured Chickens and Eggs

Research published in 2012 shows that pastured poultry (not cage-free or other labels that don’t mean anything) are healthier and produce healthier meat.

Chicken contains many necessary nutrients including vitamin B3, selenium, vitamin B6, phosphorus, choline, vitamin B5, and vitamin B12>

Eggs are a budget-friendly and healthy source of protein, if you tolerate them. Choose eggs from free-range or pastured chickens as they contain more vitamin D, an essential vitamin important for bone growth, immune function, and inflammation regulation. A 2010 study found that eggs from pastured hens were higher in omega-3 fatty acids as well as some other nutrients.

Wild Game

Meat from wild game like deer, elk, turkey, etc. is a healthy source of protein. Wild game will contain many of the same nutrients as farm-raised beef and chicken, but may also include other nutrients. This is because, in theory, wild game has access to a wide variety of their natural diet. With wild game you don’t have to worry about what it is fed because it feeds itself (its natural diet)!

Healthy Seafood

Sadly, our manipulation of the food chain doesn’t stop with cows and chickens. We are now commercially farming fish like salmon and also catfish, which are almost completely raised in farms.

The same rule applies here–we are feeding animals foods they were not meant to eat, and their health suffers because of it. These fish suffer from disease and have much fewer nutrients than wild-caught varieties.

Wild-caught fish and other seafood, on the other hand, have a much higher nutrient/trace mineral profile and are much healthier for human consumption. Look for labels like “wild-caught” on fish. Avoid fish that doesn’t specifically say it is wild-caught, and avoid farm-raised. Wild-caught sources are more likely to be eating their natural diet.

Other healthy seafood tips:

  • Opt for oily fish like salmon or sardines, which are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. They are also a good source of calcium and magnesium.
  • Shrimp is also a unique source of the carotenoid astaxanthin, an antioxidant linked to improved blood flow and lower oxidative stress.
  • Don’t forget lobster! It contains contain selenium, vitamin B12, phosphorus, copper, and iodine.

For more tips on selecting seafood, see this post. I have several local sources for fresh seafood, but also order some frozen seafood from this company and stock the pantry with Thrive Market sardines or tuna (a real budget saver… more on this next).

Canned Fish/Sardines

If you have to opt for conventional fish, go for cans of wild-caught chunk-light (not albacore) tuna or sardines (in water, not vegetable or soybean oil!). While this may seem weird, these fish contain the smallest amounts of mercury because they are low on the food chain. Canned salmon is also a decent choice as it’s usually wild-caught (always double check the label though!). I love the Thrive Market brand.

Nuts/Seeds/Dairy

Foods like raw nuts or seeds (note: peanuts are not nuts) and organic high-fat unsweetened plain yogurt also contain adequate amounts of proteins and are acceptable options (though in lesser amounts). Here’s what to look for:

These are incomplete proteins, so you won’t get the same nutrient-bang for your buck, but they do contain some good protein and are a good way to mix-it-up once in a while.

Proteins to Avoid

There are many sources of quality protein, but there are also some that are not healthy and should be avoided if possible:

  • conventionally raised beef and organ meats
  • conventionally raised chickens and eggs
  • farmed seafood
  • sweetened or processed dairy sources
  • nuts cooked in hydrogenated vegetable oils (most of them!)
  • beans and legumes (unless you tolerate them well)
  • fermented soy (read more about I choose not to eat most soy products here)

It may not always be possible to eat 100% organic, pastured, or grass-fed protein, but it’s still good to know which ones are best avoided if possible.

How Much Protein Do We Need?

According to the official Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) recommendation, we should eat at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. I used their online calculator (which takes into account things like gender, pregnancy, weight and height, and activity level) and found that my RDA recommend amount of protein is about 60 grams per day. (For reference, a 3 ounce piece of chicken breast has about 26 grams of protein, so 6 ounces would bring me to my full requirement for the day!)

