Current thinking is that protein in excess of the Recommended Dietary Allowance is a bad idea, so the staff of the Center for Science in the Public Interest has tried to design seven days' worth of menus that would stay at RDA protein levels and include milk, meat and fish.
Vegetarians will feel vindicated at hearing that this was extremely hard, "because the adult USRDA for protein works out to be only about 7 to 10 percent of daily calories, and animal foods are typically packed with protein," according to the CSPI report in the March issue of "Nutrition Action."
Also, "even starchy staples such as bread and spaghetti get about 12 percent of their calories from protein." The article notes though that plant protein does have far less potential for harm than animal protein.
CSPI recommends eating at least one meal a day with little or no animal protein. It urges us to learn new ways to prepare grains, legumes, pasta and vegetables, and to use meat and poultry only as condiments. For snacks, it suggests high-carbohydrate, low-protein foods like fruit, fresh and dried, raw vegetables, whole-wheat crackers and popcorn. Snacks like these, in fact: SUMMER FRUIT MOLD (4 servings)
2 1/2 tablespoons agar flakes (available in health food stores)
2 cups white grape juice
2 tablespoons lime juice (1 lime)
1 cup fresh raspberries or blackberries
1 cup sliced fresh peaches
Dissolve agar in grape juice and add lime juice. Let set a few minutes, stir, and heat to just shy of boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour into four warm wine glasses and allow to cool for just 25 minutes. Gently stir in berries and peaches, and refrigerate until ready to serve (about 30 minutes). Decorate with a sprig of mint and a few berries.
GALE'S GRANOLA BARS (Makes a dozen 3-by-3 1/4-inch squares)
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter or oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup chopped raisins
1 1/2 cups grated apple
Finely grated peel of 1 orange
2 to 4 tablespoons water
Combine flour, oats, and salt. Melt butter and honey together, and combine with dry ingredients. Stir in nuts, raisins, apple and orange peel, then add enough water to make it hold together -- about 1/4 cup.
Press mixture into a 9-by-13-inch pan and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until it's just beginning to brown lightly. Cut into squares while still warm.