We can’t all eat sirloin steaks every day and protein bars can be pricey. There are plenty of options out there that are great for your health and wallet.
Our awareness of the benefits of protein has never been greater. Back in the day if there wasn’t a protein source in our meals we’d just shrug and figure to get some next time. Eat an egg or something. I had a steak last week…
Nowadays everyone from pro athletes to Sunday morning joggers are cheerfully obsessed with the precious nutrient. For good reason – apart from playing a major role in building muscle, protein helps muscle recovery and is crucial for bone strength, especially for seniors.
Most people aim to include some kind of protein with their main meals and plenty more consume protein in some form with every meal.
However it ain’t cheap. Protein bar and powder manufacturers are making a tidy fortune and you can only eat so much (if any) chicken. Beef is a luxury for many as is popping out to a sushi restaurant.
Fear not, there are plenty of alternatives – some of them obvious, others not so much. Best of all these protein source are affordable and can be eaten in a variety of ways.
The protein heavyweights of the vegetable world, beans are an excellent source of the good stuff. Edamame beans are especially impressive. A 150g cup of edamame will give you about 18g of protein which is roughly on par with a chicken breast.
If edamame beans are hard to come by then grab some lentils, chick peas or kidney beans. All are not only a rich protein source but quite versatile in the kitchen. You can cook tons of stuff with beans. Add them to a stew, curry or soup, mix them in with pasta – you get the idea. If that’s too much effort you can just stand in the kitchen eating them from the can with a spoon, same result.
If you’re not already munching on ahem…nuts every day, then time you did. Almonds are the top dog here with a modest handful containing around 7g of protein. Almonds are great for plenty of reasons and protein is one of them.
They can be a tad pricey but walnuts, peanuts and cashews are perfect alternatives. Nuts are the ideal in between meal snacks – high in protein, a great antioxidant (preventing disease) and they fill you!
Tofu for you
Often overlooked or not understood, tofu is a go-to for those looking for protein variety. Basically soy bean curd, tofu can be eaten in a variety of ways which adds to its appeal. 100g will give ou around 8-10g of protein which is not to be sneezed at. You can throw it into a salad, add it to a stir fry or even a soup. Avocado and tofu get along famously and make a great team.
Best of all – you guessed it. Tofu is affordable and easy to find.
Say cottage cheese
Cheeses are known for their impressive protein levels but many steer away in fear of the calorie count. Well don’t. Come back to cheese, all is forgiven.
There is an abundance of healthy, low fat (yes) high protein cheeses to wolf down. Mozarella, feta and cottage cheeses are all good options. Cottage cheese is probably the healthiest – per 100g you’ll get around 15g of protein with a measly 5g of fat. And if it’s a protein kick you really want, then brace yourself…per 100g Mighty Mozarella weighs in at around 26g of protein! Much better with a glass of wine than a protein bar.
Can tuna can deliver
Another excellent option for: (A) those who can’t be bothered cooking fish (B) those who want an affordable, versatile food high in protein and ( C) those that like tuna.
Let’s face it – there’s no sitting on the fence with tuna. Either you love it or dry retch at it. If you’re the latter you might want to reconsider and start forcing yourself to love it because canned tuna has around 26g of protein per 100g and fits everyone’s budget.
Even snobs who look down their noses on canned foods would do well to embrace it. Canned tuna now comes in a variety of flavors an styles and can be eaten with pretty much anything, bar ice cream – although it’s probably been done.
You may have forgotten about some of these protein powerhouses or never really given them a go.
Of course by all means, keep eating your lean meats, eggs and seafood. Enjoy your steaks and probably overpriced protein bars and powders. But keep your options open.
Why not mix it up and expand your choices? Your taste buds will be forever grateful.