When you think of protein, I’m guessing that most people think of meat. When I was much younger, I thought I needed a solid piece of meat on my plate among other things in order to have a balanced diet. As I’ve studied healthy eating through the years, I’ve come to realize that there are so many other options and choices for incorporating protein into our diet! I think you are going to love this list of 25 Protein Sources. Most of them are quick and easy!
Salmon is loaded with protein and is lean, and low in calories. I love to bake it in the oven and throw it on a salad, or top it with fresh veggies. Although more expensive it is best if you can find wild caught fillets.
2. Lean cuts of Beef
Whether you grill, stir fry, or sauté it, beef is a great base for a healthy and protein rich meal. Look for grass fed beef when you can, as it has less fat and more omega 3’s than grain fed. And as with all meats; hormone free, no antibiotics, etc. is better too!
With about 6g protein per egg, these little nuggets are a great way to get some quick protein. You can hard boil, scramble…you know the drill!!
4. Low-fat String Cheese
For a quick snack on the go, grab some low fat string cheese and an apple and eat them together!
5. Greek Yogurt
Greek Yogurt usually contains about twice the protein of regular yogurt, however all brands are not created equal. Make sure you read the label and look for brands that contain higher amounts of protein and do not have added ingredients. The main ingredients should be milk and live active cultures.
Avocados have the highest protein content of any fruit! (Yes it is a fruit!) Avocados are a food that many people avoid because they think they are fattening, but they are high in mono-unsaturated fat (the good kind) and loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Our body actually needs good fat to function properly! Try this To Die for Avocado and Pine Nut Salad.
There is nothing more fun than popping these little babies into your mouth! Whether you buy them fresh and steam them, or buy them frozen and defrost, they make a quick and easy snack. You’ll get about 17 grams protein/cup
10.Pepitos (shelled pumpkin seeds)
11. Hemp Seeds
If you are not used to using tofu, it can be a little intimidating, but it is easier than you think! I like to buy the firm tofu, cut it into cubes and sauté it until it is golden brown on all sides. Then you can add it into a stir fry, or other meal you are making. And yes, I have actually tried tofu-pot pie before!
13. Protein Bars
Protein bars are probably one of the most common ways people are getting protein in their diet! Be careful though! There are many bars out there that are as bad as candy bars! Always look at the ingredient list and find ones that only have a few ingredients. One of my favorites is Larabar.
14. Protein Powder
This middle eastern snack is low in fat and high in fiber and protein! It is made from garbanzo beans, tahini, olive oil, garlic and various other ingredients. Use it as a dip for peppers, cucumbers, carrots, celery, or whatever you can get your hands on! A tablespoon has about 1.2 grams of protein
Quinoa has grown in popularity in recent years. It is a little grain packed with nutrients! A whopping 24 grams of protein is in 1 cup of uncooked quinoa. I love to use it as a replacement for rice, and have even just cooked it and added it to my spaghetti sauce, soup, or whatever I am cooking! It has such a mild flavor, it doesn’t change the taste of the dish you add it to. You can find it at Costco, or most grocery stores. You’ll find 20 quinoa recipes to love on a recent post HERE.
Most beans have about 7-10 grams of protein per half cup. If you don’t want to cook them up yourself, you can buy them canned. Just make sure you look for low sodium, and BPA free cans.
18. Chia Seeds
These little gems have quickly become one of my favorite additions to whatever I am eating! Besides being high in protein, they are also packed with omega 3’s, calcium, and fiber. They are also great for helping your body get rid of toxins, and they are very hydrating! I love to put mine in smoothies, (make sure you add extra liquid) or just sprinkle them on my cereal!
Okay, I already know most of you are saying, “Ama-what?” Trust me on this one. This little seed has been called a super-grain because it is so packed with goodness. I like to throw mine in my electric pressure cooker with some water and it is done in four minutes. You can also cook it on the stovetop. It comes out much like a hot cereal (think cream-o-wheat only better). I just add a little milk, and some agave and top it off with some blueberries!
20. Cottage Cheese
One of my favorite high protein breakfasts is a cottage-cheese pancake! Check out Dad’s Favorite Breakfast for the recipe. So fast and easy!
21. Beef or Turkey Jerky
A great snack on the go is jerky. Try to get low sodium, and no sugar added
22. Almond Butter
I love to spread almond butter on toasted whole grain bread, celery, or apple slices. It is a great source of protein. Once again, watch your portions as almonds are high in fat!
23. Precooked Chicken Sausage
If you love the flavor of sausage, but hate the fat, try precooked chicken sausage. It only has about 1/3 of the unhealthy saturated fats, and each link has about 17 grams of protein.
These last two are great for freezing! If you haven’t seen the light with how awesome freezer cooking is, check out my post called “The Ultimate Guide to Freezer Meals”. You can buy shrimp and chicken already frozen, or when you are making dinner, cook some extra and then freeze it in ziploc baggies in individual portions. Then you can thaw it and throw it on a salad for a quick and easy lunch!
Image by Sandrine at Creole Art Photography