The Silly Nutrition Undergrad

Posts Tagged ‘protein

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A while ago, Craig from Gettin-Ripped asked me for my thoughts on protein and here’s my response.

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What is the first word that appears in your mind when I say “protein“? Did the word “meat” pop up in your mind instantly?

Indeed, meat is a key protein source for many people, but there are actually many other great protein options out there that have long been overlooked (or forgotten). In this post, I’ll like to introduce you to my top 5 protein food choices:

Tofu

150g tofu is roughly a serving of meat alternative under Canada’s Food Guide for Healthy Eating. Tofu is not only rich in protein, it can also a good source of iron and calcium. A serving of firm tofu contains about 11g protein, 30% of the daily value for calcium and 15% of the daily value for iron. Plus, tofu is plant-based, so you don’t have to worry about consuming too much saturated fats or cholesterol when you golf down that block of tofu (you won’t have to picture your arteries getting plugged up by blobs of floating fat in your blood vessels! Yay!) To find out more about the awesome health powers of tofu, visit WHFoods: Tofu. Miso-marinated tofu (same method as mis0-marinated eggplant) makes a delicious main dish for a simple weekday dinner, and make sure you grill extra so you have some tofu left for next day’s lunch (great on a bed of brown rice or a special spinach salad topping).

Beans and legumes

Beans and legumes is another great protein-rich meat alternative. A 3/4 cup portion size counts as one serving, which contains about 8g – 14g protein, nearly 30% of the daily value for iron, and a whole lot of fiber! A serving will give you about10 – 13g of fiber — that’s a huge boost in helping you to get the recommended daily fiber dose of 25g). Fiber has multiple health benefits. The obvious benefit of keeping you regular and helping your body to maintain good digestive health. Fiber can also help to slow down digestion and hence plays a role in regulating blood sugar level. It will keep you full for longer, help to diminish the craving for nibbling and avoid the evil sugar spike that makes you tired and sleepy. Among all beans and legumes, my favourite choice is edamame. Shelled edamame comes in convenient frozen packages. So whenever you need a protein quick-fix, you  simply take it out from the freezer and throw it into whatever you’re cooking without needing to thaw or do any preparation beforehand. How convenient! Try adding edamame to tofu oatmeal for an additional protein punch to jumpstart your morning.

Eggs

Eggs are the ultimate fuss-free, healthy and protein-rich on-the-go snack. They can be prepared within minutes and it can be incorporated into different dishes. The simplest way to enjoy eggs is to cook up a big batch of hard-boiled eggs and keep them in the fridge (they keep well for about a week). Then, when you’re hungry after a hard workout, you can easily open the fridge and get a quick protein boost by peeling some eggs. Reaching for eggs instead of going for a protein bar will satisfied your protein needs (each egg contains about 5.5g protein) and provide additional good-for-you nutrients. In particular, eggs is an excellent source of lutein, which is an important nutrient that helps to maintain eye health and  skin health. Although lutein can be found in other sources, the lutein found in eggs is much more bioavailable (a.k.a. the body can readily access the lutein in eggs, absorb it and use it). For more information on eggs, visit WHFoods: Eggs.

Yogurt

An 8oz container will give you about 10 – 14 grams of protein, and it will also count as a dairy serving, fulfilling your calcium needs for strong bones and teeth. I prefer yogurt over other dairy foods because it is a fermented dairy product that has added bacterial culture. These bacteria helps to improve the overall health of the digestive system by altering the environment of the small intestine so that it favours the growth of the “good” bacteria and makes it less desirable for the “harmful” bacteria to cultivate. To get optimal health benefits from yogurt, make sure to choose yogurt with probiotics and consume it on a regular basis to keep the digestive system healthy! To get an extra protein boost, try topping low-fat, plain probiotic yogurt with granola or nuts. To learn more about the goodness of yogurt, visit WHFoods: Yogurt.

