Melting Pot – Perfect Protein

For health-conscious diners it’s all about the protein – and they’re willing to pay a premium for dishes which cater specifically for their dietary choices. A high protein diet usually goes hand-in-hand with low carb content so how should chefs balance the two? Here, seven knowledgable chefs share their tips and ideas on incorporating animal and plant proteins to make delicious and appealing dishes…

Tom Holloway, head chef at the Alexandra Hotel and Restaurant in Lyme Regis, Dorset (www. With a rising trend in health conscious, high protein and low carb diets, it can be difficult to find an interesting balance especially when dining out. The first thing most people think about when you mention high protein is meat. Usually a nice lean cut of venison or maybe beef fillet, which when paired with some of the many plant-based proteins (which themselves are growing in popularity) can provide almost infinite combinations of flavours and textures. Try pairing venison with braised Puy or black lentils, add to that the abundance of leafy greens and brassicas that are all high in protein sautéed with some flaked almonds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

Mark Baumann, Great British Master Chef and co-director of affordable luxury steak and lobster restaurant Bourgee The clean eating trend shows no sign of stopping and as a result, healthier burger and hotdog options are in high demand. Diners still want to indulge but with less guilt. With this trend, it’s all about ditching the bun altogether. At Bourgee our ‘Naked Burger’ which shuns the bun in favour of a side salad has been a huge hit. By placing all the focus on the meat, the dish helps diners to cut down on the carbs without compromising on taste. Some restaurants are even using lettuce or avocados in place of bread to create faux buns that satisfy without the extra calories.

James Davidson, executive chef, Rich Sauces Having a balanced diet is very important so if you are trying a high protein low carb diet or way of life here are a few pointers to help. The recommended dietary allowance of protein for men is 56g and 46g for woman, this can be found in lean red meat (fat removed) eggs, fish, chicken (no skin) soy milk, tofu, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils. Not to rule out Carbs entirely particularly whole grain varieties, they provide nutrients such a vitamin B. To balance your meal fruit and vegetables are low in calorie and fat add texture and colour to your plate.

Alex Connell, principal tutor, the Vegetarian Society Cookery School For veggie and vegan dishes the key to the protein switch is making sure you swap meat for other ingredients which provide important nutrients such as protein and iron. Add beans, nuts, tofu or meat substitutes like soya mince to your everyday, usual recipes for a well-balanced meal. From baked beans to chickpeas, butter beans and kidney beans, these highly nutritious and satisfying foods are a great way to add protein to any recipe. Tofu makes a great addition to a wide range of dishes such as stirfries and curries. Nuts are a great way to add protein to a meal. Try adding cashews to a curry, or throw some flaked almonds into a salad for extra bite. Peanut butter stirred into coconut milk also makes an indulgent and nutritious sauce for a stirfry. There are also meat substitutes – veggie mince, sausages, fillets and burgers which are versatile and convenient.

Lawrence Keogh, executive chef of Old Bengal Warehouse Moderation is the key. Protein and carbs both play a part in helping you shed extra pounds. Choose lean protein like chicken, turkey, fish and low-fat dairy – about the size of a deck of cards – and keep carb servings to the size of your clenched fist. Choose complex carbs, such as wholegrain versions of bread, pasta and rice, and include plenty of veg and fruit in your diet.

Fergus Martin, development chef for Major From Korean bibimbap, Hawaiian poke to ramen inspired dishes, ‘bowl food’ is not only bang on trend in terms of flavour but can be a perfect way to cater for the heath-conscious. Done well, not only is food by the bowlful visually impressive and delicious but can incorporate fish, meat or plant-based proteins and be paired with dietary specific carbs. A Pan-Asian infused salmon with broth and sapphire can be served with low carb, gluten-free rice noodles. A Korean marinated rice and sautéed vegetable bowl (bibimbap) can be topped with eggs or thin slices of beef. Even a poke bowl gone fusion, Oriental marinated tuna or Thai marinated salmon, can work really well with a super protein grain like quinoa, ticking all the boxes for that ultimate healthy protein hit. Korean bibimbap recipe online

Olivia Shuttleworth, brand manager for Prep Premium speciality oils Salmon with lemon-infused spinach salad is the perfect healthy, high-protein and low carb combination. Combine baby spinach leaves with chopped cherry tomatoes, cucumber, avocado and red onion, then drizzle with a little lemon-infused olive oil and balsamic vinegar, before seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Season the salmon with garlic-infused oil, then pan fry skin-side down until the skin is crispy and golden brown. Flip over until cooked through, then serve with the zingy salad on the side, topped with a handful of toasted pine nuts.

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