October 20th, 2019

From Our Table: Get proteins from a variety of sources

By Joanne Smith on May 7, 2019.

Submitted Photo/Canadian Beef
This grilled steak and lentil sald provides plenty of proteins thanks to the beef and lentils. Plant-based proteins also provide fibre, are low in fat and low in cost.

So it’s going to be a challenge to follow the last column guest written by my youngest son Benjamin while I was struggling with a cold. Thank you so much to everyone who commented on how much they enjoyed it. And no I did not write the headline; my editor actually picked that one. And just for the record I love all four of my boys very much. They are each amazingly talented in their own unique way. I have loved every stage of raising them. Now seeing who they are becoming as independent adults in this very big world is absolutely fascinating. I started writing this column in 1998, the year Benjamin was born. Thank you for sharing their journey with me.

I’ve been asked a few times what I think about the new Canada’s Food Guide. As a nutrition educator I admit I do find the change from the four food groups to a more generalized perspective a bit of a challenge. I also hear people’s questions about the new focus on plant-based proteins.

Plant-based protein such as dried peas, beans and lentils are very healthy. They are a good source of protein and fibre and low in fat and are also very low cost. However I also believe that fish is a great source of protein. It is unique in its health benefits because it provides Omega-3 fats that help to raise the good cholesterol in our blood. Chicken is also a great source of protein and without the skin is very low in fat. Pork also provides unique benefits and flavour. Red meat is a great source of protein as well and is also unique in that it is the best source of heme iron, the type of iron most easily absorbed in our bodies.

So the protein sources, whether plant or animal, all have benefits. I truly believe that variety is the spice of life. Having a wide variety of healthy food provides the 50-plus nutrients we need every day.

Plant-based proteins perhaps are not as common in many diets so the new food guide is a great way to promote their importance. I know for my family when I attempted to make meatless meals they appreciated the plant-based proteins however always requested it be included in a meal that also had meat. I really did try.

The following recipe has the best of both worlds. It includes beef and lentils which are one of my favourite plant-based proteins. They are very easy to cook from dried or readily available canned. High in protein and fibre with no fat and low cost they are a great way to cut costs and add nutrients to almost any recipe but especially to meals that use ground beef. You can cut back on the higher priced red meat and substitute 1 cup cooked lentils for 1 pound of ground beef.

Remember that beef has that rich source of iron easily absorbed by your body.

So combined with lentils this makes a meal pleaser for everyone.

Since spring is here it’s a great time to be outdoors and get the grill going. This recipe will make mouths water throughout the neighbourhood.

Joanne Smith is a registered dietitian.

Grilled Steak and Lentil Salad

(Courtesy of Canadian Beef)

1 tsp each Italian seasoning and course ground pepper

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1 lb beef grilling steak (strip loin or top sirloin) 1 inch thick


1/2 cup minced red onion

1/4 cup each olive oil and chopped fresh basil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp each salt and dried oregano

2 cups assorted grilled veggies (zucchini, bell pepper, asparagus, etc.) cut into chunks

2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1 can lentils, drained and rinsed

1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and coarsely chopped

Salt to taste

Combine pepper, Italian seasoning and garlic powder in a small bowl. Rub mixture over steak and let stand for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile whisk together oil, red onion, garlic, vinegar, basil, salt, and oregano in a large salad bowl. Add grilled vegetables, tomatoes, lentils, and artichoke hearts.

Gently toss together and season to taste.

Grill steak over medium high heat for 4-7 minutes per side for medium doneness (160 F/71 C). Let stand 5 minutes then cut steak into thin slices. Serve with lentil mixture.

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