Protein-Packed Meals for Active Lifestyles
Olympic athletes, weekend warriors and fitness enthusiasts alike know the vital role that protein plays in a healthy diet. Getting adequate high-quality protein is one of the best ways to enhance athletic performance—as well as to just keep us feeling good.
Why Protein Is Important
Why is protein so important? It's pretty straightforward: All of our muscles, bones, connective tissue, internal organs and hormones are made from proteins! So, protein-rich foods supply the nutrients that almost every part of the body requires in order to grow, heal, and function properly.
Maybe you already add a scoop of protein powder to your morning smoothie, or are in the habit of snacking on your favorite protein bars before or after a workout. While these are great ways to supplement your protein intake, the very best way to give your body the protein it needs is by including it in the foods you eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
An abundance of high-protein foods in your meals can help you:
Boost muscle mass
Keep your bones strong
Stabilize blood sugar levels
Maintain your ideal weight
Improve your mood
Reduce brain fog
If you're looking for some new ideas or variety in your protein-boosting game, we've got you covered here! These three protein-rich meals are as fun and delicious as they are nutritious. Bon appétit!
Breakfast of Champions
Start your day right with this omelet chock-full of high-quality protein and healthy fats.
two or three pasture-raised eggs
a handful of organic spinach
one-half of an avocado
three or four cherry tomatoes
soft-style goat cheese
2 Tablespoons organic butter or ghee
Lightly sauté the spinach and chopped tomatoes in one Tablespoon of butter or ghee. Set aside.
Chop the avocado into bite-sized pieces.
Melt the other Tablespoon of butter/ghee into a clean frying pan. Whisk the eggs together in a bowl, adding a splash of milk if desired, to soften the eggs a bit. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the eggs are firm and almost fully cooked. Shape them into an even circle.
Now, crumble some goat cheese onto half of the eggs. Then place the spinach-tomato mixture on top of the cheese, and then the avocados. Fold the other half of the eggs over onto the toppings, to form a half-moon shaped omelet. Cook for another couple of minutes, and then slide out onto a plate.
Serve with toast made from sprouted whole-grain bread, topped with butter and peanut butter or almond butter.
Why This Omelet Is Protein-Packed
Pasture-raised eggs are one of the most potent protein sources. Goat milk is more easily digested than cow's milk, for many people—but feel free to experiment with different kinds of cheese.
The avocado provides a delicious dose of healthy oil, as does the butter or ghee. And organic spinach, like all leafy greens, is an excellent vegetarian source of protein.
Soaking and sprouting whole grains allows their protein to be more easily digested—hence the suggestion for toast made from sprouted grains. And topping it with almond butter or peanut butter adds another protein boost.
A Protein-Smorgasbord Lunch
Here's how to turn a simple tossed salad into a Herculean protein-feast!
Start with a bed of your favorite lettuce: iceberg, Romaine, mixed greens and/or arugula are all excellent.
Tip: It's best to not eat large amounts of raw spinach or kale. These greens are better when they are cooked, which helps break down the tough fibers and makes their nutrients more bio-available and easily digested.
Toss your salad greens with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add a dash of sea-salt and/or freshly ground pepper if so desired.
Now, choose at least three among these delicious protein-rich toppings—more if so inspired:
Seeds: chia seeds, sunflower seeds or hemp seeds.
Nuts: almonds, walnuts or pecans.
Cheese: cottage cheese, feta cheese, blue cheese, Swiss cheese, parmesan, goat or sheep cheese.
A filet of wild-caught salmon
Top your awesome protein-rich salad with some home-made croutons if you wish—and then enjoy!
A Dinner Delight: Protein-Rich Stroganoff
Beef-mushroom stroganoff is a decadently delicious dinner dish that packs an impressive protein-punch, particularly with the revisions that we offer here.
Note: This recipe can also be made with just the mushrooms (excluding the beef) for a vegetarian option.
Begin with this classic recipe (from Betty Crocker)—but then revise in the following ways:
1. Use your favorite cut of grass-fed beef.
Grass-fed beef is one of the very best high-protein foods. A single serving will supply around 50 percent of your recommended daily value of protein, and it's also a rich source of vitamins A and E. Basically, cows that graze naturally on grass rather than eating a grain mixture produce meat that is nutritionally superior in every way.
2. Choose Shiitake mushrooms.
Among culinary mushrooms, Shiitake is a nutritional rock-star. They're also incredibly delicious! You can, of course, experiment with different kinds of mushrooms—but we'd recommend beginning with the Shiitakes, if possible.
3. Use Real Bone Broth
Use real bone broth—either home-made or a quality frozen broth—instead of "beef flavored broth." Authentic bone broth is a fantastic source of protein and also provides deep support for your digestive system.
4. Get the Probiotic Benefit of Sour Cream
Purchase a brand of sour cream that features "live active cultures"—in order to add probiotic benefit to your stroganoff sauce. Add the sour cream at the very end to avoid over-cooking it.
5. Substitute Quinoa for the Egg Noodles
One of the reasons that quinoa is such a fantastic source of protein is that it's technically not a grain, but rather a seed. So, make a kettle of quinoa to use as the stroganoff base, rather than egg noodles. This will greatly enhance the protein content of the meal—and the nutty flavor of the quinoa is a wonderful match for the rich stroganoff.
By using recipes such as these, you can ensure that your body receives the protein that it needs to stay healthy and perform at optimal levels.
Questions or comments? Feel free to leave one in the comments section below!
*Please consult with a medical professional if you have any medical issues that may be affected by the suggested activities.