Today on SoS: a guest post from Heather (another one!) on finding protein sources!!
Heather Calcote is a Registered Dietitian (RD), and manages the blog Dietitian on the Run. She loves to experiment in the kitchen, while training for the next marathon or upcoming race, and exploring the city of DC.
Heather recently wrote a great series of posts on her personal food-philosophies; it’s always interesting to read why some people do/don’t eat a variety of things. At the time, I was gradually making changes too. Between reading “Eating Animals”, watching “Food Inc” and doing some research on the widely popular “Meatless Monday” trend, I have been discovering some often forgotten sources of protein to substitute out meat/poultry from my daily intake.
As I begin my training cycle for Marathon #2, getting adequate protein into my muscles and tissues every day will be vital for successful runs. With that in mind, it was time to get creative! Most people associate animal products with “protein”, and rightfully so. However, what most people don’t know is that this nutrient is hiding among many other every-day foods!
Here is a list of foods I turn to for Protein (in grams, g, per serving):
- Quinoa – An easy to cook grain that provides up to 8g per cup (cooked)
- Chick Peas – Great for bulking up salads or wraps, or creating homemade hummus, with 16 g per 7 oz serving
- Tempeh or Tofu – Often used as “meat” substitutes due to their texture and flexibility. Tofu offers around 10 g per serving (5 oz), while Tempeh provides ~25g (per 5 oz).
- Beans / Lentils – Another great way to add to salads, or cooked/baked for a side entrée, these plant-based sources add 10-15g per cup
- Dairy Products – While some vegetarians exclude this option, if it’s part of your intake, 1 cup of milk contributes 9-10g, 1 ounce of cheese provides 6-8g, and yogurt can add anywhere from 6-22g (Greek Yogurt is much higher in protein).
- Bread – While often thought of as purely carbohydrates, this starch also adds 5-10g per 2 slices (check Nutrition labels for accurate counts).
- Nuts – Their protein content varies greatly by type, but tree-nuts and peanuts contain anywhere from 3-8g per 1 oz.
- Soy Milk – An alternative to dairy products, you’ll find 8g per cup. Soy milk is also used to make some cheeses and yogurts.
- Eggs – This is another item sometimes eliminated from Vegetarian diets, but if you eat them, you’ll get 7-8 g per egg.
- Vegetables – Luckily, the main source of food in a vegetarian diet also provides the most nutrients! Not only do they pack in the vitamins and minerals, most vegetables add ~2g per ½ cup serving.
The key to maintaining and adequate protein intake, while still enjoying what you eat (i.e. avoiding food boredom!) is to allow for versatility. Remember that most of these foods are delicious in a variety of ways. For example, instead of having a ½ cup of beans added to each meal, make them the star of the entrée as Bean-burgers! Instead of solely using quinoa as a pasta or rice substitution, make it sweet by adding cinnamon, nutmeg and a little brown sugar.
Even if you include meat and poultry in your diet, having this list can help you add some diversity to your weekly menus while still keeping your nutrient balance in check!
For more ways to make sure your diet is meeting all the right needs, MyPyramid.Gov has a great resource page with ideas and tips for Vegetarians, and/or low-meat menus.