7 Ways to Add Protein to Foods
Posted by Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD, FAND
Getting enough protein at meals isn’t usually difficult, especially if your meal centers around a protein-rich piece of chicken or fish. But when your menu features items that may not be as protein-rich – like soups or pasta dishes, for example – you might want to consider some add-ins to provide a protein boost to your meal.
In order to work more protein into your day, protein-rich eggs, dairy products, protein powders, beans and tofu can all be used to add more protein to everyday dishes. Here are some ways to use these foods to help you meet your protein goals at every meal.
7 Ways to Add More Protein To Everyday Dishes
- Protein powder is a natural in smoothies, but you can also stir 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. Or, 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.
- Eggs are super-versatile protein boosters and a single egg, or two whites, contributes about 7 grams of protein. Hard-boiled eggs are great to keep around to round out a snack, to chop into a tossed salad, slice onto a sandwich or as a source of protein in a vegetable curry. You can give a protein boost to soup by slowly pouring beaten eggs into simmering broth (they’ll cook almost immediately). Or, try stirring some egg whites into oatmeal as it cooks – it will help thicken up the cereal, but won’t change the flavor.
- Nonfat cottage cheese offers up a good boost of protein along with bone-building calcium. You can stir cottage cheese into cooked scrambled eggs, casseroles, mashed potatoes or pasta dishes; or, try whirling it in the blender with beans for a high-protein dip for raw veggies. You can give baked goods a protein boost by sneaking some cottage cheese into your recipes for pancakes, waffles and muffins.
- Milk and soy milk (not almond or rice milk, which have very little protein) can replace other liquids called for in recipes and boost the protein. Depending on the recipe, milk can often stand in for broth, juice or wine in lots of dishes. Make your oatmeal with milk instead of water, and you’ll get an extra 7 to 10 grams of protein, or give soups a creamy protein boost by substituting milk for part of the broth or water.
- Beans are a good source of protein and can be added either whole or mashed to foods like soups, stews, casseroles, pasta sauces, curries, salads or guacamole. Hummus can be used as a spread for sandwiches or wraps to add some extra protein, or it can be thinned down with a little water and used as a salad dressing. Mild-tasting white beans can even be added to protein shakes – their flavor is hardly noticeable, and beans add a thick, creamy texture.
- Tofu has such a mild flavor that it can be sneaked into a lot of dishes for a protein boost. You can add it to protein shakes, or blend it until smooth and add to sauces, casseroles, eggs and pasta dishes, or use as a base for a healthy dip for veggies. You can also cut firm tofu into cubes and add to salads, soups and stir-fries.
- 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. 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.
Susan Bowerman is Director of Nutrition Training at Herbalife. Susan is a Registered Dietitian and a Board-Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.
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