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Vegan and omnivorous diets promote equivalent muscle mass gain, study shows

Protein intake is more important than protein source if the goal is to gain muscle strength and mass. This is the key finding of a study that compared the effects of strength training in volunteers with a vegan or omnivorous diet, both with protein content considered adequate.



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Protein intake is more important than protein source if the goal is to gain muscle strength and mass. This is the key finding of a study that compared the effects of strength training in volunteers with a vegan or omnivorous diet, both with protein content considered adequate.

In the study, which was conducted by researchers at the University of São Paulo (USP) in Brazil, 38 healthy young adults, half of whom were vegans and half omnivores, were monitored for 12 weeks. In addition to performing exercises to increase muscle strength and mass, the volunteers followed either a mixed diet with both animal and plant protein, or an entirely plant-based diet, both with the recommended protein content (1.6 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight per day). At the end of three months, there was no difference between vegans and omnivores in terms of muscle strength and mass increase.

“Like any other protein in our organism, such as the proteins in our skin and hair cells, which die and are renewed, our muscles undergo synthesis and breakdown every day. Diet [protein intake] and exercise are the main protein balance regulators, favoring synthesis over breakdown,” said Hamilton Roschel, last author of the published study. Roschel is a University of São Paulo professor affiliated with both USP’s Sports and Physical Education School (EEEE) and Medical School (FM). He also heads the Applied Physiology and Nutrition Research Group jointly run by EEEE-USP and FM-USP.

Protein sources are characterized primarily on the basis of essential amino acids, especially leukin, which plays a key role in anabolic stimulation of skeletal muscles. “Animal protein has more leukin than plant protein. Leukin is an essential amino acid in the anabolic stimulus signaling process. A plant-based diet is often thought to contain less leukin and hence trigger less anabolic stimulation, potentially affecting vegans’ capacity for muscle mass gain,” Roschel said.

The study is published in Sports Medicine.

The study innovated by including a clinical analysis of the effects of protein source quality on muscle adaptation in vegans as compared with omnivores, since most research on the topic to date has focused on the acute anabolic response of muscles to protein intake under laboratory conditions and not on muscle mass as such. “Our findings show that there is no impairment of muscle mass gain for young adult vegans if they ingest the right amount of protein. In fact, the outcome of both diets was the same in this respect,” Roschel said.

However, the researchers stress that, for the purposes of experimental control, protein intake was made the same in both diets by means of protein supplements. Omnivores and vegans were given milk serum protein isolate or soy protein respectively in accordance with individual dietary needs in order to attain the targeted protein intake.

“In clinical practice, we know foods of animal origin generally have a higher protein content,” Roschel said. “Meat, milk and eggs contain more protein per gram than rice and beans, for example. In a clinical application with plant-based foods as the sole protein source, vegans would need to ingest a large amount of food to obtain the same amount of protein. In some specific cases, this could be a major challenge.”

The protein source (mixed or plant-based diet) made no difference, provided each subject received an adequate amount of protein. “This result corroborates other data in the literature showing that a vegan diet can absolutely be complete if it is properly planned and executed,” Roschel said. “Previous studies suggest it can even be healthier than an omnivorous diet. For this to be the case, however, it requires appropriate nutritional counseling and education regarding people’s choices in restricting their intake to plant-based sources.”

Another point noted by Roschel is that the subjects were healthy young adults, and the results might be different for older people or subjects with health problems. “Aging entails a phenomenon known as anabolic resistance, meaning a suboptimal anabolic response to the stimuli provided by diet and exercise compared with young people. Optimal response is possible in older people only if their protein intake is higher than that of the average healthy youngster. So we should be cautious about generalizing our findings for the entire population.”

The article “High-protein plant-based diet versus a protein-matched omnivorous diet to support resistance training adaptations: a comparison between habitual vegans and omnivores” was done by Victoria Hevia-Larraín, Bruno Gualano, Igor Longobardi, Saulo Gil, Alan L. Fernandes, Luiz A. R. Costa, Rosa M. R. Pereira, Guilherme G. Artioli, Stuart M. Phillips and Hamilton Roschel.

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Make your own Cajun-style enchiladas

Here’s a Tex-Mex favorite with a Cajun twist!



It’s a Tex-Mex favorite with a Cajun twist! These Cajun-Style Enchiladas by High Heels & Good Meals are the perfect blend of Cajun and Mexican flavors, and just what you’ve been craving for, thanks to Tony Chachere’s.


