The surprising sources and power of protein

  • March 15, 2022

Including protein in our daily diet is important for so many reasons but we wanted to get to the nitty gritty of what makes protein extra special. We spoke to our good friend and registered dietician Renee Jennings over at Nurture The Seed all about the power behind protein and the easy ways to introduce more into your diet each and every day.

  • Q: When most of us think of ‘protein’, we automatically think of red meat. What are some of the other types of protein our readers might be surprised to discover?

    “Protein is surprisingly found in many foods. Yes, of course, animal products are all high in protein (meat/seafood/poultry/dairy). But so are many plant foods, such as legumes (lentils, beans, soy, chickpeas), nuts, seeds and whole grains. Legumes are a personal favourite of mine – they are versatile and provide a generous dose of fibre as well.”

  • Q: What makes protein so important?

    “Often called ‘the building blocks of life’, proteins are essential for every cell in your body. They are required for the growth and maintenance of body tissue (including muscles), as well as many enzymes, hormones and antibodies. Some proteins are involved in the transportation of molecules, for example, haemoglobin is a protein that transports oxygen throughout the body. 

    Adequate intake of protein is particularly important during periods of rapid growth, such as childhood, pregnancy and breastfeeding. I am particularly passionate about nutrition for these stages of life.”

  • Q: Can you get too much protein?

    “Too much of a good thing can be detrimental to our health. Protein needs differ hugely between individuals, depending on factors such as age, gender, weight, physical activity, injuries etc. Excessive protein intake over a long period may impair kidney function and displace other nutrients in the diet (for example fibre). However, if you eat protein as part of a balanced wholefoods diet, it is unlikely that you will eat too much.”

  • Q: What about adding protein to shakes or smoothies? Is that a safe way to increase your protein intake?

    “Many people add protein powders to smoothies. There is nothing wrong with this in moderation, depending on your lifestyle. However, you can also use ‘real food’ to increase your protein intake. For example, by adding hemp seeds to your smoothie, toasted nuts on your salad, choosing hummus as a dip, serving curry with quinoa, or having eggs in your sandwich.”

  • Q: If you’re looking for a quick protein fix at dinner – what’s your go to recipe?

    “My simple go to meal is frittata (for many reasons). Eggs are a wonderful food, not only high in protein, but they are a rich source of choline and vitamin D – two nutrients that are difficult to find in other foods. Frittata is also the perfect ‘waste not’ meal, as you can add just about anything to it! Roast veggies, leftover meat, whole grains, a tin of chickpeas…you name it, frittata can take it!”

  • Follow Renee on Instagram (@nurturetheseed) or head to for a range of simple weeknight dinners that are high in protein but don’t always contain meat.

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