Nuts / nut butter

I’ve written an extensive article on the goodness of nuts before — nuts are seriously that good for you that they deserve a separate post dedicated to praising them! I really enjoy tossing in a quarter cup of nuts into my salad or my morning cereal because they give an extra crunch plus an additional flavour. Nuts are also easy to carry around – I like to pack a small handful of nuts with me when I’m on the road so when I get hungry, I can munch on nuts instead of blindly rushing into a fast food store around the corner. Adding in a quarter cup of nuts or two tablespoons of nut butter is an easy way to add 4g – 5g protein to your diet. Honestly go nuts with nuts! 🙂

There you go! My top five protein choices.

At this point you may think I dislike meat? No, no, no! I enjoy meat, but I just tend to choose these foods more often because they offer a lot more than just protein.


I find that these foods will not only satisfy my protein needs, but also give a dramatic nutritional boost, making it a lot more easier for me to adopt a healthier lifestyle.Next time you dive into your huge steak thinking it’s the only way to get enough protein, look around and think again! Have a yogurt with nuts, or serve beans as a side dish — try to get protein from different sources.

Expand your diet, get healthier!

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The Silly Nutrition Undergrad has moved. Come to Juicy Fresh Bites for new content on health and nutrition!

Running from one place to another place with nothing to eat? Instead of wasting precious time lining up at a fast food joint, why not try preparing your own healthy snacks to keep your keep your energy level up and hunger level down!

Yogurt + Granola

Try to pair a small container of low-fat yogurt with homemade granola for a delicious, nutrient-dense snack. Try to choose plain yogurt to avoid the sugar-laden and chemical-filled fruit yogurts. Buying plain yogurt also gives you more variety – you can choose to add different toppings to make it interesting. Try a drizzle of honey, handful of dried cranberries / raisins, some fresh fruits, or even a spoonful of nuts to add new dimensions!

Crackers + Cheese

All you need to do is buy some cheese, cut it into thin slices and put them between crackers and you have prepared a tasty, crunchy, cheesy snack for yourself! Minimal preparation yet very flavourful! Try buying whole wheat crackers for a chewy and nutty flavour. To make it even more interesting, try buying sharp-tasting cheese, such as Old Cheddar. For Brie cheese for a creamier texture, or try Bleu cheese for a sharp, intense experience!

Bite-sized Veggies with Dip

When you prepare vegetables for dinner, try washing and cutting up some extra and put them in ziploc bags or tupperware so when you’re in a hurry, you can just grab and go! Some good options include celery sticks, broccoli florets, red pepper slices and carrot sticks. Along with your veggies, pack some dip, such as hummus, peanut butter, or cottage cheese to make the veggies a little more tasty.

DIY Fruit Cup

Cut fruits into cubes and mix them into a leakproof tupperware container for a fresh, flavourful DIY fruit cup. Mix together some crunchy fruits (Ex. Apples) with some soft fruits (ex. Kiwi), and toss them with some seasonal fruits (Ex. Barlett pears) or add in your favourite fruits to make the fruit salad super yummy and super healthy! To prepare browning of fruits, make sure you dip them into lemon water or else they will look less appealing over time! For simplicity sake, you can also just wash a fruit and chow down when you hungry as well! Even less cutting and cleaning up, but just as enjoyable and nutritious.

Nuts / Trail Mix

It’s super easy to make your own trail mix. Throw a large handful of whatever dry cereal you have on hand (or try toasting rolled oats), then add in a bunch of nuts and some dried fruits, and you’re all set to go! To boost the health aspects of your trail mix, try choosing cereal is that higher in fiber and low in sugar.

Making these healthy snacks only take about 5-10 minutes but when you’re running late for class, that could mean disaster! So make sure you plan ahead, ideally the night before or even try mapping out your snacking plan during the weekend when you have more time.

Question: What’s your favourite healthy snack when you are on the run?

Bonus: Make your own granola!

Want to avoid the store-bought granola that is loaded with sugars and oil? Then, try making your own version! Here‘s my all time favourite recipe. It doesn’t ask you to add in a lot of sugar and oil, but it has a very unique sweetness that comes from the coconut shreds and a lot of heart-healthy fats from the cashews and almonds. Plus it’s super easy to make, just toss all the ingredients together, mix well and toast it in the oven for an hour. Then when you room starts to smell heavenly, you’ll know it’s ready! Once you try it once, I guarantee you will never buy store-bought granola ever again!

Question: What’s your favourite healthy snack when you are on the run?