3 Secrets to Getting Plenty of Protein—Without All the Meat
There are lots of way to get the protein your body needs, without visiting the butcher counter.
Getting enough protein is a common concern that comes up when someone expresses that they’re trying to eat less meat, or even considering going vegetarian or vegan. Too often, it's assumed that animal protein is the only way to include protein in your diet. But there are many plant-based protein sources of protein, not to mention the adaptable affordable egg. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, plant-based options tend to be less expensive and offer more health benefits. So if you’re giving meat a break or simply want to eat less of it, here are three easy ways to make sure you’re getting enough protein.
Incorporate quinoa and legumes into salads, soups, and stews as a main or side dishes. Quinoa, which is actually a seed prepared like a grain, contains more protein than any other grain. It’s considered to be a complete protein because it contains all the essential amino acids our bodies need. It cooks fast and it is lower in carbohydrates than most grains. Swap rice for quinoa in burritos, serve it with sweet potatoes and kale for a superfood trifecta, or have it for breakfast.
Legumes like chickpeas, lentils, and beans are rich in protein, readily available, and a major time-saver since they can be found canned in supermarkets. The options are endless: crispy fritters tucked into a pita or a family-friendly soup. Chickpeas are just as versatile. Try them roasted and crispy, or double down with chickpeas and quinoa in this salad. Surely you have cans of beans in your pantry, which means protein at the ready. Try one or all of these five recipes that start with a can of beans.
Snack on or top meals with nuts and seeds. Almonds, pistachios, cashews, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, and chia seeds are all high in protein. They're super tasty atop a bowl of oatmeal or added to salads, grain bowls, and roasted vegetables. Try this Brussels sprouts salad with almonds or give beets new life with pistachios. Chia pudding is also a great way to incorporate this seed into your diet and incredibly easy to make for a satisfying protein-packed snack.
Put an egg on it. There's no need to tell you that eggs work on more than just breakfast, but it's worth reminding that they can provide a protein boost to a meal with little or no existing protein. Serve up fried, poached, boiled, or scrambled eggs on avocado toast, ramen, or a grain bowl. Go for pasture-raised eggs at the supermarket since they’re more nutritious than conventional eggs.