Bites By Becs - Stuffed Peppers and Protein Bites
Monday, 05 June 2017
Becca shares her protein rich recipes for Chicken Fajita Spiced Stuffed Peppers, and Chocolate and Peanut Butter Bites.
We are delighted to be able to introduce our new student nutrition expert, Becca Sandwith. Over the coming weeks and months, we will be publishing a selection of Becca’s recipes, along with nutritional information and advice on healthy eating, as well as tips on how to balance staying fit with the demands of life as a student.
My name is Becca, I’m 21 years old and have just finished my second year studying nutrition at Oxford Brookes University.
I have a huge passion for anything food and fitness related, and have always been very sporty - having represented my junior and senior schools in gymnastics at national level - as well as a being a competitive swimmer.
My favourite subjects at school were always Food Technology and P.E. I gave up swimming before moving up to senior school to focus on my gymnastics, and then dropped gymnastics following GCSE’s to focus on my studies. During my A Levels I began going to the gym and played netball.
After finishing my A Levels, I deferred my place at Brookes and spent a year in Australia. This was probably the best decision I have ever made, I had the most incredible year, met some truly amazing people and have unforgettable memories. As cliché as it sounds, I believe I did begin to ‘find myself’ here!
It was during my time living in Sydney that I realised my true passion was in nutrition and fitness. I was lucky enough to be able to change my degree from International Hospitality Management to Nutrition. Two years on and I absolutely love my course, I am part of the Oxford Brookes swim team, and you’ll find me in the gym most days of the week!
I have always loved cooking and taking photos of food so at the end of my first year I decided to create an Instagram account to share my recipes and anything food or fitness related! More recently have decided to enrol on a Personal Training course for the summer. I am extremely excited to combine this with my nutrition degree and to expand my knowledge further. I love helping to inspire, motivate and really help people achieve their goals so I am looking forward to being qualified to do this.
I hope you enjoy the recipes and nutritional knowledge I am going to be sharing with you. If you do have any further questions you can find me on Instagram BitesByBecs
What are proteins and why do we need them?
Proteins are chains of amino acids. There are 20 different common amino acids, 8 of which are ‘essential’, meaning the body cannot make them and are therefore needed from the food we consume. The body is able to convert the non-essential amino acids from one to another via transamination.
It is vital to consume a range of protein sources to ensure no amino acids are missed out. Milk and eggs are both known to have a high protein quality as they have an amino acid content closest to the total body protein - however, some sources, such as plant protein, have limited protein quality. Beans, for example, lack the amino acid methionine, while cereals lack lysine. That said, two of these foods can ‘compliment’ each other to make a complete protein with all essential amino acids, such as beans and toast or hummus and pitta bread.
Proteins form the basis of many structures in the body and are essential for all cells. Like carbohydrates and fats, proteins are a macronutrient and are needed in large quantities for us to survive. They are essential for growth, reproduction, repair and development.
Where to find protein
Rich sources of protein include meat and poultry, milk, eggs, fish, cheese, nuts, cereals and beans.
How much do we need?
Protein requirement for adults aged 19 or over is approximately 0.75g protein per kg of body weight per day.
It is recommended that protein intake should not exceed twice this recommended amount as this can have adverse effects on bone structure and kidney function.
Not enough protein, on the other hand, can cause severe problems in all areas of the body, particularly in children who require adequate protein for normal development.
Chicken Fajita Spiced Stuffed Peppers
Below is one of my favourite recipes, packed full of flavour and rich in protein.
- 2-3 portions of wholegrain rice (dry or pre-cooked)
- 5 large bell peppers
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tbsp. coconut oil
- 3 large chicken breasts, cut into 4 inch pieces
- 1 tsp. chilli powder
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 2 tsp. paprika
- 1 tsp. ground black pepper
- Pinch of salt
- 6 large fresh tomatoes, diced
- Juice of half a lime
- 1 400g tin of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 small tin of sweet corn
- Large handful of fresh coriander
- 50g low-fat grated cheddar cheese
- Low-fat sour cream or Greek yoghurt
- Homemade guacamole (Mash together 1 ½ avocado, juice of half a lime, chopped fresh coriander, 6 chopped cherry tomatoes, pinch of salt, black pepper)
- Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
- Prepare the wholegrain rice following the directions listed on the package or you can use one or two pre-cooked pouches.
- Begin preparing the peppers. Slice each pepper in half, through the stalk (top to bottom) and de-seed. Place the 5 peppers on a baking tray and drizzle with a little olive oil. Place in the oven for 8 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large pan heat 1 tbsp. coconut oil over a medium heat. Add crushed garlic and sliced onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the chicken pieces, chilli powder, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly until all is coated in the seasoning. Cook for 4-5 minutes.
- Add chopped tomatoes and cook for another couple of minutes.
- Add lime juice, black beans, sweet corn, cooked rice and chopped coriander. Season with black pepper and a pinch of salt. Mix all thoroughly together and cook until heated through.
- Spoon the chicken fajita mix into the peppers equally (press down to fill the whole pepper) and top with the grated cheese. Cover with foil and cook in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for a further 5 minutes, until the peppers are soft and the cheese has melted.
- Optional - serve with guacamole and sour cream or Geek yoghurt.
Protein supplements are also available; however, should only ever be used to supplement your diet and never as a meal replacement. It is also important to understand that drinking a protein shake is not going to make you ‘bulky’ or gain muscle overnight. To put it into perspective, I always say that drinking a protein shake is just like eating a chicken breast!
I think of protein powders as a convenient source of protein. Adding a scoop to your smoothies, porridge, shakes, pancakes or homemade energy bars is an easy way to increase the protein content and to help maintain muscle mass. I personally love adding a scoop to my porridge. Similarly, if you are working out mid-morning or mid-afternoon, a protein shake is great for when you won’t be eating a meal straight after your workout.
Many protein powders are packed full of added sugars and artificial substances, so when you’re choosing a product it helps to be aware of these.
Chocolate and Peanut Butter Bites
Below is a recipe to my chocolate and peanut butter protein bites. These are a perfect snack for when you need that mid-morning or mid-afternoon boost!
For 10-12 bites
- 30g rolled oats
- 70g cashew nuts
- 70g almonds
- 1 ½ tbsp. melted coconut oil
- 1 tbsp. crunchy peanut butter (Go for one that is 100% peanuts, with no added sugar)
- 2 tbsp. honey
- 25g chocolate flavoured protein powder
- Desiccated coconut for rolling the protein balls in
- Add dry ingredients to a food processor and mix until well combined.
- Add the remaining ingredients and mix to form a sticky dough consistency. If the mixture looks on the dry side then add a little more peanut butter or melted coconut oil.
- Remove from the food processor and carefully roll into balls, approximately 1 inch thick. Roll the protein balls in desiccated coconut.
- Eat straight away, or store in the refrigerator. These protein balls will last for up to a week.
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