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21 Days for World Hunger – Days 5-6: “Where Does She Get Her Protein??”

21 Days for World Hunger – Days 5-6: “Where Does She Get Her Protein??”

Today is Day 6 of 21 Days for World Hunger. One more day, and I’m 30% of the way through and counting. This post includes data from my nutritional intake for Day 5 as well as some practical information on macronutrients like carbohydrates, fats, and — you guessed it — proteins! At the end, check out the new recipe with Ground Nut Sauce. yum.

Nutritional Intake for Day 5


Looking at the nutritional data for Day 5, you will see I consumed 1087 calories. I ate a cup of rice for breakfast and a banana for lunch out of fear of not making it through my workday. Looking at my total intake and breaking down the three major categories of Fat, Carbs, Protein:

Fat: 32 grams
One gram of fat is equal to nine calories.
25 X 9 = 225 calories or 20.7% of the overall total caloric intake.

Protein: 35.5 grams
One gram of protein is equal to four calories.
33.5 X 4 = 134 calories roughly 12.3% of my total caloric intake.

Carbohydrates: 193 grams
Likewise one gram of carbohydrates is equal to four calories.
182 X 4 = 728 calories roughly 67%


Looking at the above spreadsheet, you’ll see I consumed 47 grams of protein on Day 5.

Dr. Neal Barnard, licensed physician, nutrition researcher author and founder of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), suggests that we aim for 40 grams of fiber per day. This would be based on a diet nearly twice that of what I am currently eating, so clearly I’m getting more than enough fiber. Barnard also states how a variety of whole foods in your diet such as beans, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains will help you to meet your fiber needs. Other foods such as meat and dairy products contain zero fiber.

What About Protein?

According to PCRM, plant foods have plenty of protein. Their recommended amount of protein in the diet is 10-12% of calories. Most vegetables, legumes, and grains contain this amount or more. Excellent protein sources include beans or lentils.

Dr. John McDougall, a physician and nutrition expert, states how primarily six foods (five of them grains): barley, maize (corn), millet, potatoes, rice, and wheat have fueled the caloric engines of human civilization.  Most of the energy in these foods comes from carbohydrates, each containing only small amounts of fats. Human metabolism is designed to run primarily on carbohydrates.

Dr. McDougall in his article When Friends Ask: Where Do You Get Your Protein?  shows how the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that men and women obtain 5% (with a wide safety margin) of their calories as protein. This would mean for my typical diet of 2400 calories that I would need only 30 grams of protein. McDougall claims this quantity of protein is impossible to avoid when daily calorie requirements are met by unrefined starches and vegetables. Even if one ate slightly higher – closer to the 10% protein range – one would meet all of her protein needs with a starch and vegetable-based diet.

In an interview with Dr. McDougall from 2010, he suggested a natural diet included 10% fats, 10% proteins and 80% carbohydrates. Other experts have suggested 20% protein, 25% fats, and 55% carbohydrates (based on ideal body weight).  So, what’s the right answer? I strive for a balanced diet between 10-25% fat, 10-20% protein, and 55-80% carbs. Keeping in mind (disclaimer alert!) that I am not a doctor, and this is based on my own experience and research.

Check out Dr. McDougall’s article to learn more about breaking down protein myths, how plants can synthesize all the individual amino acids that are used to build proteins, and how they can meet all of our essential protein needs. The table below shows a comparison of plant-based and animal-based protein percentages. Dr. McDougall continues explaining that, unlike fat, protein cannot be stored. When it is consumed in excess of a human’s needs, it overworks the liver and kidneys resulting in diseases of over-nutrition.


Dr. McDougall’s article on basic nutrition offers more practical information on the four macronutrients (carbs, fats, proteins, and water), how micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) come from plants and the earth, and how our food also contains non-nutrients (cholesterol, pesticides, and additives) impacting health in a negative way.

Dr. T. Colin Campbell in his book The China Study also reveals sound scientific evidence correlating protein over-consumption and illness along with how the healthiest people on earth consume plant-based diets. Keeping in mind these folks are consuming the necessary calories to meet their needs.

