10 High Protein, Non-Meat Foods I Love To Keep In My Kitchen
So a couple weeks ago I talked about how one of the ways in which I changed my diet after doing Fitness Genes was reducing how much meat I eat.
So for this week's post, I wanted to talk about my favorite sources of non-meat protein!
I know that one of people's biggest concerns with eating less meat is getting enough protein, and Queen, do I feel ya.
But one of the best parts about eating protein-rich meals is how filling they can be, which will deter you from unnecessary snacking.
And let's be real, who doesn't love a bomb ass snack? Real talk... I actually think I prefer eating snacks over real food anyway.
After doing Fitness Genes last year, I actually discovered that there was a genetic reason for that.
So when you do a Fitness Genes DNA analysis kit, one of the genes that they code for is the FTO gene.
The FTO gene is known to be linked to a hormone called ghrelin, which controls your sense of hunger. And from what Fitness Genes knows, "research has shown that carriers of the A allele have an increased appetite, and exhibit more loss of control when eating compared to those with the TT genotype." So as an AA carrier, I was basically double fucked.
Knowing I have this gene now has truly changed how I go about eating for the better. I now pay much closer attention to when my body "says" that it's hungry, and I usually try to hold off for an hour or two if I feel like it's been too soon since I last ate.
I also try to monitor when I feel that out-of-control sensation when I'm eating certain foods, so that I can make the choice as to cut it out of my life or severely limit how much I have it.
But like I mentioned before, protein-rich foods can definitely help you curb hunger, and you don't just need to eat meat to get it.
So now here are some of my favorite non-meat, high protein foods that help to keep my hunger in check.
1. Fat Free Ricotta
So I tend to buy Trader Joe's fat free ricotta, but I would focus more so on the macros than the brand. One of the reasons why I love Trader Joe's fat free ricotta (besides it being right near my house #realtalk) is that it gives you 6 grams of protein per serving (1/4 cup), and only 4 grams of carbs. So using a cup of it would get you 24 g of protein!
One of my favorite things to use it for is as a sauce for when I make chickpea pasta to really maximize my protein intake.
2. Chickpea Pasta
I. AM. OBSESSED. WITH. CHICKPEA. PASTA! So I was never a huge pasta person... but I mean also who can say no to some thanksgiving mac' and cheese?! (No one with a soul I'll tell ya)! So even way before I started FG, I was trying to find veggie substitutes to eating pasta (like making zucchini spaghetti) to minimize my carb intake. The only thing I found at the time that I felt could really work for something like mac' and cheese, however, was cauliflower... but UGH! That shit was so nasty prepared like that lol.
So then one day I happened to be at a Targét in Portland (because of course I would find this at a Target in Portland lol), and I saw this bright orange box that said chickpea pasta, but more importantly, 25 grams of protein, and 13 grams of fiber...
Now here's where you need to be careful when it comes to advertising because that macronutrient breakdown is for if you ate the WHOLE box. The actually breakdown per serving (2 ounces) is 3.5 g of fat, 32 g of carbs (with 8 g of fiber), and 14 g of protein.
Still not bad at all. And when you add in a serving of low fat ricotta, with a lil' bit of salt and pepper, broccoli and garlic, you're adding an additional 10 g of protein to the meal for a total of 24 g! (Broccoli is pretty high in protein for a veggie, FYI).
YAAASS PROTEIN, YAAASS!
Ok so here's my #realtalk about quinoa... Now don't get me wrong, I love it, but I feel like there's waaaay too much hype around it being this amazing source of protein. It is a great source of protein FOR A CARB, but as a general non-meat related protein, I think it's macros are kinda wack. For one serving (1/2 cup) of the Trader Joe's Frozen Cooked Quinoa, it has 24 g of carbs, 2 g of fat, and 6 g of protein.