1 ½ Teaspoons Tony’s BOLD Creole Seasoning
½ Cup Tony’s Chicken Marinade
½ Teaspoon Garlic Powder
½ Teaspoon Onion Powder
½ Teaspoon Chili Powder
½ Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1 Package 10-Inch Corn Tortillas
4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs, Diced
1 Pound Shrimp, Cleaned and Deveined
1 Small Onion, Chopped
4-6 Cloves Garlic, Minced
3 Bell Peppers, Green, Red and Yellow, Chopped
½ Cup Milk
½ Cup Enchilada Sauce
2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
2 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
1 ½ Cups Mexican-Style Cheese, Shredded
2-3 Green Onions, Chopped for Garnish
Cilantro, Chopped for Garnish

Prep Time:       20 Minutes
Cook Time:      35 Minutes
Serves:            6-8

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Dice the chicken thighs into small cubes and season with Tony’s BOLD Creole Seasoning, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder and smoked paprika.
  3. In a separate bowl, do the same with the shrimp.
  4. Add ¼ of the marinade and ½ of the minced garlic to each bowl. Mix well and let it rest in the refrigerator for about 20-25 minutes.
  5. After finished marinating, sauté chicken on medium heat and set aside once cooked.
  6. In the same pan, add shrimp and cook. Only 2 minutes per side. Be careful not to overcook the shrimp. Remove and set aside.
  7. In the same pan, add chopped onions and bell peppers and cook until translucent. Remove and set aside.
  8. In the same pan, add the unsalted butter, flour and 1 teaspoon of the Tony’s BOLD Creole Seasoning.
  9. Whisk together until the starch cooks out of the flour. Add the enchilada sauce and combine.
  10. Add milk and whisk until there is a smooth and silky consistency.
  11. Now assemble the enchiladas! Add a thin layer of the enchilada sauce to the bottom of a baking dish.
  12. In a tortilla, add a layer of chicken, veggies and cheese, roll up and place it down in the baking dish.
  13. Using another tortilla, repeat the previous step with shrimp. Continue alternating chicken and shrimp until the baking dish is full.
  14. Once the baking dish is filled with the stuffed tortillas, add a nice coating of the enchilada sauce on top.
  15. Cover the entire dish with the remaining Mexican-style cheese and bake at 350°F for 20 minutes.
  16. After about 20 minutes, your Cajun-Style Enchiladas will be bubbly and ready for you to top with chopped green onions and cilantro. Enjoy!
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3 Grilling hacks for delicious, plant-based summer menus

Simple, flavorful recipes can be easy on the home chef yet still tasty and enjoyable for those at the table.



Cooking and entertaining outdoors can bring friends and family back together, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple, flavorful recipes can be easy on the home chef yet still tasty and enjoyable for those at the table.

One of the best parts of the season is grilled fare like burgers, hot dogs and fresh vegetables. This year, consider adding a plant-based option to your menu. Made with simple, recognizable ingredients, Lightlife offers vegan, non-GMO options that are made for the grill, like Plant-Based Burgers, Smart Dogs and Italian Smart Sausage. These products can help satisfy the craving for protein and are made with ingredients you can feel good about serving your friends and family.

“Food brings people together, and now more than ever, grilling season and dining al fresco is one of the best ways to do that,” said Tommy McDonald, executive chef at Greenleaf Foods. “Think of the grill as an additional seasoning element – a zero-fuss way to add miles of flavor. One of my favorite products is Lightlife’s Smart Dogs, which have been reformulated to taste better than ever. Try topping them with a freshly made onion jam or quick-pickled relish.”

Consider these tips from McDonald to properly grill plant-based variations of your favorite meals:

Be mindful of cook times. Plant-based protein products typically taste best when cooked properly, usually over a low, open flame. When you’re almost ready to dish them out in recipes like Grilled Pineapple Burgers with Honey Garlic Barbecue Sauce or Avocado Toast Dogs, give them a quick sear. If you’re unsure, reference the recommended cook times on the packaging.

Keep it separate. During these seasonal celebrations, there’s often some people who want traditional meat and others who crave plant-based options. To satisfy your group, drop a cast-iron skillet on the grill and allow it to heat up. Put your favorite plant-based proteins in the skillet, along with veggies, to keep the grill organized.