While my body may be able to function on 60 grams of protein a day, many sources suggest we actually need more protein. Let’s look at some of the opinions:

  • A 2015 document published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recommends at least twice the RDA amount of protein, based on the conclusions of more than 60 health and nutrition experts in an international summit. (This is echoed by Harvard Medical School, although they warn against overconsumption of red meat, a point I agree with if not grass-fed.)
  • This blog post from RobWolf.com weighs the evidence for consuming around 100 grams of protein per day, on average.
  • Chris Masterjohn, a PhD in Nutritional Sciences, aims for 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, as a man with the goal of building lean muscle.

What I take from this as a general rule is that most adults need upwards of 50 grams (many need closer to 100 grams) of protein a day. Pregnant women and many men need to consume the higher range of this scale.

This protein can come from beef, chicken, organ meats, wild game, eggs, nuts, seeds, yogurt, and other healthy sources, and even 100 grams really isn’t much when you cut the processed foods and carbs. Check out my food page for some recipe ideas!

Bottom Line

Conventional wisdom tells us that all protein is created equal. But in reality there are some sources that are better than others (sometimes by a lot). Choosing protein sources that come from healthy animals first is always the best way to get good quality protein that will nourish the body.

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Scott Soerries, MD, Family Physician and Medical Director of SteadyMD. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

What is your daily protein intake? What is your favorite source? Tell me about it below!

Sources
  1. A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2846864/
  2. Research shows eggs from pastured chickens may be more nutritious. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psu.edu/news/agricultural-sciences/story/research-shows-eggs-pastured-chickens-may-be-more-nutritious/
  3. The grass is greener: Farmers experiences with pastured poultry. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/236974606_The_grass_is_greener_Farmers_experiences_with_pastured_poultry
  4. MacLachlan D. J., Bhula R. (2008) Estimating the residue transfer of pesticides in animal feedstuffs to livestock tissues, milk and eggs: a review. Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 48, 589-598. https://doi.org/10.1071/EA07196
  5. S. M. Waliszewski, S. Gomez-Arroyo, R. M. Infanzon, O. Carvajal, R. Villalobos-Pietrini, P. Trujillo & M. Maxwell (2004) Persistent organochlorine pesticide levels in bovine fat from Mexico, Food Additives & Contaminants, 21:8, 774-780, DOI: 10.1080/02652030410001712736
  6. Nancy R Rodriguez, Introduction to Protein Summit 2.0: continued exploration of the impact of high-quality protein on optimal health, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 101, Issue 6, June 2015, Pages 1317S–1319S, https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.114.083980
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.

Comments

89 responses to “Guide to Healthy Protein Sources”

  1. Amanda Avatar
    Amanda

    I LOVE your blog so much and it has definitely helped shape my families new eating habits! I am very interested though in why you places fermented soy in your bad protein category though, as the fermented portion of this should make the soy a good product, like tempah, right?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      Yes, if they are truly fermented correctly then they are ok in moderation… the problem is that most places sell a version that hasn’t been properly prepared…

  2. Brett Avatar

    Great article! I think that more people should learn about how foodstuffs affect our well being. Unfortunately, as the population of the world increases, and useable land decreases we are forced to alter feeding methods of livestock. I predict that within 80 years, organic foods will be unattainable, or at the very least unaffordable to the general public. Obviously the priority is to keep us all fed…….too bad that it can affect our health so much!

  3. Sarah Avatar

    I’ve been reading through your “start here” articles – thank you! I have been working towards improving our family eating habits for a few years. Currently, however, we are in a unique situation: we are living overseas and have very little access to what I would normally want to see us eating. My question is this: all our meat sources are grain fed and I don’t know about the hormones/antibiotics (although I would assume they are there since they tend to be in most meats). Beans are hard to come by (and from your articles are a bad source of protein anyway). Given the lack of availability, what’s the worst of the evils? Better to go vegetarian, rely on beans and skip meat or better to eat meat that isn’t ideal? Would love your insights and opinion! Thanks in advance.