Again, I love it as a food, and it's hella versatile; I can eat it sweet or savory, and I enjoy it both ways. But when you compare it to something like the chickpea pasta, its macros just really fall short for me. So this isn't me saying that you shouldn't have it because this would be a way better option than white rice, for instance. But I would just make sure you keep in mind that this is more so a carb first, with a little added protein than the other way around (as is popularly mythologized in health foodie culture). But if you hook it up with some fried eggs, soy sauce, and veggies, you are definitely going to have one high protein stir-fry!
4. Eggs and Egg Whites
So eggs/egg whites are probably one of the best sources of protein you can get when we think about the macronutrient breakdown. I tend to use one egg and 6-9 tablespoons of egg whites (equal to 2-3 large eggs) which gets me 16-21 g of protein, 4.5 g of fat (with 1.5 g of saturated fat), and 1 g of carbs. And that's just the base. If I decide to make an omelette that has tempeh, quinoa, cottage cheese or ricotta in it, I'm looking at an additional 6-18 g of protein!
You could also do the egg/egg whites, and sprinkle some almond cheese from Trader Joe's on top (6 g of protein) while adding a slice of Ezekiel bread (4 g of protein) for an additional 10 g of protein!
Just bless the universe for tempeh. This is hands down one of my favorites to eat, but one of my motherfuckin' least favorites to cook (its not hard to cook; I just don't like making time to do it). For those of you that don't know what tempeh is, this link has a more in depth explanation, but it is basically a less processed version of tofu.
So #realtalk about tempeh, it looks ugly as all hell, and like it shouldn't be going into your body. I know, I know. But you gotta trust me, when tempeh is seasoned and sautéed up real nice...
It is truly such a divine experience, and about 80% of the reason why I don't miss meat. If you ever find yourself in LA, you HAVE to go to Mendocino Farms and get their BBQ tempeh sandwich... My LORDT. This sandwich (clap) CHANGED (clap) THE (clap) GAME! And know that it's definitely not healthy in the slightest, but at least it's good for the soul, lol.
Anyway, the other thing I gotta warn you about is don't even try, and THINK about eating it before it is seasoned (even when it's sautéed, and looking all crispy and good). You will regret it 1000 times over, and try and come for me, and say how could Daysha suggest something so bland and tasteless that it makes cardboard boxes taste seasoned. So... I'm (clap) letting (clap) you (clap) know (clap) now... don't do it (and if you do, don't @ me cuz I'll be looking at cha like this...)
So for tempeh right now, I either marinade it in soy sauce or salt them. But now that I work from home, I definitely want to figure out some more fun ways to dress 'em up. I'll keep y'all posted (or if you have a fun recipe definitely let me know)!
So my favorite brand of tempeh is Lightlife, and I usually get it at Target, but I know you can also get it at Whole Foods. I have had the Trader Joe's one (obvi, lol), but I felt like Lightlife had better macros. As for its macros, one serving (3 ounces or about half a block) gets you 4.5 g of fat (with 1 g of saturated fat), 10 g of carbs with get this... 7 g of fiber! And lastly, it has a whopping 16 g of protein!
6. Cottage cheese
So here's the deal about my feelings towards cottage cheese... I can't say I'm a huge fan of it, but it also has macros that just can't be beat, and is probably one of the highest protein-having dairy foods out there. So I eat it when I need a protein boost.
So I really like this brand called Good Culture, and I usually get it at Target. So when I first started eating Good Culture... I'll admit it wasn't the best cottage cheese I could be eating because of its high saturated fat levels. It used to have 4 g of saturated fat per serving, and because I code dominantly for the APOA2 gene, which is essentially a saturated fat sensitivity, it was definitely a lot for me. But I wouldn't eat more than one serving of this particular brand a day.
However, the Good Culture gawds must have heard about my dilemma because they recently released an updated version that has astronomically better macros. It's overall breakdown for one serving (150g) is 5 g of carbs, 1.5 g of fat (with 1 g of saturated fat), and 19 g of protein!
Still don't think I'll eat it anymore than I already do (lol), but at least I can feel less guilty about it. When I do eat cottage cheese, it's usually with chickpea pasta or in an omelette.
