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Protein matters, there’s no doubt about it.  Known as a “building block,” protein is an important part of EVERY cell in your body, your hair, nails, bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood. Our bodies use protein to build and repair tissues, along with making enzymes and hormones.

According to the experts at WebMD, protein is considered a “macronutrient,” which means our bodies need relatively large amounts of it. But unlike fellow macronutrients (like fat and carbohydrates), the body doesn’t store protein, so there’s no reservoir for it to draw from when it needs a new supply.

Meaning?  You gotta consume it!  That’s where we come in.  At Fork & Salad, we felt having a wide variety of proteins was important to the customized choices for building your own culinary creations along the cold line, or enjoying our range of signature salads, sandwiches and wraps. We wanted a plethora of options available, whether as crucial daily food intake (for all of us, but particularly vegetarians and vegans), or just for a tasty addition to your meal.

Here’s what we offer in terms of proteins:

Chicken breast tossed with Meyer lemon and herb dressing (184 calories)
Ginger-baked tofu (82 calories)
Baked quinoa falafel (176 calories)
Pastrami-seasoned seared Ahi (182 calories)
Baked Ahi belly with olive oil, capers and kalamata olives (204 calories)
Ancho chile-seasoned steak (390 calories)

Here’s the skinny on some of our most popular proteins.  Our Ahi belly is fresh, local tuna, baked with a caper and olive tapenade, EVOO and red chili. The belly of the tuna is naturally moist due to the high fat content, but this is good fat — healthy unsaturated omega fatty acids to be exact, plus TONS of protein.

Another beloved protein is our baked quinoa falafel. Now this is a special one:  it’s not only 100% plant-based, meaning VEGAN, but it’s also gluten-free and non-fried like traditional falafels. It’s meticulously made, combining aromatics like garlic, red onion and parsley with exotic spices such as cumin, coriander and tahini (sesame seed purée), plus ground chickpeas and organic cooked quinoa. They’re formed into individual balls and roasted until golden brown. They’re perfect on a salad, in a wrap, or as the star of our signature Falafel Sandwich with zesty dill tzatziki!!

The roasted chicken breast is a wildly popular option. It’s all-natural, baked with herbs and tossed in Meyer-lemon dressing, making it a superior, low-calorie, protein-rich option to add to any salad or wrap. It’s also a main ingredient in our bestselling sandwich, the Smoky Papaya Chicken Sandwich, which also features bacon, goat cheese, local papaya, Three’s housemade hot sauce, and avocado!!  It’s no wonder chicken is popular!!

Just so you know, we take protein containment seriously when it comes to animal and vegetable-based proteins.  They’re stored in separate containers, and our salad techs are more than happy to accommodate requests to use fresh kitchen utensils when mixing vegan menu items.

We’ve selected some interesting spice combinations for each of our protein recipes. For instance, our steak is seasoned with ancho chili, giving it a rich, deep flavor, with just a touch of chili heat. Another spice blend is the crust for our seared Ahi — it’s essentially pastrami seasoning: a combo of coriander seeds, juniper berries, black peppercorns, bay leaves and other spices. It adds a very unique flavor to the seared ahi, sort of floral, yet savory at the same time. Lastly, our tofu is baked with ground ginger, white miso and agave. We apply a thick layer so it forms a crust as it bakes, concentrating and locking those flavors in to the tofu.

Other cool facts:  All of our fish (Ahi belly and seared Ahi) is local, the tofu is made in Wailuku, Maui, our eco-friendly shrimp is sustainably farm-raised, and we feature grass-fed beef.  And speaking of beef, the ancho chili-seasoned steak is a relative newcomer to our menu, added to appeal to a diversity of guests’ needs.  Beef is a protein-packed option, especially for gym-goers after a workout (who get a discount starting at 3 p.m. daily, by the way!).  Plus we feel like a steak sandwich really completes our menu, and it’s getting rave reviews from customers!!

Lastly, if you’re wondering how much protein you should be getting every day, the U.S. Department of Health recommends this:

Children ages 2 to 6, most women, some older people:  2 daily servings = 5 ounces total

Older children, teenage girls, active women, most men:  2 daily servings = 6 ounces total

Teenage boys, active men:  3 daily servings = 7 ounces total

So join us at Fork & Salad to get your fill of healthy proteins, along with daily servings of fruits, vegetables and much more!  #EatLocalEatHealthy