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I'm nursing and wanted to know if I can eat sunflower seeds. I also wanted to know about beans. I'm deathly allergic to shell fish and my oldest daughter is deathly allergic to peanuts and allergic to all nuts. We don't eat a lot of red meat for other health reason. I have no clue what my family should eat for better protein. Any good ideas?
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In their nutritional breakdown of sunflower seeds, the USDA nutrition databank writes, "It is also a good source of Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Copper, Manganese and Selenium, and a very good source of Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)." The National Sunflower Association—of course they are sunflower cheer leadersᾹstate that sunflower seeds are a good source of protein. Yes, they do have a good bit of fat, but it is the type of fat you need.
Okay, I'm back to being confused. What is the connection between allergies to peanuts and all nuts and beans? Let's use our beanies (I've got a million of them and I'm just getting started), and figure out exactly what these things are.
It appears that you can be nuts about beans because they ain't the same. The definition of beans (legumes) is a specific type of plant, belonging to the family Fabaceae (formerly Leguminosae). These plants produce their fruit as a pod and generally possess nitrogen-fixing bacteria in nodules on their roots. Examples of legumes include peas, beans, and alfalfa. A nut is a simple dry fruit with one seed (rarely two) in which the ovary wall becomes very hard (stony or woody) at maturity, and where the seed remains unattached or unfused with the ovary wall. Most nuts come from pistils with inferior ovaries... and all are indehiscent (not opening at maturity). True nuts are produced, for example, by some plants—families of the Fagales.
So, for those science heads this makes all the sense in the world. For the rest of us, my definition is that if you plant a bean, you will get a plant. It is dehiscent. It will open on its own. Plant a pistachio and nothing happens. They are indehiscent. They will not open. Make sense? Botanically, they are different. Nutritionally, they are different in a number of ways including their fat, protein and fiber content.
Beans are a fantastic source of protein and iron. See the Quick Vegan Pantry List. You can add any other bean with that list, including split peas, lentils, navy beans, black-eyed peas, adzuki and lima (I did a quick look around my kitchen).
Of course, just having beans would be going against the grain. And speaking of grains, (I know you groaned and imagined me bald and wearing a bad plaid suit), the definition of grain is a small, dry, one-seeded fruit of a cereal grass, having the fruit and the seed walls united. The grains I would add to the list are kamut (takes a little time to cook, but fab protein quality and flavor), millet, kasha and barley. Quinoa is considered by the American Dietetics Association to be a complete protein as is soy.
You don't mention a soy allergy, Soy why not include tofu and tempeh in your diet? There are cookbooks and a website listed above to help you out.
Also, you can order Food Allergy Survival Guide by Jo Stepaniak. That might help you through any other allergy questions and she always has great recipes.
I have the Tempeh-tation to write more, but I think I'll stop before I get the hook.
Resources and Sources:
Sunbutter versus Peant Butter - Allergies to peanuts and sunflower seeds
The Power of Sunflower Seeds - a PDF download
Nut (fruit) - Wikipedia definition
Grain -The Free Dictionary definition
Get your own personal nutrition consultation with Marty here.
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