Vegetarian for almost 30 years now, I have invested a considerable amount of time in learning about nutrition. You become a better cook as you learn to combine various ingredients for protein-rich snacks and meals without the use of meat.
As a fitness enthusiast, my need for protein is higher than what is required by those less active – and in an effort to give my body what it needs to perform optimally, and with a view to remaining healthy, I try to make every snack and meal count. A good first step is understanding your Daily Protein Requirements and how much protein you really need in a day.
Make Breakfast Count:
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and can be an excellent source of protein if you include a few of these simple ideas:
- A power smoothie combining a scoop of protein powder (20 grams of protein), water, coconut or almond milk, fresh or frozen fruit, walnuts, chia seeds and ice – sometimes a ½ cup of Greek yogurt too.
- Oatmeal (6 grams of protein) with chopped walnuts for added protein and fresh berries or banana.
- Peanut butter (4 grams of protein per tbsp.) on high-protein toast with a banana.
- Greek yogurt (10 grams of protein per ½ cup) topped with fresh fruit.
- Black bean and cheese quesadillas
Salads/Soups & Pasta Bowls:
Say goodbye to airy-fairy salads of iceberg lettuce with one lonely cherry tomato on top. Instead try some of my favorites or toss a combination of some of these quality vegetarian protein sources into a salad, soup, or onto a bed of brown rice, quinoa, or pasta for a protein-rich meal. Better yet, set up your ingredients salad bar style and let everyone help themselves. My kids, though they’re both teenagers, still love when I do this.
- 1 chopped hard-boiled organic egg (6 grams of protein)
- Cashews (6 grams per 1/4 cup)
- Sunflower seeds (7 grams per 1/4 cup)
- Pumpkin seeds – also a good source of iron (6 grams per 1/2 cup)
- Organic cottage cheese (15 grams of protein per half cup)
- Marinated, stir-fried firm tofu (10 grams of protein per 1/2 cup)
- Black beans (7 grams of protein per half cup)
- Chick peas (7 grams of protein per 1/2 cup)
- Quinoa (8 grams per cup)
- Tempeh (buy it marinated and stir-fry it gently (15 grams per ½ cup)
- An ounce of cheese cubed or grated (5-10 grams depending on the variety)
I was hesitant at first, but finding a protein powder that’s high in protein and low in sugar is a game-changer. After a workout for example, I can toss one scoop of protein powder into the blender with some fresh fruit, water and ice, and get an easy 20 grams. My current favourite is the new Boomer Nutrition vanilla flavour. Don’t believe for a minute that you’re limited to drinking protein powder in shakes or smoothies – try adding it to dishes you cook and favorite baked goods too.