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      I’d personally eat the best meat you can find and balance it out with a lot of veggies and healthy fats if you can get them…. Good luck!

  4. Rebekah Avatar

    Hello, I’ve really enjoyed your site and have adopted many of your ideas! However, as a successful low carb dieter, I’m a little defensive when you make the sweeping statement : “Others (like Atkins) say that meat, meat, and only meat are the only acceptable sources of protein and that all carbs were created bad”. This is an unfair statement and grossly misrepresents Dr. Atkins’ theory and his diet plan. If you have read his book, you would understand that even in the first phase of the diet, dieters are encouraged to eat 20 carbs a day, and it is emphasized how important it is to get those carbs from green vegetables, which also happen to be the most protein rich. As you continue through the phases, you gradually adds fruits, nuts, more vegetables, lentils, and even grains as long as you can do so without gaining weight. People often confuse “the atkins lifestyle” with the first phase of the diet, when in reality, it’s a lifestyle much like your own. Atkins was a pioneer in getting away from the “American food pyramid” and should be a resource for the wellness lifestyle, not a target.

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      I agree… I should have clarified that I was referencing many people’s interpretation of the atkins diet…

  5. Zepko Avatar

    Thank you so much for this information. I have recently decided to work towards eating a cleaner diet and getting the chemicals out of our house. I have been doing a lot of research over the past couple of weeks. During my research I came across a homesteading farmers market group. I was so excited. My husband and I went there first thing this Morning. However, I left feeling so defeated. There were two different vendors there selling “grassfed” beef. When I asked them if it was 100% grassfed they both gave me the runaround and tried to steer me away from buying 100% grassfed. I was so mad! Here we were so excited to find this group and sure enough it was not what I was expecting. Well, I am on another search to find 100% grassfed. I was hoping to avoid buying off the internet but I think that I am going to have to.

    I really enjoy your blog and you are teaching me so much. Thank you for taking the time to do it.

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      You are so welcome and good for you for holding out for the best! Good luck finding it in your area!

  6. Alana Avatar

    Hi there, I’m just beginning to research this sort of lifestyle  and I think you’re definitely making the right choices! I was raised with loads of protein and garden-fresh veggies in my diet, along with healthy fats (we’re a butter-loving family) and I think it’s been really beneficial to my health and my development… In recent years, we haven’t been eating so healthfully (the meals are still balanced, it’s mostly the constant snacking on carbs that worries me) and I’d like to make some changes. My only question is whether it’s truly that bad to eat store-bought meat? I don’t want to demand that my parents buy grass-fed, it’s not really a viable option until I’m off on my own, so I’d have to make it work as such. I honestly think that just cutting out the excessive amount of carbs in my diet would help for now until I’m adjusted enough to make some more changes.

  7. Degan Avatar

    Why not albacore tuna? Sorry if someone already asked but I didn’t notice. I have always been told always albacore not other tunas! Help?!?!

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      The most recent info I’ve seen showed higher mercury levels in the albacore than the chunk.

  8. Aura Avatar

    I can get grass-fed beef where I live, but it’s frozen. Anything wrong with frozen meat, nutrition-wise?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      Nope… frozen grassfed is still much better than conventional fresh.

    2. MJ Avatar

      I’m able to get grassfed meats at (or through) a local farmer’s market – and it is always frozen for safety. I can’t think there’s a significant difference, as I’m guessing grocery stores selling pastured meats receive their stock frozen. What I can’t get locally, I order from one of several reputable sellers online. Again, it arrives frozen.

  9. Samantha Avatar

    Just reading this now. What is your take on non-GMO soy? I eat gluten, dairy and soy free, but I’ve never really tried non-GMO soy. I’m wondering if it would be safer on my system. I’d love to know your thoughts. Thanks!

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      In general, soy has a lot of antinutrients and substances that mimic hormones in the body. As a protein source, it isn’t really that great either, and especially not good enough to outweigh the potential problems it can cause. I typically advise clients to avoid soy and soy products completely, GMO or not…

  10. Aye Avatar

    Please quote a reputable scientific study saying that canned tuna has the least amount of mercury and also that wild caught is not contaminated.

