Power Up With Protein!
Make these tweaks to your meals and snacks to stay energized throughout the day.
If you’ve been trying to make healthier choices this year, you’re probably striving to eat less of something. Processed snack foods, sugary drinks, or calories in general all come to mind. But, consider this: Adding protein to your plate can help sustain your energy throughout your shift and keep cravings at bay (which may make it easier to avoid the donuts in the break room or unhealthy choices from the vending machine).
Here are a few ways to add more protein to your day:
Boost your breakfast. Use these ideas to add more protein-rich foods to your morning meal:
- Eggs: Hard boil a dozen eggs every weekend so you can grab one or two each morning as you head out the door. If you’re really crunched for time, you can buy packages of hard boiled eggs at the deli section of most supermarkets. Check out fellow nurse, Heidi Rye, DNP’s easy recipe for make-ahead quiche cups.
- Breakfast burritos: Add scrambled eggs to a corn tortilla with ½ cup of black beans, low-fat cheese, and salsa to help keep you full all morning long. Here are more high protein breakfast burrito ideas.
- Toppings: Sprinkle a tablespoon of chopped walnuts, almonds, or pistachios on top of your morning oatmeal or cereal for an extra 4 to 6 grams of protein. Use water to make oatmeal or hot cereal? Choose skim milk instead and you’ll get an extra 5 grams of protein.
- Smoothies: Amp up the protein in your smoothies or smoothie bowls by adding Greek yogurt (a whopping 18 grams per 6 ounces), kefir (9 grams per cup), peanut butter (4 grams per tablespoon), or chia seeds (5 grams per ounce).
- Pancakes: Incorporate cottage cheese, quinoa, or Greek yogurt into your pancake recipe to increase the protein content in them. Learn the specifics by trying one of these recipes.
Power up lunches and dinners. Incorporating lean meats or fish into your meals can boost your protein intake, but there are other ways to reach your quota, including:
- Soups: Have a cup of lentil soup (9 grams per cup), chicken noodle (6 grams per cup), or try some of these other high protein soups before your main meal.
- Salads: Instead of restricting your salads to veggies, add extra flavor and nourishment with an ounce of chicken (7 grams), turkey breast (8 grams), shrimp (7 grams), or goat cheese (6 grams).
- Beans: Most beans, including chickpeas, kidney beans, or black beans pack a serious protein punch with about 20 grams per half cup. Add them to tacos, side dishes, or dips.
- Spreads: Make your sandwiches heartier with spreads like a light tuna salad, hummus, or avocado.
- Noodles: Swap out spaghetti for higher-protein noodles like soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles available at most Asian markets) or some of the high-protein varieties (made with lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, or pea protein) available at most grocery stores. While traditional pasta has about 3 grams of protein per cup, these varieties boast between 6 to 14 grams for the same amount.
Strengthen your snacks. To keep yourself fueled throughout the day, aim to include a mix of carbs and protein in your snacks. Healthy options include:
- An apple with nut butter
- Spreadable cheese on whole grain crackers or cucumber slices
- String cheese and a piece of fruit
- Low-sodium jerky
- Cottage cheese with berries
- Veggie slices with hummus or guacamole
Do you have any protein-rich recipes you love?! Let us know in our discussion, in our private Facebook group, or by posting a picture on Instagram. Don't forget to tag #HealthyNurse!
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