Top it off. Don’t skimp on the toppings. The next time you’re looking to jazz up burgers, sausages or hot dogs, make an easy DIY onion jam to spread on top. While the burgers and dogs are on the grates, prepare some extra coals; once they’ve burned down a bit, bury foil-wrapped onions in the coals. After the onions are soft and warmed through, pull them out and enjoy a smokey onion jam.

For more simple summer recipes, visit

Grilled Pineapple Burgers with Honey Garlic Barbecue Sauce
Total time: 30 minutes
Serving: 2

2          rings freshly cored pineapple
2          Lightlife Plant-Based Burger patties
            salt, to taste
            pepper, to taste
2          sesame seed burger buns, lightly toasted
1          cup baby arugula
1/4       cup crispy fried onions
2          tablespoons honey garlic barbecue sauce

Heat grill to medium. Grill pineapple slices 4-5 minutes per side until grill-marked and slightly caramelized. Cut slices in half and set aside. Wipe down grill.

Season burger patties with salt and pepper, to taste. To grill burgers from refrigerator, grill 4-5 minutes per side until evenly browned with internal temperature of 165 F.

To assemble burgers, layer toasted bottom buns with arugula then top each with burger patty and two slices grilled pineapple. Sprinkle with crispy fried onions and drizzle with barbecue sauce. Top each with top bun.

Avocado Toast Dogs
Total time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4

2          medium avocados
1/2       lemon, juice only
1/4       teaspoon salt
1/4       teaspoon pepper
4          Lightlife Smart Dogs
4          hot dog buns
1/2       teaspoon everything bagel seasoning 

Lightly coat grill grates with oil and preheat to medium heat.

In small bowl, mash avocados, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Cover and rest in refrigerator.

Grill dogs 6-7 minutes, turning frequently.

While dogs are grilling, lightly toast buns.

Spread avocado mixture on one side of toasted buns. Sprinkle each with everything bagel seasoning. Add dogs and drizzle with sriracha.

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Sizzling meals made for summer

Taking your dishes from ordinary to extraordinary starts with chef-inspired recipes that call to mind the flavors of the season.



Summertime, for many, represents an opportunity to enjoy freshly cooked meals while enjoying time outdoors. Taking your dishes from ordinary to extraordinary starts with chef-inspired recipes that call to mind the flavors of the season.

Whether you’re a steak enthusiast who enjoys nothing more than a tender cut or a summer burger connoisseur looking for a fresh twist on tradition, these recipes call for high-quality beef from Omaha Steaks. Created by Omaha Steaks Executive Chef David Rose, the New York Strips Oscar-Style complement the thick, juicy, marbled flavor of the steaks with sauteed asparagus, bearnaise sauce and jumbo lump crab meat. Or turn your attention to Fried Lobster Po Boy Burgers with pimento remoulade sauce for a tempting way to combine two summertime favorites – seafood and burgers.

Visit for more summer meal inspiration.

Fried Lobster Po Boy Burgers
Recipe courtesy of Omaha Steaks Executive Chef David Rose
Prep time: about 20 minutes
Cook time: about 20 minutes
Servings: 2

Pimento Remoulade: 
            1/2       cup mayonnaise 
            1 1/2    tablespoons minced pimentos
            1          tablespoon Dijon mustard
            1          tablespoon minced bread and butter pickles
            1          pepperoncino (seeded and minced)
            1/4       teaspoon smoked paprika
            1/4       teaspoon garlic powder
            1/4       teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
            1          tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
            3          dashes hot sauce
                        kosher salt, to taste

Fried Lobster Tails:
                        Vegetable oil, for frying
            1/2       cup all-purpose flour
            1/2       teaspoon kosher salt, divided
            1/2       teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
            1/4       teaspoon garlic powder
            1/4       teaspoon smoked paprika 
            1          large egg
            1          tablespoon water
            2          dashes hot sauce
            1/4       cup potato chips, finely blended in food processor
            1/3       cup panko breadcrumbs
            1          tablespoon minced flat leaf Italian parsley 
            2          Omaha Steaks lobster tails (5 ounces each)

            1          pound Omaha Steaks premium ground beef
                        salt, to taste
                        freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
            2          tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
            2          brioche buns
            2          slices yellow cheddar cheese
            3          leaves romaine lettuce, shredded

To make pimento remoulade: In small bowl, mix mayonnaise, pimentos, mustard, pickles, pepperoncino, paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, lemon juice and hot sauce until well incorporated. Season with salt, to taste.

