Our bones, hair, blood cells, muscles, antibodies, organs, digestive enzymes, skin, tissues and hormones all depend on protein. That’s a lot of important stuff. Research also shows that getting enough protein can help support weight loss efforts by helping you feel fuller longer. As a Registered Dietitian that loves her spin classes and weight training sessions, I also know the importance of protein for performance. For most active adults, I recommend aiming for around 25–30 grams of protein per meal to keep you satisfied, and promote muscle recovery and growth. But sometimes it’s tough to get enough protein into your daily diet, especially with our busy schedules and rising grocery bills.
What if I told you that a good source of protein doesn’t always have to come from the fridge or the freezer? What if you didn’t even need to pre-heat the oven or turn on the stove? I’ve got three easy, fast protein-packed pantry staples that are sure to keep you fueled.
1. Beans and lentils all the way. It’s the official year of the Pulse, which means we’re busting out beans, lentils, peas and chickpeas as often as we can! Beans and legumes make a perfect
base for an inexpensive bowl of hearty soup or stew, a vegan option for salads and wraps or even a great base for a high fibre pasta sauce. For a quick dinner, go with the canned variety, or to save even more money at the checkout, go dried!
2. Nothing fishy here. Most Canadians consume less than half of the recommended weekly serving of fish, which means they’re missing amazing nutritional benefits like omega-3s, high quality protein and vitamin D. These days, my go-to are Clover Leaf Toppers, easy microwavable bowls of delicious tuna in fun flavoured sauces like Mild Curry and Lemon Pepper. Just warm it in a microwave for 35 seconds and you can eat it right from the bowl or serve it with steamed veggies and quinoa!
3. Go nuts. Nuts are a great source of protein and fibre, so I love keeping them around. Try pre-packing nuts in small sandwich bags for an easy snack that you can keep at your desk, in your purse or in your gym bag. You can also beef-up your breakfast with a sprinkle of chopped nuts, or add a spoonful of nut butter to stir-fry sauces with vegetables or meat. What are some of your go-to pantry protein sources?
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Abbey Sharp is a Registered Dietitian, blogger at AbbeysKitchen.com, Youtuber and Ambassador for Clover Leaf.