Eating an appropriate amount of protein each day can be difficult on those busy days when you don’t have time to cook chicken, steak, or eggs. Cheese is also an option, but high in calories and fat. Or maybe you’ve decided to make a change towards vegetarianism or veganism. Either way the options listed here are surprisingly excellent sources of protein. Many of these foods can be added to your existing diet, or might already be in your kitchen. Making simple changes can add healthier protein options without sacrificing taste.
Protein-packed foods can easily be found at your local grocery store or supermarket. They are affordable and versatile for any lifestyle, and can be used in a multitude of different dishes. If you’ve never tried an ingredient, but wish to try, you can search online for new recipes and ideas on how to use it in the best possible way.
Don’t shy away just because you didn’t like the first recipe, look up a different one and prepare the protein differently, you might be in for a surprise. A change in your diet isn’t something to run away from, it can open up the taste buds and allow you to experience different textures and flavours.
We all know that tofu is a great source of protein that’s meat-free, however what other healthy options are there? The list below will provide you with unlikely foods that are packed with protein. It is recommended that men get approximately 56 grams of protein per day, while women should reach 46 grams by the end of the day.
10 Nuts and Nut Butter
These crunchy and salty treats are full of protein and other essential nutrients. In order for nuts and nut butter to be a healthy snack, it’s important to read the ingredients. Make sure the only ingredients listed are nuts and (some) salt or sugar, avoiding hydrogenated oils and excessive amounts of sugar. Whether you are buying raw or roasted peanuts, make sure the salt content isn’t through the roof to avoid high-blood pressure. Love peanut butter? Opt for the all-natural versions, they are unprocessed and taste great. Whether you’re munching on peanuts during your afternoon snack, or spreading peanut butter on your morning toast, you are consuming protein to help grow strong and lean muscles. Half a cup of peanuts has 19 grams of protein, making these little wonders packed with essential vitamins and minerals.
Chickpeas are an excellent source of protein, with 14.6 grams found in every cup. They are also known as garbanzo beans, so look in the bean aisle at your local grocery store for both. Found dried or in a can, they are an easy and quick addition to every meal. Simply soak the dried chickpeas overnight to rehydrate them, or rinse them thoroughly if they are canned. Once prepared, you can serve them raw or cooked. Throw them over a salad, eat them on their own for a snack, or puree them to create a homemade hummus. Simply throw some chickpeas in the blender with some spices and oil, and you have yourself a delicious homemade spread. Chickpeas should not be overlooked, as they are one of the most protein-packed foods available on the market.
There is a wide variety of beans, packed with protein and fiber. Kidney beans, black beans, lima beans, pinto beans, and much more. Similar to the chickpea, they can be found in your grocery store either dried or canned. Beans make a very hearty addition to soups, wraps, and rice. You can also add them on top of a salad or baked potato, for a mess-free addition to your favourite dish. Simply add them cold or warm, and you will be instantly adding a healthy amount of protein. Kidney beans have 14 grams of protein per cup, a large amount for such a tiny legume. So, pull out a pot and get cooking.
One of the new superfoods that’s sweeping the nation. Technically a seed, quinoa has been described as a cross between rice and couscous. The grain-like seeds are small and round, and found in various shades of beige, red, and black. Cooking is very simple, simply add 2 cups of water to every 1 cup of quinoa and let boil until the seeds release a small membrane and water is completely evaporated. You can then add chopped raw vegetables, stir fry, or fruit to make a delicious meal or snack. That’s right, quinoa can be used in desserts as well as for main meals. Simply cook up some quinoa and mix it together with chopped fruit and some honey, making it a great addition to your usual fruit salad. One cooked cup of this wonderful seed packs in a total of 8 grams of protein, as well as amino acids that our bodies cannot produce. Quinoa is an excellent staple that should be added to every diet.
6 Green Peas
Did you know that green peas are a great way to get protein into your diet? Those little peas that your mother used to scoop onto your plate and threaten that there would no dessert until you ate them, have nearly 8 grams of protein for every cup. Add them to soups, stir frys, or as a side dish to your favourite meal. They taste great and go very well with a multitude of dishes. Buy them frozen, canned, or fresh and you’ll have endless possibilities to add protein and taste. You can also blend them together in a food processor or a blender with some oil and spices to create a quick and delicious pesto sauce. You can use the sauce as a dip, for pasta, or as a salad dressing.
5 Non-Dairy Milk
Many people have now made the change from cow’s milk to non-dairy milk substitutes. There are an endless amount of different non-dairy substitutes made of seeds, beans, and nuts. Almond milk, hemp milk, soya milk, coconut milk, and rice milk are only some of the options available today. They come in a variety of flavours from unsweetened to chocolate, or vanilla. It’s always best to try a few different kinds until you find your perfect match. Each cup has 7 to 9 grams of protein, making non-dairy milk a fast and low-fat source of protein. Replacing milk for these healthier options is a great way to lower calories, fat, and cholesterol from your diet.
4 Brown Rice
We all know that brown rice is good for us. It’s full of fiber which helps keep our gut clean and running smoothly, and has 5 grams of protein per cup. Simply add two cups of water to every one cup of uncooked rice to a pot and let boil until the rice has absorbed all of the water. Mix with soy sauce and fried vegetables for a quick and tasty meal. You won’t have to bother with the mess of cooking meat as your main source of protein will come from the rice itself. Adding some of the vegetables from this list will make this a protein-packed meal.
Popeye had it right, spinach did give him all those big muscles. In 2010, a studied showed that children chose to eat more vegetables after watching Popeye on television. Just one cup of this leafy green has 5 grams of protein. You can throw in a handful into any fruit smoothie to add raw and unprocessed protein. Or just mix spinach with your favourite salad mix, adding protein without meat, egg, or dairy. Spinach is fat free and low in calories making it a great option if you’re trying to watch your figure. You can also add it to any dinner meal, making it a very versatile option.
From dips to chocolate pudding, avocados are a delicious option for any meal. Cut it open, remove the pit, and scoop out the meat to make a delicious guacamole. Simply mash the avocado with lemon or lime juice, salt and pepper, and just a little bit a cayenne pepper to make a killer guacamole. You can also blend up avocado with maple syrup, cocoa powder, and vanilla to make a thick and healthy version of chocolate pudding. Don’t knock it ‘till you try it, as this pudding has a great texture. Avocados are delicious and make for a great side dish.
1 Chia Seeds
You know those pesky commercials from the '90s of crazy little clay pots that grew grass-hair when watered? Well, those seeds are now making a huge comeback, but in a different way. These amazing little seeds can absorb water or milk, turning into a thick and jelly-like substance. It’s a texture all on its own and should be tried by everyone at least once. You can make puddings, replace eggs, or thicken smoothies with chia seeds. Two tablespoons has 4 grams of protein, lots of fiber, and has one of the highest sources of omega-3 fatty acids. They also can help with weight loss as they make you feel fuller for longer. Chia seeds are a fun way to change up your usual diet.