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Topic: Looking for convenient sources of lean protein - ideas?  (Read 1112 times)
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batgirl
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« on: May 04, 2010 01:31:51 PM »

I am on a it's-not-a-diet-it's-a-lifestyle-change, and have discovered a serious lack of protein in my diet! My nutritionist is telling me I need a lot more of it. I am not a vegetarian, but I very rarely eat meat. I am also a lazy cook, and need ideas for easy sources of protein, especially portable things I can take to work for lunch. I have turned to eggs, but I can't eat tooo many eggs. Nuts and cheese and Greek yoghurt are good, but I also have to watch fats, so nut butters don't really cut it. I was happily eating tons of Morningstar products until my nutritionist brought up sodium. So...vegetarians, vegans, and meat dislikers, what are your go-to proteins on the go?
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Kaitlinnegan
« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2010 10:20:45 AM »

Beans!  Canned beans are super convenient.  You can cook them up in so many different ways (throw into a stir fry, in chili, soup, make a bean burger, burritos, rice and beans), or have them cold on top of a green salad or mixed up with chopped veggies.  Usually I make extra of whatever I'm having for dinner and take the leftovers for lunch.  For soups/stews, I'll freeze some of the extra.  I'm eating this right now for lunch, actually: Black bean salad - something like this would be perfect if you don't have access to a microwave. 

Look for low-sodium and no salt added canned beans, but don't worry too much if you can't find them.  If you drain and rinse the beans, you will remove a lot of the salt.  Dry lentils cook quickly and don't require soaking, so those are really convenient too.

Don't forget about soy either.  Tofu, tempeh, and soy milk are great protein sources.  You can find reduced fat varieties of tofu and soy milk, but the fat is relatively low anyway, compared to nuts, eggs and cheese.  Soy yogurt is pretty tasty, but the sugar can be high if you are concerned about that.  I've been making my own from soy milk. 

Since you eat dairy, there is also low-fat milk, yogurt and cottage cheese.  Some cheese are lower in fat, like part-skim mozzarella or string cheese, low fat ricotta cheese (works just as well as the full fat in lasagna), and dry, hard cheese like parmesan.  Read labels and you might be surprised!  If you substitute some egg whites instead of whole eggs, you can reduce the fat a bit there too.

Hope this helps - best of luck with your lifestyle change!
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« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2010 06:35:05 AM »

I second beans but beans and lentils but would also suggest chickpeas and tofu.  I am not a fan of canned beans since they often have quite a bit of sodium.  As mentioned you can rinse them but it makes me wonder how much sodium is left. 

Since you mentioned a concern about sodium why not make the beans yourself?  They are super easy to make and you can freeze a big batch in meal size containers. 

I make black beans and use the batch to make the following;

Sopa negra - black bean soup
Burritos or tostadas
Nachos - beans instead of meat
Gallo Pinto - Costa Rican Rice and Beans Dish
Bean Patties - for sandwiches
Beans with rice and a nice veggie guiso (stew)

There is also a great Caribbean version of rice and beans that uses coconut milk.  It is soooooo good.   

I also like dal which is just plain yummy over or with curried veggies. 

Another great dish is Chana Masala which is made with chickpeas.  It is a spicy Indian tomato and chickpea dish that is great with a tortilla in place of naan and a touch of raitta. 

Finally, there is tofu.  And seriously, what can't you do with tofu?  Our latest obsession is to add it to stir fry after a quick soak in a smidge of soy with rice wine vinegar, garlic and sesame oil.   It is far to yummy for words. 

Hope this rambling reply helps you. 

Vegetarian chili is also fantastic.  You use beans and then a load of veggies.  So it can be a nutritious meal in a bowl. 

T
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« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2010 09:52:47 AM »

These are all great! Thank you all so much!!
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« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2010 12:49:19 PM »

I forgot to mention that for chickpeas you can also make a vegetarian moroccan tangine. 
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EowynUlysses
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2010 01:07:05 PM »

I was going to suggest cooking your own beans, but booglass beat me to the punch. So, I will say edamame and seitan. Edamame are you soy beans, You can usually buy them in the frozen section, with and without the pods. You can't eat the pods, though. I usually just put a handful of frozen edamame in my lunch and heat them in the microwave at lunch. Sometimes I add a little salt and pepper or other spices but I also like them plain.

Seitan is made from flour and has a rather meaty texture. I love it for homemade barbecue. The recipe I used is from a cookbook, but is very similar to the one here: http://www.theppk.com/recipes/dbrecipes/index.php?RecipeID=112. Be sure to use the vital gluten flour, which I can find in the "health food" section at Kroger.

Also, hummus is amazing. You can buy it pre-made at most grocery stores or you can make it yourself. The main ingredients are chickpeas, lemon juice, olive oil, tahini (sesame paste) and salt and pepper or other spices. I usually just plop all the ingredients in the blender and whir until I get the right consistency. (Adding water as needed.)
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« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2010 01:09:20 PM »

I have been using rice protein powder in fruit smoothies for breakfast. They're quick to make, quick to drink, and cleanup isn't too bad if you rinse the blender right away. I like a banana, frozen blueberries, almond milk, and the protein powder. Peanut butter & banana or mixed berries are some other good combos. I add ice if the fruit isn't frozen.

Also remember the fat in nuts isn't bad fat, it's good fat, so it shouldn't raise your cholesterol. A little fat also helps you feel full longer. I've been following the UltraWellness plan, if you'd like to check it out. There are a lot of good ideas for low fat, low carb, healthy ingredients and recipes. http://www.ultrawellness.com/
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Hey_Cinderella
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2010 07:23:13 PM »

Beans are wonderful, as everyone has said, I cook dried ones in my slow cooker and freeze them on a regular basis.

A great source of protein not mentioned yet is Quinoa. An ancient grain and a complete protein. It has a texture similar to couscous and is very versatile. Cook it like rice at a 2:1 water to quinoa ratio. I use my rice cooker and it turns out wonderful each time. I cook it in a large batch and use it in place of rice in stir fries and toss it with feta and raw veggies. Just make sure you rinse it super well if it's not pre-rinsed because it will be bitter otherwise. Super cheap, and a great plant source of protein.

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