Dear 14-year-old boy's football coach,
Now Coach, let me preface this letter by saying that I have the utmost respect for you, as does the 14-year-old boy. You volunteer untold hours of your time to support these young people and enable them to develop important values such as teamwork, perseverance, sacrifice and responsibility. You take them on 6-hour road trips (each way) and somehow are able to control dozens of energetic, testosterone-driven young men every football weekend. I thank you for that.
Now, on to the nitty-gritty. As all coaches do, you want to encourage the players to be aggressive, which is an important skill in football. When a boy is about to make a tackle in practice, you may even sometimes say things to them that would encourage aggressive behavior, something inflammatory, like "Hey 14-year-old boy, you gonna have tofu for dinner tonight?" Perhaps comments like these do indeed initiate a more aggressive hit, which I'm all for, believe me. I want the team to win just as much as the next mom. These comments don't bother the 14-year-old boy, but he does come home and tell me what you say as humorous anecdotes.
Now, Coach, let's evaluate the health benefits of some of the vegetarian foods the 14-year-old boy eats for dinner, just to make sure he is ingesting enough protein to be an excellent football player for your team.
Did you know that teenage boys only need about 52 grams of protein per day? (HERE'S one of my references.) And adult men only 56? There's only one group of people that need more than that, and that's me, a lactating and/or pregnant mother.
Also, Coach, did you know that recent studies have shown that vegetable protein is easier to digest than animal protein? (One reference HERE.) That means that my 14-year-old boy will process that hummus or bean soup or wheat sprout protein faster than you'll process that 16-ounce porterhouse your beautiful wife puts on the grill for you on Saturday night. (I don't really know that you get a porterhouse every Saturday night, but I know you'd like to, and I also know that your wife is beautiful.) However, the 14-year-old boy will be skipping the saturated fat, but adding untold vitamins and minerals to his diet, vitamins and minerals that are largely deplete in steak. So, in essence, Coach, my 14-year-old boy, after eating his bean soup, will be stronger quicker than you will be after eating your steak.
So, Coach, just so you don't worry about the 14-year-old boy and his tofu, let me share with you an example of where he gets his daily protein requirements...
He starts off the morning with his favorite meal of all time, two PB and J sandwiches and a huge glass of milk. This meal alone contains 38 grams of protein! Yes, he could use more fruit and we're working on that.
Next, he comes home for lunch and may eat something like a bowl of 15-bean soup with some corn chips and a salad. This meal contains about 31 grams of protein, and depending on whether it fills him up or not, he'll make more PB and J sandwiches, which adds even MORE protein to the meal.
At dinner time, we might have quesadillas and refried beans and another salad, which adds another 25 to 30 grams of protein. Or maybe, on a special night, we might make breakfast for dinner, such as the following Quinoa Bean Pumpkin Pancakes, which pack 11 grams of protein per serving, and that's not counting the extra 10 or so grams he'll get from the milk he'll use to wash 'em down.
So, Coach, if you do the math, that's between 80 to 100 grams of protein on an average day, much more than he actually needs.
Yes, Coach, the 14-year-old boy may very well have tofu for dinner, but you can count on him to be strong enough to get some sacks in, thanks to your excellent coaching and his mother's inspired meal preparations. Love ya!
Oh, and P.S., if you want to ask your beautiful wife to make some high-protein vegetarian pancakes for you and your youngsters, have her try this recipe!
4 tsp cider vinegar
3 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup pinto bean flour
2 1/4 cup quinoa flour
2 tsp allspice
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups pumpkin puree
Step 1. Combine vinegar and milk and let sit for ten minutes, until milk is curdled.
Step 2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl.
Step 3. Mix all the wet ingredients in a large bowl, including the milk mixture.
Step 4. Pour the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture and mix well.
Step 5. Butter a skillet and pour on 1/4 cup portions. Cook until browned on each side. Pancakes will be moist in the center.
For Complete nutrition data go HERE.
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