As a former distance speed skater and trail runner and a vegan, I’d like to think I’m living proof that the idea of humans needing to load up on protein for optimal living is fiction. I’d even go so far as to call it utter nonsense. Carbohydrates, on the other hand, were essential for my managing the energy required to perform with maximum endurance during practices and races.

Source: Vegan Outreach

Interesting Protein Tidbit

Turns out gladiators were vegan. What? Check out VegSource  to learn more from Dr. McDougall about how archeologists recently unearthed a burial site in Turkey containing the bodies of 60 Roman gladiators. Tests of their remains led researchers to conclude the gladiators ate an exclusively plant-based diet. How cool is that?


In his 2013 book, The Starch Solution, Dr. McDougall stressed how the proper diet for humans is based on starches. The more rice, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and beans you eat, the trimmer and healthier you will be—and with those same food choices you will help save the Planet Earth too.

Dr. McDougall illustrates the claim that the natural human diet over the past 13,000 years is based on starches from a simple observation that “All large populations of trim, healthy people, throughout verifiable human history, have obtained the bulk of their calories from starch. Examples of once thriving people include Japanese, Chinese, and other Asians eating sweet potatoes, buckwheat, and/or rice, Incas in South America eating potatoes, Mayans and Aztecs in Central America eating corn, and Egyptians in the Middle East eating wheat. There have been only a few small isolated populations of primitive people, such as the Arctic Eskimos, living at the extremes of the environment, who have eaten otherwise.”  Humanity has thrived on starches. Starches are abundant in carbohydrates – the energy that keeps us going. If you purchase the book through my Amazon link, I earn a small fee at no extra cost to you!


But before I end this post tonight, I want to bring us back to world hunger. In his article, When Friends Ask: Where Do You Get Your Protein?  McDougall points out that starvation is more a result of calorie deficiency. Children recovering from starvation through the help of medical assistance that nourishes them back to health with their local diets of corn, wheat, rice or beans, grow up to 18 times faster than usual. This fast rate of growth does require a higher protein intake for their catch-up development. Plant foods meet this need including the low-protein starchy crops like cassava.

Which brings me to the thought:

If starving children – people – can be nourished back to health on a starchy plant-based diet, why are we not finding a way to ensure children, worldwide, have enough (as in helping them thrive) healthy (as in organic or nonGMO) vegetables? This thought will take me down the long and winding path of agriculture, to be shared in a future post.


Day 6 Food Intake

I weighed in at 115 oy


Fat = 36%
Carbs = 52%
Protein = 12%
Fiber = 42 grams

My fat intake was over the desired limit today, but it was peanut sauce. C’mon! And frankly, I was so hungry and tired come dinner that I cared very little about that data.

Today’s Recipe
African Style Black-Eyed Peas with Cinnamon and Cumin on Barley

This is an adaptation from a Suite 101 recipe: Vegetarian African Style Black-Eyed Peas: A Healthy and Simple Spicy Dish From Africa

Precook Barley
Bring 1 cup barley and 2 1/2 cups water to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer; cook, covered, until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 40 to 50 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes. Makes 4+ cups

Precook Black-eyed Peas
Black-eyed peas, a good source of calcium, are actually a bean, and I planned to soak 2 Cups for about four hours filling a pan with water (enough to cover the beans), and then I was planning to bring the water to a boil and then I would have simmered the beans for about 20 minutes. Black-eyed peas red beans can be served with brown rice or couscous.

What happened to the damn black-eyed peas?

I cannot find the damn black-eyed peas. This ought to give you a real keen look-see into my confused mental state. I lost a bag of beans. I’ve been ’round ’round ’round the kitchen but cannot find the damn beans. Maybe they’re in the dryer where I placed the dirty clothes earlier in the day. Yup, I was gearing up to wash dirty clothes, and I threw them in the dryer and couldn’t figure out where to put the laundry soap. My mental functioning is on a steady path of degradation.

