To put it simply, I absolutely adore carbohydrates. Bread and pasta are a huge part of my everyday meals, making up about 90 percent of what I eat. That’s why one of my New Year’s resolutions is to boost my protein intake. Besides aiming for more balanced meals and reducing light dinners, there are numerous advantages to increasing protein in your diet. Studies have shown that diets rich in protein help build muscle mass, enhance bone health, increase metabolism, and offer many more benefits. However, increasing protein consumption can be challenging, especially for vegans, vegetarians, or those tired of eating chicken (like me). If you’re seeking simple ways to up your protein intake without meat, read on for 10 effortless suggestions on how to incorporate protein into your diet.

1. Incorporate protein powder into baked goods

Believe it or not, there are numerous creative ways to enjoy protein powder beyond just mixing it in a shaker. Health coach and food blogger Brittany Mullins from Eating Bird Food suggests adding protein to desserts to help stabilize blood sugar levels after eating sweets. To include protein powder in baked goods, simply substitute some or all of the flour in a recipe with protein powder.

2. Exchange white rice for wild rice

If you’re only consuming white rice as a side dish, you’re missing out on extra protein and nutrients. Unlike white rice, wild rice retains its bran, making it rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. While 1 cup of white rice contains about 4 grams of protein, wild rice boasts 24 grams. This straightforward switch can significantly help you reach your daily protein targets.

3. Incorporate cottage cheese into recipes

If you’ve been scrolling through TikTok, you’ve probably noticed chefs like Meredith Hayden from Wishbone Kitchen enjoying cottage cheese. Some TikTokers are snacking on cottage cheese with fruits and veggies, while others are adding it to recipes to boost protein content. Cottage cheese can be seamlessly blended into soups or pasta sauces, making these dishes more nutritious.

4. Snack on nuts

As Regina George sort of said, “Is peanut butter a carb?” It’s not. However, it is loaded with protein and healthy fats. That’s why nuts such as peanuts, almonds, and pistachios make fantastic snacks—they are packed with vitamins, minerals, and protein. Pair them with cheese and an apple for a satisfying and balanced snack that will keep you full throughout the afternoon.

5. Sprinkle nutritional yeast

If you want a fast and simple way to increase protein in your daily snacks and meals without much effort, consider sprinkling them with nutritional yeast. Due to its cheesy flavor, it’s great on popcorn, pasta, or when added to sauces or soups.

6. Increase legume intake

If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you’re already aware of the importance of beans and lentils in your diet. Beans offer around 15 grams of protein per cup, along with fiber, iron, and potassium. Similarly, lentils provide 18 grams of protein and are beneficial for gut health.

7. Opt for eggs at breakfast

Eggs for breakfast may not be groundbreaking, but they are a morning essential for good reason. Not only are they a good protein source, but studies indicate that they also contain essential amino acids and support muscle health. Their protein content helps you stay satiated for longer.

8. Prepare a parfait

If you lean towards sweet rather than savory flavors (like me), here’s some good news: Yogurt is rich in protein. Choose high-protein options like Greek yogurt or Icelandic yogurt (also known as skyr) as they typically contain around 15-20 grams of protein, making them ideal for breakfast or a snack. To make it a well-rounded meal, add berries and granola for additional nutrients.

9. Integrate spirulina into your beverages

A visit to your local smoothie joint will likely reveal spirulina on the menu. This blue-green algae is known for its protein and essential nutrients. Two tablespoons of spirulina provide 8 grams of protein along with high levels of magnesium and potassium. Blend it into your morning smoothie, matcha green tea, or citrusy cocktail for an extra protein boost.

10. Experiment with meat alternatives

Meat substitutes often get a bad rep for taste and texture or are perceived as only for vegans and vegetarians. However, they are a great choice for those wanting to up their protein intake without consuming more meat. Common plant-based meat alternatives like tofu, tempeh, and seitan can be easily seasoned to mimic any meat-centric dish. Keep an eye on sodium levels and additives like sugars and artificial coloring in meat substitutes—opt for plain, organic tofu or tempeh instead of highly processed “burgers” or “nuggets”.


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