Sep 23, 2021
7 Surprising Sources of Protein for a More Interesting Diet
Meat, eggs, tofu, and nuts are generally the food items that spring to mind when considering protein choices, but your diet does not have to be so limited. Relying on these food items and categories is boring, and it can feel restricting, which is why it is beneficial to experiment with other more surprising protein sources.
The best protein sources typically come from meat sources; for example, a piece of chicken contains approximately 54 grams of protein, and a steak has 62. Vegetarian options of protein, like tofu, typically offer around 10 grams. While meat is the superior provider, do you really need 50 grams or better per serving to meet your daily needs?
Experts recommend an individual receive between 46 and 56 grams of protein per day to maintain a healthy diet. With such modest expectations, a person can consume their entire protein requirement with a single piece of chicken or steak. However, a more productive way of managing your protein intake is by dividing it throughout the day, allowing your body a constant energy source.
You can be more adventurous with your protein choices, especially when you understand nutritional requirements. Consider the following seven protein-packed options if you want more choices than a turkey sandwich or rollup for lunch.
Many people overlook seaweed as a nutritious food source. Seaweed contains nine grams of protein per cup, but it can be challenging to consume a cup-sized portion. Instead of trying to consume large amounts of seaweed, try crumbling nori sheets into a salad.
2. Chia Seeds
While chia seeds are a popular choice for boosting fiber intake — they contain 11 grams of fiber — they also have four grams of protein per serving (2 tbsp). The best part of this protein source is how it can combine with most breakfast options, like oatmeal, yogurt, etc.
3. Green Peas
Do you like green peas? The flavorful little vegetable balls have a generous eight grams of protein per one-cup serving. However, do not confuse green peas for snow or snap peas because they do not pack the same nutrient punch. The best thing is you can find green peas year-round.
4. Cottage Cheese
If you love cottage cheese, you are in for a big surprise. A heaping helping of the dairy product — one and a quarter cup — is worth 35 grams of protein. Cottage cheese makes an excellent breakfast option, especially when paired with berries. You can also use it as a substitute for ricotta cheese in lasagna or other entrees.
5. Spinach and Leafy Greens
Everyone knows vegetables are good for you, but did you know that leafy greens, especially spinach, can provide five grams of protein per one-cup serving. The marvelous thing about spinach, kale, and other leafy greens is their blend-ability, making them perfect additions to smoothies.
Quinoa is an excellent source of fiber, offering five grams per serving, but it is also a valuable source of protein, with eight grams per serving. The powerhouse super-food should take the place of brown or white rice for a more nutrient-dense side.
7. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is an excellent post-workout snack because it contains 18 grams of protein in about half a cup. However, choose Greek yogurt options without the added flavors for the healthiest protein option.
Protein is essential to a healthy diet, but there is no reason you need to stick to the same boring choices of meat, eggs, tofu, and nuts. Be adventurous and try one of the above options for a change.