  11. Karina Avatar

    http://shine.yahoo.com/green/how-much-protein-do-you-really-need-2523319.html  This is an article on Yahoo about how much protein we really need. I really commend you for encouraging people to buy organic, and grass fed when possible btw for humanitarian and ecological reasons….but I do feel with re: to meat, many do great on it, others do just as great without it. I know hundreds of vegetarians who lived very healthy lives through their 70’s on mostly vegetarian diet, though many did eat any combination of dairy, fish, beans, eggs. But protein is vital to our cells, and we all need to think about our sources for it, and you are moving people one step in the right direction with re: to eating organic.

  12. Karina Avatar

     A good reminder to soak seeds and nuts overnight, since it reduces phytate levels am I correct? Same with beans, I did some research on this, and studies showed that soaking beans overnight helps dramatically as well as boiling them for up to an hour (cooking) to reduce phytate levels. Thanks for an excellent blog, though I am an organic egg & cheese eating vegetarian (if I can call myself that), I really like all your tips and you are accurate on so many topics. You are fun reading too :).

  13. Dovey Avatar

    I was wondering, if you don’t have access to/can’t afford grass-fed or organic meat, would it be healthier to eat conventional meat or become a vegetarian?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      I’d still say eat the healthiest cuts of conventional meat that you
      can find. It is really difficult to get enough of the right kinds of
      protein as a vegetarian, especially without eating beans.

  14. Sarah Avatar

    Wonderful information here and all through your site! Unfortunately, buying organic and free range meat is all but impossible for many because of the cost. These days it’s hard enough for the average family to buy regular groceries for their family, let alone organic. I appreciate this doesn’t change the fact that organic *is* better, but I wonder how many people end up feeling guilty and dispirited because they simply can’t afford to eat the recommended way. Do you have any realistic suggestions for busy, budget-constrained people who wish to optomise their dietary health?

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      I agree… it is tough for a lot of people (including me!) to buy
      organic sometimes. Depending on where you live, buying in bulk
      directly from an organic farmer who raises beef, pork or chicken can
      be one good option. If not, I encourage people to focus on
      inexpensive but real cuts of meat like whole chickens, briskets,
      roasts, pork loins, etc. These don’t usually have the additives that
      even ground beef has and are often much cheaper. Also, if you have
      access to stores that carry organic or grassfed meats, you can often
      get the organs from the butcher much cheaper. Organs are more
      nutrient dense and aren’t in as high of demand.
      In the long run, I hope no one feels discouraged by not being able to
      buy organic all the time. My thought is to do the best we all can
      within our budgets are realize that even if it isn’t perfect all the
      time, a real food diet, even non-organic is tons better than
      processed foods any day!

      1. Dotty Avatar

        I have a question about pork.  Even if the farmer uses organic practices, it doesn’t seem like pork is a good choice because everything they eat goes straight to the meat, and they eat everything!  I’ve heard you can get trichinosis fairly easily, as well as parasites and other diseases.  I think they also said that the only way to be sure all of that is taken care of is to have it in a freezer that goes below zero for at least 20 days or so.  So I’m leery of it whether it has nitrates or not and even if it’s not feedlot pork, though I’m sure farm-raised is better.

      2. Lindsey Avatar

        I do think it is very easy for us to get discouraged. I know what we should eat and I might try it for a time but run out of money to buy food for our family. I know we all feel better in a low carb high protein good fat diet but we can’t afford it. I try to make the best choices I can but find it very hard to make meals that fill up my kids without some form of gluten free grain added. Any help would be great. I have about $70-80 a week for a family of five plus I am pregnant.

