Just because you don’t eat meat doesn’t mean your only snack options are carb-heavy bombs like muffins and candy bars. Sweet treats might give you a little boost, but soon you’ll be crashing. Grab or pack a snack with protein to power through those late-afternoon munchies. Not only will your blood sugar stay more stable, but you’ll probably feel fuller and more satisfied.
These snacks are great for a vegetarian or anyone looking to eat less meat, but easy and tasty enough to satisfy the most dedicated carnivore.
1. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is not only high in protein, but it’s gotten so popular that it’s easy to grab-and-go from your local coffee shops and corner stores. If you’re concerned about total carbs or calories, be sure to check your added sweeteners. Some fruity flavors pack a sugary punch as well, but brands vary. One serving of this thick dairy treat can have 17 grams of protein. To compare, a serving of a t-bone steak can have 21 grams. Not bad!
String cheese gets thrown into plenty of kids’ lunch boxes because it’s simple, quick, and fun. Why not throw one in your purse or the office fridge for an afternoon snack? For a more substantial snack, it’s that string cheese will be delicious with an apple, pear, or crackers. Other single-serving cheeses like cheddar and monterey jack, available in the dairy case of your grocery store. are easy to grab and eat on the go. Cottage cheese has a high protein per calorie ratio – a natural with its reputation for being a diet food.
3. Peanut Butter
Some people like peanut butter all on its own from a spoon, and if you’re hard up for a snack, that can do in a pinch. How about spreading savory peanut butter on a slice of whole wheat bread, or apple slices? “Ants on a log” or celery with peanut butter and raisins is a popular after school treat, but also a balanced way to tide you over to dinner. A tablespoon of peanut butter has about 95 calories, but 4 grams of protein packed into one spoonful.
What about other nuts and seeds? Yes, they’re high in fat, but as long as you enjoy them in moderation, they’re still good for your diet and waistline. Pumpkin seeds are healthy, snackable, and have a high percentage of protein, but your favorite nut probably has plenty of protein power.
4. Hard-Boiled Egg
Why not? They’re easy to make, pack, and eat, especially if you have extra salt and pepper packets around. The white has a higher percentage of protein, but don’t skip the yolk unless you’ve been advised to. Yolks have a couple of grams of protein, too, and they’re high in folate and vitamin B12. Eggs have gotten a bad reputation over the last few years for cholesterol concerns, but they’re an easy and healthy way to add protein to your diet when eaten in moderation.
5. Quinoa Salad
Salads aren’t known for being particularly protein-heavy, but you can change that when you make them with a high-protein grain such as quinoa. Make a big batch of quinoa salad for a light dinner or as a side dish, and pack the leftovers to take to work the next day. Quinoa is a nutty but versatile grain, and takes well to hot and cold salads. Add a few almonds or beans to your salad, for double the protein power. If you don’t like quinoa, try a three-bean salad or pasta salad with beans.
6. Vegan Jerky
When most people think of jerky, they think of beef or turkey, but there are savory jerky strips for herbivores as well. Seitan or soy give these salty treats their protein – up to 11 grams in one 100-calorie pack. That’s almost twice as much as a hard-boiled egg. If you’re sensitive to gluten, check the label, and steer clear of seitan.
7. Protein Bar
Not all protein bars are created equal, and not all of them are vegetarian! Keep a close on your labels to see where that protein is coming from, and for sugar and carb totals if those are of interest to you. Still, protein bars are easy to find, very portable, and a quick way to get a in to your afternoon. Even the busiest afternoon has time for a quick pre-packaged bite.
Soy products like soy milk and tofu are high in protein, but they don’t necessarily make quick and easy snacks. Edamame is a soybean often served as an appetizer at sushi restaurants. Stash frozen edamame in the freezer, and pop a few pods in the microwave for a quick green snack. Add some salt to taste, and squeeze the beans straight from the pod into your mouth. Easy, healthy, and delicious.
9. Chocolate milk
Athletes drink chocolate milk – yes really – to recover from hard workouts. It’s been said that chocolate milk has the perfect ratio of protein and carbs to help repair muscle and replenish stores of energy. Try one the next time you have a chocolate craving in the afternoon, and satisfy that desire without guilt.