Protein

I constantly struggle with getting enough protein in my diet. I know that I don’t really get enough and I should be including more, but it’s just not something that’s easy for me to add. In addition, meat just isn’t something I crave, so I have to find other ways to get it and I’m coming up short on ways to do that.

Most days I have oatmeal for breakfast, then a snack mid-morning, a big salad from the salad bar at work (and I’ve recently started adding some of the chicken breast and sliced hard boiled eggs to my salad) a mid-afternoon snack, dinner, and sometimes an after-dinner snack.

Usually, for the last 10 years, each of those non-meal snacks for me has been fruit. Fruit is easy, it’s readily available, it’s portable and packs into a lunch box with no fuss, and it doesn’t require any utensils. Downside: fruit doesn’t generally include any protein. So that’s three “meals” in my day with no protein. The more I read the more I have started thinking that as my body ages (I’m 40 now), the more it needs small amounts of protein with every meal, including snacks.

But figuring out how has been a real struggle. Yogurt or cottage cheese in my lunch box for two of those snacks is a possibility, but it requires little tupperware containers, so that’s a hassle. String cheese might be an option but it seems to defy my simple, non-processed foods guideline. Actually, I’m not sure on that one, as I don’t know much about the relative processing necessary to create it. Nuts are…problematic. I love nuts – almonds, peanuts, cashews, pecans, really, any kind of nuts are great – bring it on! But…nuts are very high in calories so I have to extremely careful about how many I eat. A very small handful is the limit for a snack, but you know my problem is and always has been portion size. I’m not good with foods that you have to portion out strictly (part of why I love fruits and veggies so much – it’s hard to go overboard with them, they’re mostly water!), because I always want to add just a little bit more to my portion. I can’t be trusted with that, and it’s not like you can buy them in single-serving portions.  Same thing with regular cheese – it’s got a high caloric density so I would have to work really hard on making very small portions for me, and I think that I’d be left feeling deprived, because I love cheese so much and just eating a “serving” – a cube one inch on a side – seems so measly.

So this week it’s been little containers of yogurt or cottage cheese. Maybe I’ll look into a few strips of jerky. I’m open to other ideas on how to get more protein into my workday. New ways to look at these small portions of the protein forms I’ve mentioned would also be great. How do you get protein into your meals and snacks? Which forms am I overlooking?

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14 Responses to “Protein”

  1. Mary Says:

    Trader Joes sells single serving bags of almonds, cashews, and a few nut mixes. When I loved closer to TJs, I would get those for my afternoon snacks.

  2. Laura W Says:

    Hi, I just wanted to ask if you’ve ever tried to make your own string cheese, so you can cut out any processing? It’s not too complicated and I’ve found it’s a great way to get protein in my meals. Still working on balancing it all out. 🙂 I included a link to one that might interest you. Good luck!

    http://commonsensehome.com/fresh-homemade-mozzarella-cheese-in-30-minutes/

  3. Laura W Says:

    You’re welcome! I hope you’ll let us know how it goes for you! 🙂

  4. woodlandwhimsy Says:

    I’ve always found hard boiled eggs to be an easy and pretty convenient protein snack.

  5. Dee Says:

    Ditto on the portion-controlled Trader Joe’s single serving bags (ca. 200 calories per); also try hummus (get the lowfat kind at TJ’s; less oil) which you can use with veggies or rice crackers. Canned fish (sardines, anchovies, tuna, etc). are good, too!

  6. disappearingwoman Says:

    I do lots of strength training and have to fight to get the protein that I need, too. I’m lactose intolerant, so that leaves out cheese and cottage cheese. However, I am able to eat yogurt and drink soymilk. I usually have tuna, or scrambled eggs (1 cup of Eggbeaters–20 grams of protein, 100 cals) for lunch. I always have either chicken or fish for dinner. As far as snacks are concerned, a serving of turkey jerky has 13 grams of protein. Additionally, I still drink 2 Optifast shakes per day that have 14 grams of protein each. Boca soy burgers also have 15 grams and are only 90 calories–I don’t use a bun. I wish I could think of more things, too. 🙂

  7. Kaaren Says:

    Hard boiled eggs! Boil (and even peel) a dozen at a time to keep it simple.
    I also buy non-sulfide sliced turkey or cook ahead a few turkey cutlets or chicken breasts and roll slices into romaine leaves with a little mustard. Yum.

    • Kaaren Says:

      Oh! Also just thought of little muffin tin fritattas… You can make a bunch up and freeze them, then pop them in the microwave…

  8. uncoveringfood Says:

    I know you have done HMR in the past (it’s how I found your blog I think) — have you considered reintegrating protein shakes back as snacks? I carry a bottle of vitamin water zero and a shake packet when traveling and I have a 160 calorie high protein and high volume snack.

    Another thought would be hard-boiled eggs which I think some other people mentioned.

    Or what about creating a bean dip to dip veggies in?

  9. Donna Says:

    The “Babybel Light” small cheeses that they sell at TJ’s might help. They also sell 1 oz bries. If you only take one with you, then you won’t overdo.

  10. DrKoolAimzZ Says:

    I laughed while reading the comments for this post. DO ALL OF THESE THINGS!!
    In fact, I ate three hard-boiled eggwhites while reading this! Also beans! A bean with a grain makes a great protein, is filling, and fairly low calorie. Quinoa is the preferred grain, soybeans the bean!

  11. vera Says:

    I don’t eat nuts for protein, I eat them for healthy fat. Plain greek yogurt is good for snacks, I usually add 1/2 cup of berries, sometime slivered almonds, and honey to taste. My afternoon snack is usually string cheese or the individual packages of medium cheddar (built in portion control), a piece of fruit, and if I’m feeling the need 3-4 dry roasted almonds (to add a little healthy fat to the meal).

    In the past I made home-made jerky, beef and turkey. I did homemade as I wanted the protein without the salt. It’s really easy to make, and you can season to taste.


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