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From the Peanut Gallery: Boosting Protein Intake

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Penny Pinching Epicure: From the Peanut Gallery: Boosting Protein Intake

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

From the Peanut Gallery: Boosting Protein Intake

Note: This is the inaugural post in a new post category, "From the Peanut Gallery," in which I will answer questions I have received from my readers. If you have a question you'd like me to answer, please let me know, either by leaving a comment or by tweeting me @RellaBellaK!

This question is from my friend JG:

I really want to start concentrating on eating more protein, but I don't know what that ACTUALLY means in terms of what to make.

JG, the truth is, there are a lot of very simple ways to boost your protein intake without having to deliberately go out of your way to do so. Here are a few tips and recipes.

Modify your existing routine rather than radically changing your diet.
Do you frequently eat salads for lunch? Do you eat a lot of pasta for dinner? Instead of radically changing how you eat (much less likely you'll stick to it), you can very easily add an extra kick of protein to your regular routine.

Easy ways to add protein: Legumes like chickpeas, kidney beans, corn, or lentils; tofu or edamame; lean proteins like salmon, tuna, chicken or beef; hard boiled eggs; a handful of nuts; dairy like goat or feta cheese.

When I make tofu, chicken, or fish for dinner, I'll frequently put some aside for the following day's and have it over mixed baby greens with some other fresh veggies. That way, I don't feel like I'm eating leftovers, and I made 2 meals in one :)

These chicken, tofu, and fish recipes are great the next day.

Grains have protein.
Many people don't realize that grains can have a lot of protein. Oats, wild rice, millet, quinoa (my favorite), and barley all have a significant amount of protein. Eat oatmeal with a dollop of Greek yogurt for breakfast, and make a pot of quinoa to go with dinner. Protein is hiding in places you never knew!

Jazzed-Up Breakfast Oatmeal

1 serving size of oatmeal
hot water
1 apple (or peach, strawberries, etc.), chopped
fat free Greek yogurt
2 pecans or almonds, crushed

Cook one serving size of oatmeal according to package directions. Stir in apple, and garnish with a nice dollop of Greek yogurt, a drizzle of honey, and a sprinkle of cinnamon and nuts.

Easy Quinoa

2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup quinoa
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
pinch of pepper

Place ingredients in a small stock pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low flame and cook 10-12 minutes, until quinoa is tender and liquid has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Dairy is your friend.
Well, not mine. But if you don't have a milk allergy, dairy is a great way to get protein without a lot of fat or calories. Fat free yogurt or greek yogurt, fat free cottage cheese, low-fat string cheese, even a glass of milk gives you a lot of protein (or go back to eating that bowl of cereal and milk for breakfast)! And these aren't hard on your wallet either :)

If you are a lactard like myself, you can get protein from any of the other categories I've listed here, and also by drinking soy milk or almond milk.

Be a Squirrel.
Well, not literally. But nuts and seeds have a lot of protein, although also frequently a lot of fat, so make sure to eat in moderation. Mix up a healthy trail mix of assorted dried fruit and nuts (much cheaper to buy the separate components and create it yourself, plus you get to put in only the things you like!).

Snack Smartly.
A well-rounded snack should have protein, fiber, and a little in the carb area. Having an apple for a snack? Eat it with 1 Tbsp of peanut butter or 1/2 cup of fat free cottage cheese. Munching on baby carrots or carrot sticks? Eat them with a few Tbsp of chumus or a small handful of almonds (for more snack ideas, see my previous post).

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Blogger Avi said...

What's the best (or easiest) place to get Greek Yogurt? What is Greek Yogurt exactly?

January 12, 2010 at 11:42 AM  
Blogger Cinderella said...

Hi Avi,

Thanks for your question! Greek yogurt is a thick yogurt made of sheep's milk, rather than regular yogurt like we are used to here in the US (made with cow's milk). It is thick and creamy and comes in a variety of fat contents (and the fat free still tastes nice and rich!).

Greek yogurt is also usually unsweetened and tart, so you can add your own additions to make it as sweet or savory as you like. It can come in a variety of flavors, although I am partial to the plain with just a drizzle of honey.

You can get Greek yogurt at most grocery stores; it may be in the "health food" section if there is one. You can get a number of different varieties at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and other more specialty stores.

January 12, 2010 at 12:19 PM  
Blogger Becca said...

kosher greek yogurt - the trader joes brand is kosher (i forget which one) and the stonyfield farm greek yogurt (called Oikos or something similar) and (i think) the Chobani are OU. i've seen it around DC at giant, safeway, etc.

my understanding is that greek yogurt is further strained to make it thicker and creamier. its delicious!

January 13, 2010 at 11:13 AM  

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