By Mary Johnson
Eating well on a budget doesn’t mean giving up good food. You can cut your meat costs while boosting nutrition by using these protein-packed foods.
Buckwheat: A must-try food for diabetics, and anyone trying to lose weight. Packed with nutrients, including protein, buckwheat may help with blood sugar control, and protect against heart disease. Diets containing buckwheat have been linked to lowered risk of high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It can be used as an alternative for porridge or rice and will leave you feeling full, and satisfied. Cost per 1 cup serving: 50¢.
Eggs: A good source of low-cost high quality protein, one egg supplies 13% of your daily protein at only 68 calories. The choline found in eggs boosts brain health, helps reduce inflammation, and protects eyesight. Eggs are high in cholesterol, but many nutrition experts now say that most people can eat one egg a day without altering their cholesterol levels. Cost per 1-egg serving: 16¢, $1.94/doz.
Quinoa: One of the best whole grains you can eat with the highest complete protein content—8 grams in one cup cooked. This ancient grain from South America is a good source of iron, and it contains nutrients that help with cardio- vascular health, and has been found to be protective against breast cancer, asthma and gall- stones. Cost per 1-cup serving: 76¢.
Non-fat Greek yogurt: Research is linking yogurt to a stronger immune system, helping to fight osteoporosis, and reducing fat. In addition, the nutrients in yogurt have been shown to help prevent and heal arthritis, protect against ulcers, and reduce risk of colorectal cancers. Greek yogurt is strained, so it’s thicker and creamier than standard yogurt with twice the protein as regular yogurt—about 17 grams in 6 ounces. Cost per 6-ounce serving: less than 96¢.
Beans: One cup supplies 30% of the daily-recommended allowance of protein. The fiber in beans helps keep blood sugar levels steady and cravings down, helping to lower calorie consumption. The fiber in beans helps protect your heart and lower cholesterol. Learning the secret to cooking dry beans properly prevents most digestive complaints. To start, wash beans by pouring them into a deep dish of cold water and then lifting them out, leaving dirt and debris behind. Cover with cold water and “quick soak” by gently boiling ten full minutes rather than the usual two minutes recommended on the package. Pour off that liquid. It often contains the toxins that cause digestive problems. This is especially true for black or dark red beans. Pour in a fresh batch of cold water and gently boil for another 2 minutes and turn off heat. Allow to soak for at least 2 hours. Pour off soaking liquid and bring beans to a gentle boil in enough cold water to cover by about two inches. Reduce to simmer until right consistency. Start checking them in about 25 minutes. Taste at least four—they fool you and may need another 10 to 25 minutes. Cost per 1-cup serving: 25¢.