How to Get More Protein in Your Diet: 3 Simple Tips to Help Increase Your Protein Intake by Susan Bowerman, M.S., R.D., CSSD, CSOWM, FAND
The word protein is derived from the Greek word protos, meaning "first rank or position," in recognition of how important protein is to our overall well-being. It is a macronutrient that is an essential component that helps us feel full longer, helps maintain healthy skin, hair and nails, and aids in muscle repair and recovery and growth after a workout.
Most people think of meat, like chicken and beef, when they think of foods that contain protein, but there are many non-meat options for getting this critical nutrient throughout your day. In addition to dairy products, plant-based proteins from products like beans or protein powders can boost protein in the diet. Here are simple ways to increase your protein intake:
- Protein powder is a common ingredient in smoothies, but have you ever considered stirring protein powder into hot cereals, scrambled eggs, cottage cheese or yogurt? You can also "power up" your baked goods by adding protein powder to your recipes for items like bran muffins, whole-grain pancakes or banana bread. If you like gourmet coffee and tea beverages, try making a "protein chai" blend vanilla protein powder into a smooth paste with a little water, then top off with hot tea and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
- Beans are a delicious plant-based protein addition to soups, curries and salads. Baking may be the last way you ever intended to use beans, but you can use chickpeas, white beans and black beans to replace some of the fat in recipes for baked goods.
- Plain, nonfat yogurt adds a tangy protein boost to protein shakes, oatmeal, soups, sauces and curries. If you're adding to hot foods, stir in at the last minute to prevent it from curdling. Plain yogurt can also replace mayonnaise in tuna, chicken or egg salads and can be used to replace some of the fat in baked goods. Even salad dressing can get a protein boost from yogurt – whisk plain nonfat yogurt with salt, pepper, garlic, herbs and a drizzle of olive oil for a tangy dressing for your greens.
No matter what you choose to make at home, it's important to remember that being open to trying new things and cooking with color and variety. Healthy doesn't have to be boring.
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