To make fried lobster tails: Preheat grill to 400 F and add oil to 10-inch cast-iron pan about 1/2-inch deep.

In medium bowl, whisk flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, garlic powder and smoked paprika until well incorporated. Set aside.

In separate medium bowl, whisk egg, water and hot sauce. Set aside.

In third medium bowl, whisk potato chips, panko breadcrumbs and parsley until well incorporated. Set aside.

Cut lobster tails in half lengthwise, remove meat from shell and season with remaining kosher salt and black pepper.

Toss halved lobster tails in flour mixture first, egg mixture second then potato chip mixture third, coating thoroughly.

Fry lobster tails 3-4 minutes on each side until golden brown and cooked through. Close grill lid between flipping.

To make cheeseburgers: Preheat grill to 450 F using direct heat. Form ground beef into two 1/2 pound patties, each about 1/2-inch thick.

Using thumb, make dimple in center of each patty to help cook evenly.

Season both sides of burger with salt and pepper, to taste. Spread butter on each cut side of buns.

Grill burgers 4-5 minutes per side for medium doneness.

Add one slice cheddar cheese on each burger, close lid and grill about 30 seconds to melt cheese. Remove patties from grill to clean plate. Place buns cut sides down on grill grates and toast 20-30 seconds, or until well toasted, being careful to avoid burning.

To assemble: Place desired remoulade on buns. Place cheeseburgers on bottom buns. Top each with two fried lobster tail halves. Place handful shredded lettuce on lobster tails. Top with buns.

New York Strips Oscar-Style
Recipe courtesy of Omaha Steaks Executive Chef David Rose
Prep time: about 30 minutes
Cook time: about 3 1/2 hours
Servings: 4

Sauteed Asparagus:
            1/2       pound jumbo asparagus (about 1 bunch), blanched in salted boiling water
            3          tablespoons olive oil
            2          garlic cloves, minced
            2          tablespoons minced shallots 
                        salt, to taste
                        freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bearnaise Sauce:
            1/4       cup white wine vinegar
            2          tablespoons minced shallots 
            1          tablespoon chopped tarragon 
            3          egg yolks 
            2          tablespoons water, plus additional for boiling, divided
            2          dashes hot sauce 
            12        tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
                        salt, to taste 
                        freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Jumbo Lump Crab Meat:
            1          pound jumbo lump crab meat
            2          tablespoons kosher salt

New York Strip Steaks:
           4          Omaha Steaks Private Reserve or Butcher’s Cut New York Strips (10 ounces each
                       salt, to taste
                       freshly ground black pepper, to taste
           4          tablespoons grapeseed oil
           4          tablespoons unsalted butter
           3          garlic cloves
           2          fresh thyme sprigs

To make asparagus: Cut asparagus stalks into 1/4-inch pieces. Heat large pan over medium-high heat and add olive oil.

Add garlic and shallots to pan; lightly saute about 20 seconds, or until fragrant.

Add asparagus to pan; saute about 2 minutes until lightly browned. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

To make bearnaise sauce: In small saucepan, bring vinegar, shallots and tarragon to boil then reduce to simmer 3-4 minutes until reduced by about half. Cool to room temperature.

Bring medium pot half full of water to slow boil.

In small bowl, whisk egg yolks, vinegar reduction, water and hot sauce until well incorporated.

Place bowl over pot of boiling water and continue whisking ingredients until it starts to emulsify and becomes sauce-like. Alternate whisking on and off heat every 30 seconds to prevent eggs from scrambling.

Gradually add melted butter, continuously whisking until sauce becomes rich with ribbony consistency and sets up. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. If too thick, add 1 tablespoon water at a time and whisk to desired consistency.

To make crab meat: In medium bowl, lightly toss crab meat with salt until well coated.

To make steaks: Pat steaks dry with paper towels and season heavily with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring steaks to room temperature.

Place sous vide immersion circulator in pot of water and set to 5 F below target doneness.

Place seasoned steaks in sous vide bag or zip-top bag and cook 2 hours.

Remove bag and remove steaks from bag. Pat steaks dry with paper towels.

Warm large cast-iron pan over high heat and add oil. Add steaks, butter, garlic cloves and thyme leaves. After about 1 minute, steaks should start to brown.

Flip steaks and baste with butter until caramelized. Remove steaks from pan and rest 7-8 minutes.

To assemble: Place asparagus on bottom of plate. Top with steaks (whole or sliced), crab meat and bearnaise sauce.

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