Eating a diet rich in the nutrients your body needs to stay strong and healthy becomes even more important as we age.
One of the key nutrients we need to be aware of is protein. Protein-rich foods are a vital part of a balanced diet and, when paired with strengthening exercises, can help keep our muscles strong.
Thankfully, creating a variety of quick, simple and delicious protein-rich meals is easy because of the wide variety of protein sources available.
Red meat such as beef and lamb, dairy foods, chicken, fish, eggs, legumes, and nuts are all protein-rich foods that can be used to whip up simple, tasty meals throughout the day. For instance, try a leftover roast meat and salad sandwich or tuna salad for a light meal and yoghurt or a handful of nuts for a snack.
Accredited practising dietitian Margaret Hays recommends eating two protein-rich meals a day to ensure you get enough of the muscle-building nutrient while also fuelling your body with other important nutrients.
“Each protein food has its own nutritional make up,” Hays says. “Getting a variety of protein-rich foods in the diet ensures you receive the full range of essential nutrients. Protein-rich dairy, for example, is also an excellent source of calcium, which is important for bone health and red meat is an important source of iron, zinc, omega-3 and vitamin B12.”
Eating protein-rich meals doesn’t mean you must spend hours thinking of extravagant meals, though.
Hays suggests five ways to make a variety of quick and easy meals with lean beef mince by using different herbs, spices and vegetables to create different flavours.
Five ways to master mince
1. Baked Potato with savoury mince and peas
Cut up carrots and mushrooms and add to your favourite minced meat. Serve with peas and a dollop of sour cream. For something a little different, put the savoury mince into halved capsicums and bake with grated cheese on top. This is also a quick and easy breakfast option and a great way to use leftovers to create a second protein-rich meal.
2. Spaghetti Bolognese with a twist
Who doesn’t love this good old favourite? Everyone has their special recipe. Any leftovers can be frozen for future use and turned into cottage pie or lasagna for a whole new dish.
3. Chilli con carne with extra fibre
Brown mince and add canned kidney beans, three-bean mix or lentils. Flavour with chilli, cumin and coriander and serve with rice and salad. If you cook in a large batch, freeze leftovers and use for meals when you are too busy or tired to cook lunch or dinner.
4. San choy bow: Mince with Asian spices served in crunchy lettuce cups
San choy bow is a light, refreshing meal made with crunchy lettuce leaves. Spice up your mince with chilli and ginger, or experiment by adding basil and mint. Different Asian sauces, such as fish sauce or oyster sauce, can be used to add a variety of flavours. Fill the lettuce cups with the mince and add bean shoots and grated carrots.
5. Rissoles made exotic
Make rissoles interesting by using different types of minced meats and add dried fruit, nuts and herbs. Try beef mince with pine nuts and parsley, or chicken mince with chopped, dried apricots and almonds. Serve with pita bread, salad and yoghurt and save any leftovers for lunch the next day.
How often do you eat protein-rich food? What’s your favourite mince recipe?