  15. Lauren Hadida Avatar
    Lauren Hadida

    I am new to your sight and really enjoy it! You have great recipes and very helpful information. I need all the help I can get with food planning and cooking.
    Question, I’ve never given my family sardines before and I’d like to start. Can you give me suggestions on how to serve them? On a cracker with cream cheese? not really sure how to make it appetizing.
    Thank you so much!
    Lauren

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      Sardines can be a little tough, but kids usually like them,
      especially younger kids. Cream cheese works great, and I usually add
      some dill. To transition, you can also mash the sardines to break up
      the fish look and mix half and half with tuna when making tuna salad.
      I do this for my husband (who doesn’t like sardines) and he doesn’t
      even notice.

  16. theresa Avatar
    theresa

    how detrimental would it be to one’s health to be (as temporarily as possible) eating conventional beef, chicken, etc, but avoiding carbs, sugar, and soy? i’m in college right now, and required to eat in the cafeteria, and don’t really know where those meats and fish come from…but i don’t know if i could live on just eggs!

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      It would definitely be more beneficial than eating carbs, sugar and
      soy. Try to make sure you are getting a lot of veggies in and you
      should be fine!

      1. Lorraine Avatar
        Lorraine

        So does soaking nuts In water help remove that nasty acid from them. Because I’m going to start making almond nut milk and spreads and they do need soaked over 8 hours period is that just to remove the skin? As the pulp can be used to make flour. So my thoughts are can that be an alternatives to some flour making recipes to enjoy on occasions 😉 thank you 🙂 and thank you for all the information. I’m learning each time I research healthy balance eating. I’m going to cut milk out my diet and harsh sugars too. And when I have my own actually house without permission and garden I’m going to just have ducks running around for eggs and grow grow grow all those edible goodies. I was hoping to grow nuts and seeds but if they are a no no. I hope I can intake the other sources of omega 3 ala from fish instead 😉 and grow only little nut for balanced diet. I also want to ask. I’m aware that sprouted grains nuts seeds also re beat sources for alkaline mains and your page on grains claims them also to be better for lesser nasty acidic and harmfulness in your body. So i take it ground sprouted grains and nuts and seeds aren’t an alternative? I can buy sprouted flour and I can grow sprouted nuts in future for milk and spreads to make it extra better for my health and my future children. See all this boils down to providing me better and then my future children 😉 any thoughts on that ? I can cut out grains. But I’m just curious to how it works ?

        1. Wellness Mama Avatar

          Yes, sprouting and soaking will remove some, although not all, of the phytic acid. It definitely better to use one of those processes if you are going to consume nuts.

          1. Lorraine Avatar
            Lorraine

            Thank you. I’ve learnt a lot since this post. And I’m not going to be consuming nuts if ever. The pure and soaked coursed almond flour may be a treat though with your pancake recipe 😉
            Thank you

    1. Magda Avatar

      They are great protein sources. The lectins that everyone is up in arms about are removed when they are soaked and even more digestible if there are also sprouted. Starch is not bad for you! Legumes and grains are loaded with health benefits.

  17. Arica Avatar

    This is all new to me, but I have enjoyed all the information you have provided. Thank you! I am just starting a gluten-free diet for myself and will try to slowly wean my family. My biggest concern is in buying the organic/grassfed beef and free-range chicken. Just pricing the chicken was a big shock to me! It was three times as much as aldi’s. I also have a good source for the grassfed beef, but it’s $6.00/lb. We are on such a tight budget. I would appreciate any suggestions! Thank you again for all of this great information!!

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      Thanks for reading! Making the switch is the toughest part, but it gets easier. Depending on where you live, you may be able to find a cow-sharing source, where local farmers who raise grassfed cows allow you to purchase part of one while alive, and then they take it to the processor and you pick up from there. Sometimes there are similar situations for chicken. Eggs are also a cheaper protein option and are packed with nutrients. If you can make the switch to grassfed/pastured, serve with a lot of vegetables and healthy fats to make sure everyone gets enough without breaking the bank. If worst comes to worst, remember that even conventional meats with an otherwise healthy diet free from grains, sugars, etc is much healthier that a diet of conventional meats and all those!

