Grilled chicken for dinner again. Another swig of a protein powder-filled shake. A salad topped with sliced hard-boiled eggs for lunch three work days out of five. You reluctantly eat the same fare week in and week out to give your body the protein it needs.
Protein is important for nearly every cell in your body, supporting the strength and growth of ligaments, organs, skin, blood, glands and more. It's been shown to rev up your metabolism and keep you fuller longer. In the United States, the recommended daily allowance of protein is 46 grams per day for women over 19 years of age.
Still, when you're trying to get your protein fill, you don't have to turn to the same protein-loaded items time and time again.
Get out of your rut by trying these 10 surprisingly high-protein foods, and see what protein-rich fare you've been missing.
Thanks to its green color, you may think that the avocado is a veggie. Botanically though, it's a fruit—actually, a berry. Avocados are versatile enough to be incorporated into any meal. Use them in your omelet, as a salad topper, sandwich filler or as the main ingredient in guacamole. This nutritional powerhouse offers protein plus heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and potassium. Drink your avocadoes, too—they give smoothies a creamy consistency. Sip on this green smoothie that will replenish needed nutrients at breakfast, lunch or post-workout snack. The healthy fats and protein in the avocado and yogurt will keep you feeling full for hours. Read more about easy ways to up your protein intake.
This veggie offers one of the highest protein counts among vegetables. They're high in fiber, vitamin K and folate. They're also a good source of potassium, magnesium and vitamin C. Boil it and eat it as a salad. Toss the leaves with your favorite dressing and greens. Use the hearts to top flatbreads and pizzas. This Cherry and Tomato Artichoke Tart can be cut into squares for a tasty appetizer or served as a main course for lunch or dinner. Use tomatoes plucked from the garden for a fresh taste.
Edamame are immature soybeans that are usually steamed. They have more protein than other legumes. This great vegetarian option will give you a dose of plant protein plus vitamins, fiber and minerals. Plus, they're low in carbs. Edamame makes a salad more filling. Toss them into a stir-fry. Add some to a pot of soup. Try this flavorful, enticing mix of fresh strawberries, white beans and edamame in a light vinaigrette. It rests on baby spinach and is topped with crumbled feta.
These seeds absorb tons of water, so they'll help keep you full. Along with being high in protein, they're rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a healthy fat that can help lower inflammation. Add them to oatmeal, yogurt, cereals and smoothies. Bake chia seeds into a loaf of bread or use them to make a tasty pudding. This overnight oatmeal chia pudding recipe from Root + Revel is a healthy and easy make-ahead breakfast. It's spiked with tasty vanilla, honey and berries. It's made in a jar and eaten cold, so it's a fresh way to start your day.
Peanut butter offers a healthy dose of protein, plus it's rich in healthy monounsaturated fats. Opt for no-sugar added, unsalted varieties to maximize your benefits and avoid harming your waistline. And be wary of buying low-fat or light varieties, which often replace the peanut butter's fat with sugar. This childhood favorite goes beyond sandwiches. Stir it into hot oatmeal. Spread it on fresh produce like apple slices or celery sticks. Blend it into your post-workout smoothie. Root + Revel's peanut butter and banana green smoothie is a low-calorie protein shake. Whip it up for breakfast, dessert or a snack.
These grain-like seeds offer protein plus fiber, magnesium, calcium and vitamin B. In fact, many people think it's a grain. Quinoa, though, is actually a seed. Substitute naturally gluten-free quinoa for rice or noodles in your burrito bowls or stir-fry. Instead of a beef burger, make one with quinoa and black beans. It will be packed with fiber and anti-inflammatory properties. Or, serve this Turkey and Quinoa Meatloaf for dinner. Learn more about top sources of protein for vegetarians.
Greek yogurt is made by removing whey and other liquids, creating a creamier and richer yogurt. Plus, it boasts plenty of protein. Just be sure to read labels and opt for ones with little to no sugar. Otherwise, the added sugars could outweigh the benefits of the yogurt's protein levels. Serve these Salmon Cakes With Greek Yogurt Sauce as an appetizer, main dish or on top of a salad. Tired of eating eggs for breakfast? Try some tangy Greek yogurt mixed with chopped nuts, berries or other fruit or a touch of honey.
Regardless of how you eat them, peas pack a protein punch. Plus, they boast a variety of essential vitamins and minerals like niacin, folate, phosphorous, zinc and thiamine. Throw them into main dishes, soups and salads. Make this onion, mushroom and pea dish as a side tonight.
This cruciferous vegetable is higher in protein than most other veggies. It contains a variety of vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, potassium and iron. A Korean-style marinade and super-thin slicing make the meat in this beef and broccoli dish tender and flavorful, even when well done. For best results, slice the beef when it's partially frozen and stir-fry until just cooked through. If you're craving spicy food, add some red pepper flakes to the pan.
In addition to boasting protein, sun-dried tomatoes are high in fiber, potassium and vitamin C, and low in fat. Just be sure they're not packed in oil and are drained. Add them to salads or sandwiches or use them as a pizza topping. Serve your family these Chicken Cutlets With Broccoli Rabe & Mozzarella, which contain sun-dried tomato slivers.