With warmer weather, I find myself craving salads for lunch or dinner. All the produce is so gorgeous this time of year, and I don’t feel like turning on the oven and heating up the house to bake anything. The only downside is that my husband likes protein at every meal. This has created my quest for easy protein that enhances a salad. These are some of my favorite, easy additions.
This grain is one of the few vegetable proteins that is a “complete” protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids your body needs. It is also high in fiber, iron and magnesium.
Adding sunflower or pumpkin seeds not only gives your salad a crunchy, nutty flavor, they also pack a healthy dose of protein (6 grams of protein per quarter cup of sunflower seeds and 6 grams per quarter cup of pumpkin seeds). Another benefit is their high concentration of vitamin E, selenium, magnesium and “good” fat, all of which help metabolism.
Eggs are such an easy, convenient way to grab protein on the go. Each egg contains 6 grams of protein, as well as vitamin D. You can hard boil them and slice them onto your salad, or poach them and place on your salad warm. The runny yolk is a great replacement for salad dressing!
Shrimp is definitely a “go-to” of mine in the summer, when I am cooking for my husband. They cook up on the grill in no time, or on the stove on a grill pan. Even easier, most supermarkets and fish mongers sell them cooked, shelled and deveined. Three or four large shrimp add a whopping 18 grams of lean protein, plus lot of omega-3 fatty acids.
While hard cheeses can be calorie dense, soft cheeses made from goat or sheep milk are much lower in calories and fat, but still high in protein. One serving of Feta, for instance, gives you an ounce of creamy crumbles, with four grams of protein. And with all that flavor, you can cut back on the amount of dressing you need.
These items are easy to keep on hand in your pantry or fridge, so any time you don’t want to cook dinner, just whip up a healthy, nutrient dense salad and add your favorite protein.
Photo by: Jakub Kapusnak