  18. Katt Avatar

    I hope you realise that advocating ‘wild caught’ fish, while a lovely idea, is directly responsible for overfishing and the extinction of entire species! The current level of fishing is unsustainable and and increased demand will only hasten the overfishing of very vulnerable & valuable sea life! While good health is important, it should not come at the expense of several species of fish which should be preserved for future generations.

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      I certainly see how this can be a concern, however, there are sustainable ways of eating wild caught fish. The label MCS signifies that the fish caught are from a sustainable source. The overfishing is not the only problem contributing to decline in populations, as fish farms actually put a lot of stress on wild populations also. “Ironically, the hatcheries and farms that popped up to alleviate pressure on wild salmon populations are now endangering them. Research shows that situating fish farms near wild salmon populations can cause declines of more than 50 percent in the wild fish [source: Owen]. Both hatcheries and farms may introduce weaker genes into the wild population’s gene pool through interbreeding, thus lowering salmons’ chances for survival. In addition, the artificial structures are more conducive to parasites and disease, which then infect wild populations. Competition is also a factor.”
      People certainly should make a conscious effort to find fish from healthy and sustainable sources, but merely eating farmed fish will not do much to replenish the population, since these farms put stress on the wild fish’s ecosystem. There are also certain species of fish that are wild caught and not in danger, so there are certainly options. I personally do not think that a declining fish population is ever a good reason to eat farmed fish that has been fed soy feed, however, and it would be better to not eat any fish or to supplement with quality fish oils from sustainable sources. I think there is a middle ground here that benefits our health and supports the fish population, people just need to be aware and pursue this option.
      Thanks for the comment.

      1. Magda Avatar

        Do you realize that for every pound of fish caught, 5 pounds of “bi-kill” are caught as well? This includes other fish, endangered sea turtles, sharks, porpoises and even whales. There is no such thing as sustainable fishing. I find advocating shrimp shocking as tremendous damage is done to the ocean floor with it’s harvesting, devastating the ecosystem in the ocean.
        Regarding all these other “great protein sources” coming from animals, there can be debate until the cows come home about the health aspects being positive or negative(The science I follow shows all those foods cause disease and ill health), but how do we adjust our moral compass to justify eating them(animals) when they are the largest contributor to climate change, and effect our air quality, dying oceans, world hunger, use 29% of our fresh water on the planet while over a billion people are without any-the list goes on. The plant kingdom provides everything we need for vibrant health, with 1/11th the global impact of eating animals. On a small planet with an exploding population-they solution to all these major problems in the world is…on your plate.

        1. Traci Avatar

          Many people have tried your way of eating and it caused them many health problems. If your response to that is they aren’t doing it “right,” then I’m wondering how our ancestors did it without your instructions… What our world needs is for people to learn to trust their own intuition about their own body and let others do the same. Additionally, extreme ways of eating, living, etc., there’s the problem.., We need to realize that ALL life is sacred, not just us, not just animals, all… So what do we eat? Other sacred beings with gratitude. Animals eat animals, some animals just plants…and that’s as nature clearly intended. It isn’t wrong, or are you saying animals are wrong, less than you? It isn’t so… Plus, many of our problems have come about from that (many times re-written) old book, like “be fruitful and multiply” and belief that birth control is a bad thing, when we’re not taking proper care of the people/children we already have. In our continuing to arrogantly keep having children, well, that’s such a slap in the face to Mother Earth, which already has more ppl than this tiny planet can handle. Kind of an indicator that we have too many ppl is that we can’t eat fish without destroying a species. And yet fish is such an important part of healthy eating, as science shows.

          1. Wellness Mama Avatar

            Having children is not arrogant, it’s one of the greatest blessings anyone could have. Yes, we should always do our best to take care of the earth, people are always more important than the earth is, not the other way around.

          2. Magda Avatar

            Fish may have been a part of a healthy diet in the past, but now, they are full of radiation, PCB’s, dioxins and mercury. No longer healthy, no longer sustainable, still cruel.

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