Fortunately we had leftover red beans, so I substituted those for the black-eyed peas. Having had this meal in the past, I highly recommend you stick with the black-eyed peas, because they’re SO good.


2 tablespoons peanut oil (I used Avocado oil as we don’t have peanut oil)
4 cloves of garlic minced (we really like garlic)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 TBSP cinnamon ground
1 TBSP cumin ground
1 TBSP chili powder
1 tablespoon salt (I probably overdid it on the salt portion of our programming)
2 medium-sized tomatoes chopped
½ eggplant cubed (We still have eggplant in the garden! I used three small Japanese eggplants)
Water as needed
Optional: Spinach for the helluvit
1/2 lime


In a large pan sauté the chopped onion and eggplant in oil for five minutes, or until soft.
Add water if needed.
Add the minced garlic and stir well for another minute.
Stir through the spices for another minute.
Simmer until all ingredients are cooked
Add 3 cups (cooked) black-eyed peas red beans and simmer until all ingredients are well combined
Optional: Add spinach
Add 2-3 cups barley
Add ground nut sauce (see below)
I added the chopped tomatoes on top of the final dish
Squeeze the lime on top of the tomatoes

Ground Nut Sauce

I took the above Beans n’ Barley recipe one step further and added ground nut (peanut) sauce. This is an adaptation of a recipe found on Traditional West African Recipes.


1.5 cup shelled and roasted but not salted groundnuts (peanuts)
3.5 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
2 TBSP ground chili pepper (we like spicy)
4 tablespoons groundnut oil (I ignored this as not to add any more fat to the sauce)
8 tablespoons finely chopped onion (optional)

Grind the nuts finely until they become almost powdery, almost like a paste – kind of like peanut butter but drier.
Put the paste-powder in a sauce pan with the water, salt and chili pepper.
Boil for about five minutes and simmer for 10 minutes or until a thick sauce is formed.
Optional: Fry the onion in oil until soft and then add it to the sauce. Stir together and simmer for a another 10 minutes.

Serves 6 (more or less)
For the record, I made a large batch of this dish so that we can have leftovers tomorrow saving some cooking time and possibly the remaining semblance of my sanity.

African Style Black-Eyed Peas with Cinnamon and Cumin and Ground Nut Sauce

Double yum. This dish was so filling, I was unable to finish it.


Many things made me become a vegetarian, among them, the higher food yield as a solution to world hunger.
~John Denver


To read other posts in this series, click click click the links. Please share your comments!

Day 1:    The Food Justice Diet
Day 2:    Alarming and Curious Statistics
Day 3:    Finish Your Plate, There are Children Starving in Ethiopia
Day 4:    The Nameless Hungry
Days 5-6:  “Where Does She Get Her Protein??”
Day 7:    One Small NGO Making a Big Impact in Ethiopia
Day 8:    The Language of Hunger
Day 9:    Plenty of Soy Solutions in Latin America
Days 10-11: Can Small-scale farming feed the world?
Day 12: Why Organic Farming?
Days 13-14: The Have and Have-Nots of Southeast Asia
Day 15: Have You Eaten Today?
Day 16: Hunger in America
Days 17 & 18: Hunger’s Dirty Little Secret
Day 19: Eat Plants
Day 20: Watch This, Read That
Day 21: The Power of Activism


  1. Victoria S.

    I already commented on Facebook but I found this article mostly new information and so interesting! I just wish this information were taught in schools – I believe second grade is when they really start so kids can be informed young. You also inspired me to make our favorite lentil/black bean/ quinoa meal for dinner :). Thanks, Kenda!

    1. Kenda

      Thanks for your comment and input, Victoria! I totally agree, this should be taught in schools. I also think it should be part of medical school curriculum. It’s not commonplace for med students (at least it wasn’t, maybe that’s changed) to learn about nutrition.

      YUM. Lentil/black bean/quinoa. Sounds delish. If you have a recipe, please share. Enjoy!

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