Jerusalem Artichoke and Goat’s Cheese Gratin

This is what we had for lunch today – totally delicious and lovely textures. This makes a great feature of Jerusalem Artichokes, which are in season now.  Not entirely plant-based proteins, because of the goat’s cheese….

_MG_3253 Jerusalem Artichoke and Goat's Cheese Gratin _MG_3309 Jerusalem Artichoke and Goat's Cheese Gratin

Jerusalem Artichoke and Goat’s Cheese Gratin

for 2 people (but we couldn’t finish it!). 490 kcals, 12.6g protein per serving

  • 450 grams peeled or scrubbed artichokes (keep under water to stop them going brown)
  • 3 small leeks
  • a grating of fresh nutmeg and black pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 40g shelled walnut pieces
  • 2 rounds of fresh young goat’s cheese (called Cabecou here)
  • A couple of sprigs of fresh thyme

Heat oven to 200C.

Slice the artichokes into rounds, about 5mm (1/4″) thick. Cook in boiling lightly salted water for about 3 minutes, until slightly soft. Drain.

Toast the walnuts in a dry frying pan until slightly coloured, then chop finely.

Trim, wash and slice the leeks finely. Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the leeks and spices, stir fry for a minute or two, then add about 100ml of water. Put the lid on and lower the heat to minimum and cook for about 10 minutes until soft and luscious.

Put the leeks in the bottom of an ovenproof dish. If they have dried out, add a couple of tablespoons of water, then layer the artichokes on top. Sprinkle the nuts over and then crumble the goats cheese on top. Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves.

Bake in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes, until the cheese is starting to brown.

Serve with a rocket and orange salad (half an orange), dressed with the squeezed orange juice and a few drops of aged balsamic vinegar.

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We finished our meal with Vanilla Soya Custard with Banana.

Vanila Soya Custard with Banana

Entered in At Home with Mrs M’s Recipe Link PartyMade with Love Mondays hosted by javelin warrior and Simple and in Season which is hosted this month by Caroline at Cake, Crumbs and Cooking

Are we eating too much protein?

Not a subject I usually think about, but in relation to the 5:2 way of eating, I was reading that Prof. Longo recommended to Michael Mosely that we should eat no more than 8g per kg body weight of protein from largely plant-based sources.

So how much protein do we eat, and where does it come from?

Since I’ve been logging everything I eat for the last 2 months (on MyFitnessPal), I now have some data to observe. On our 5:2 Fast Days, even when we have a protein rich breakfast and a protein and veggie dinner, I am well within the guidelines. But on normal days, even though my overall intake is usually no more than 1200 calories (perhaps because I am not having so much carbohydrate and fat), the amount of protein varies from around 40g to 60g or more. The majority of the protein I eat comes from meat, fish, eggs and dairy produce. Legumes (lentils, beans) and nuts also account for some  – and a surprising additional amount is contained in many vegetables and grains.

A little digging soon revealed that it is not just Prog. Longo recommending a lower intake.  The UK recommended daily allowance for women is 46g /day and for men 55g/day. The WHO recommended RDA of protein is just 35 grams a day (and that has an added safety margin included).

Most of us think of protein as healthy, filling, and useful to the body, supporting growth and keeping the immune system strong. So what’s the problem?

I dug out my copy of Patrick Holford’s Optimum Nutrition Bible: He says “Most people are in more danger of eating too much protein than too little. Excess protein is a contributor to osteoporosis, over-acidity and many other common health problems”.

Then on livestrong.com I read the following:

Protein and Kidney Disease

..”high-protein diets may be associated with kidney function decline in women who already have mildly reduced kidney function. On further analysis, the risk was only significant for animal proteins, indicating that the source of protein may be an important factor.” .. The American Diabetes Association suggests that people with diabetes — the number one cause of kidney disease — consume no more than 20 percent of their calories from protein.

 

Protein and Coronary Artery Disease

The American Heart Association, or AHA, notes that high-protein diets de-emphasize high-fiber, plant-based carbohydrates that help your body block the absorption of cholesterol…. It is possible to follow a high-protein diet and not increase your risk of heart disease if your protein comes from plant-based sources such as legumes, soy and nuts…

 

Other Dangers

Other health concerns are associated with a high-protein diet, including an increase in blood pressure and a risk of fractures due to osteoporosis. In addition.. “eating a diet high in protein and sodium but low in fiber” increases your risk of kidney stones. ..

What seems clear to me is that I – and probably most other people –  am unwittingly eating far more than the RDA of protein and that may be contributing to increased and avoidable health risks.

I’ve already started “bulking out” many of our main meals with beans, lentils and vegetables, so now I’m definitely going to be looking at replacing more of our animal protein with plant-based proteins and see how that affects our overall numbers. Intermittent Fasting is at least giving us some days of lower protein intake, but there is more that we can do.

For those who eat a purely vegan or largely vegetarian diet, the issue of balancing amino acids is important, as many plant based proteins are incomplete. I came across this handy looking app that will help you to find the complementary foods to complete the amino acids and create a high quality protein meal.

Fascinating stuff, getting healthy!

Where’s that recipe for nut loaf?