The first question people ask when they find out I’m vegetarian is “Where do you get your protein?” This is an unfortunate side-effect of the meat industry’s effective campaign that has basically brainwashed people into thinking that the only source of protein is meat. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I get plenty of protein from my diet and iron too. The one nutrient I do find difficult to maintain a healthy dose of is Omega 3’s.
As I’ve previously mentioned, I am not a doctor, a dietitian nor a scientist. I don’t fully understand Omega 3’s beyond some very basic facts I’m going to share with you (If you’d like to read more about Omega 3’s go here or just google them.)
Basically Omega 3’s (and Omega 6’s) are essential fats the body can’t produce itself and therefore must be obtained from foods. The 3 main types of Omega 3’s are:
- ALA found mostly in vegetarian sources: flaxseeds and their oil, walnuts, soy, canola oil, hempseed oil, camelina oil, and chia seed oil.
- EPA found mostly in fatty fish, in small amounts in eggs, and in very small amounts in seaweed. The human body can produce EPA out of ALA and out of DHA.
- DHA also found mostly in fatty fish, in small amounts in eggs, and in very small amounts in seaweed. The body can convert EPA into DHA.
According to what I’ve read, ALA’s have been studied the least of the 3 types, and because of the metabolic conversions, only about 7-15% of ALA consumed gets converted to EPA, much less than that gets converted to DHA. EPA’s have been proven to reduce blood clotting, inflammation, blood pressure, and cholesterol, and DHA’s are a major component of the gray matter of the brain. Symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings or depression, and poor circulation. For these reasons, it’s important that vegetarians be mindful of their Omega 3 consumption.
My doctor recommended I increase my Omega 3 intake after my good cholesterol levels were too low. I created this recipe to try to help myself and my SO, who does not like to eat fish, get more Omega 3 in our diets (even omnivores can be deficient.) These bars are great for breakfast or for snacking. They taste nutty and flavorful with a spongy cake-like texture. They’re very filling. Each bar (per serving of 18 servings) contains more protein than your average store-bought “protein” bar without all the chemicals with names you can’t pronounce and 20.2 g of Omega 3. Please consult with your doctor if you have any questions about the right dose of Omega 3 for you.
18 – 24 servings
2 1/2 C Rolled Oats
1/2 C Ground flax meal
1/2 C Whole wheat flour (or white whole wheat flour)
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp Baking soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 C (or 4 TB) Brown sugar
1/3 C Honey (or agave)
2/3 C Natural peanut butter (or almond butter)
2 Ripe bananas
5 Egg whites
2 Whole eggs
2 tsp Vanilla extract
2 Tb Coconut Oil
1 C Unsalted walnuts chopped
1 C Roasted, unsalted almonds chopped
1 C Dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, apricot, pears, etc.) For this recipe, I used cranberries and raisins.
1/2 C Roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) chopped
1/4 C Flax seeds (optional)
Preheat oven to 325°. Whisk flour, flax meal, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. Beat bananas, sugar, honey and peanut butter in a large bowl using an electric mixer until blended. Add eggs, vanilla and coconut oil to peanut butter mixture. Add flour mixture with a rubber spatula until combined. Mix in nuts, seeds and dried fruit. Mix in rolled oats. Line 9″x 13″ glass baking dish with parchment paper. Scoop out mixture into dish and spread into an even layer. Bake ~ 25 minutes, turn in oven once and bake an additional 10 minutes. Should be lightly browned (use a toothpick to determine done-ness. Toothpick should be clean when removed, if not put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes) Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for a few minutes, before pulling out and letting cool completely on a rack. Then cut into squares. Enjoy all the yummy wholesome goodness!
Nutrition facts per serving (18 servings)
Fat: 17.1 g
Cholesterol: 20.6 mg
Potassium: 186 mg
Carbs: 34.6 g
Fiber: 5.8 g
Sugars: 16.4 g
Protein: 10.4 g
Vitamin A: 1%
Vitamin C: 2%