Authors Note: I am not a doctor, nutritionist, or health expert. I am just a mom trying to eat better. Always consult your doctor if you have questions or concerns about your health!
I started this year with a total overhaul of what my family and I were eating. Wanting to make better choices, I have been meal planning and cooking meals every day for my family. But I didn’t want to stop there, I wanted to make sure what I am cooking is fueling my family.
Over the years as I have tried losing weight and going on diets there is one thing I learned that I always think about which is increasing the amount of protein in my meals. Increasing your protein can help in so many ways but it can help keep you full and burn more calories while your body is breaking down the foods. You can read more about the benefits with some scientific research here.
The problem with wanting to increase your protein is finding meals that work that your whole family will eat. For me, I am trying to make meals that I know my family loves but make small changes that help me sneak in as much protein as possible.
Below is a list of small things I have done to help me eat more protein during the day without totally changing my meal plan:
- Use Plain Greek Yogurt instead of Sour Cream – The other day I made Tacos and instead of my usual dollop of sour cream I used Greek Yogurt and I couldn’t even tell the difference!
- Quest Chips– Quest is a popular brand that makes protein shakes, bars, etc. A few years ago they came out with their own protein chips in a few different flavors. Here is the disclaimer, I think they are ok. Do they taste like regular chips??? No…. But they are not terrible. I like getting the loaded taco flavor and using them for taco bowls to increase the protein even more.
- Use Premier Protein shakes as a coffee creamer– I am an avid coffee drinker, but typically I do not use creamer at all. A couple of weeks ago I ran out of my favorite coffee and had to use some backups that we had on hand and I remembered why I wasn’t drinking them. I was not a fan. So to try and make it better and save me a trip to the store and money by letting this coffee go to waste, I grabbed one of my chocolate Premier Protein shakes and used it as a creamer. It was delicious and bonus it is less sugary than your traditional creamer.
Bonus: you could just make this delicious Pumpkin Caramel Protein Coffee
- Choose Cheese as a snack– When I was pregnant with my son I developed gestational diabetes and had to go on a very strict diet to control my blood sugar. One of the big snacks I was given was cheese sticks with grapes. Now it is almost instinctual that anytime I clean up eating, a small snack of cheese and grapes is my go-to move. But cheese is a really easy way to add protein and bonus its good for your blood sugars!
- Use Powdered Peanut Butter– Peanut butter is a great source of protein, however, regular peanut butter is high in fat and calories. If you want a lower calorie option but still enjoy the taste and the protein benefits of peanut butter you can use ones like PBfit.
Bonus: I am not a KETO girl because I struggle with eliminating or restricting whole food groups. But occasionally I find a recipe that I want to try like these Keto PBfit Snickerdoodle Protein Balls
- Use Protein Pasta– Barilla has a good selection of protein-plus pasta that are typically available at HEB. Warning my husband swears he can taste the difference when I use these kinds of pasta, but honestly I can not. So it is going to be up to your own taste preferences, but it does on average have 3g more protein and less carbs than traditional pastas.
- Take Advantage of HEB Meal Simple– Sometimes life becomes crazy and the thought of cooking a meal on top of everything else is enough to send you over the edge. Or maybe you are on a health journey like me but you have decision fatigue and just don’t want to make a bunch of decisions about dinner. the HEB Meal Simple trays have been a lifesaver on these days. They have so many different varieties AND they have all of the protein, fat, and carb counts right on the front which makes it so easy to find higher protein options.
- Add More Beans to your Meals– beans are a hard one for me, I am typically not a fan of most beans by themselves. Even baked beans I didn’t really eat until recently and those sometimes are not the best because of the sugars and things added to them for taste. This is not a strategy that I use daily, but I do try to keep beans in mind for higher protein sides when I am cooking.
- Use your Protein Powder for more than just shakes– I didn’t want one of the items on this list to include protein shakes because..duh! I think protein shakes are a given, but many people don’t realize or they forget that you can use your protein powder for way more than just shakes. You can use it in oatmeal, overnight oats, muffins, and so much more! The next time you are baking throw a scoop or two of your protein powder into the mix.
- Keep High Protein Snacks Handy– This may be a given but if you don’t have some easy-to-grab, easy-to-eat, high-protein snacks on hand increasing your daily protein is going to be more difficult. For us, I like to keep things on hand that are easy to eat in between meals or maybe when we are on the go and need to be more mobile. Things like jerky, almonds, and turkey wraps (Turkey and cheese rolled up) are really good options that do not take much if any prep time.