7. Greek yogurt
I also can't say I'm a huge yogurt fan either (now fro-yo is definitely more of my jam). But again, it just has macros that can't be beat. So I tend to eat Chobani's, but #realtalk that's because I would get it for free at BuzzFeed (lol), but for the most part I'm impartial about the brand.
But if you're trying to get legit, authentic greek yogurt, then Fage is where its (expensive, but tasty ass) is at. The macro breakdown for a plain 0% fat Chobani's yogurt (150g) is 6 g of carbs, and 15 g of protein.
I also have to say #realtalk... I don't do any of that fruit on the bottom type shit. The reason behind that is because there's a good chance there are added sugars being put into the paste that the fruit gels in. I would say if you like fruit in your yogurt, you are better off getting the plain, 0% fat yogurts, and adding fruit to it. So that way you can monitor how much fruit/sugar you are getting.
I also gotta say #realtalk... I don't put any agave or honey in my yogurt.
Ugh, I know. I know. For a minute, I was forcing myself to eat plain-ass yogurt with like 10 little bland-ass, unseasoned-ass almonds...
But after 2 weeks of torture, I couldn't take it, and did some research on sugarless sweeteners. I then started my love affair with stevia. So I will say with stevia, I learned that you have to be careful with the powders because of the bleaching process, but that the safest form to use tends to be the drops. I usually get mine at Trader Joe's, but I don't think there's a huge difference between them. So any brand will do.
8. Protein Bars
So I'm not a huge fan of protein bars, in general, just because of all the additives and junk that can be found in a lot of them. But I have two brands that I stand by.
RX Bars are my number 1 go-to bar. They are so simple and pure, and you know everything that you are getting with them because it's literally on the front of the bar. My new favorite is their chocolate peanut butter one, which has 10 g of fat (with 2.5 g of sat. fat), 21 g of carbs (with 5 g of fiber), and 12 g of protein.
And I know some people aren't fans of the macros, and I totally get it. This is definitely a snack that would be ideal to pair with a high protein, low carb and fat option like plain greek yogurt to really maximize your protein intake. But by itself, yes, I will definitely agree that I'm not a huge fan of the macros. But given that it's all-natural ingredients, I definitely prefer it over most bars.
Depending on the temperature it's kept at, they can be super soft and chewy like fudge, or hard and thick like a snickers bar.
My other favorite bars are called No Cow Bars, and their macros are probably one of the best I've ever seen on the protein bar market. They're also vegan, soy-free, added sugar-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, debt-free, drama-free... practically every type of free you can be, but the free I want it to be, free-free, lol.
My favorite one is the peanut butter chocolate chip bar, and it has 27 g of carbs, but wait until I tell you this!
It has a whopping amount of not 5... not 10... not even 15 g of fiber.
This bar... right here... this bar has 19 g of fiber per serving! And the raspberry truffle one that is listed has 20 g!
I actually didn't know how to process this info, and had to text Dr. Dan, the CEO of Fitness Genes, immediately, and who also was hella impressed by the macros. He did recommend, though, that I only eat one bar a day, max, just because of all the fiber.
Also just incase you didn't know, having foods that are high in fiber will also help curb your appetite as well. But bear in mind that having too much fiber could also give you the bubble guts lol.
In addition to that, this bar also has 5 g of fat (with 2 g of sat. fat) and 20 g of protein.
So when I would do this bar with a greek yogurt, and some fruit... It was a wrap. Hunger was basically cancelled.
Ok, so now listen here y'all... this bar is perfect in every way, but if I'm gonna keep it real, I gotta warn you about the texture. I definitely think they aren't for everyone, and in some ways, they are an acquired taste, but I've really come to enjoy them over time.
I would say the texture is what I'd imagine dusty saltwater taffy to feel like in my mouth (LOL), which I know isn't ideal in the slightest... but those macros y'all! And again, I have really gotten used to it. But I just wanted to put it out there so y'all can make the best choice #4QueenCommandments.
9. Ezekiel tortillas/Ezekiel bread
So I'm not a huge fan of eating bread, but if I do, I prefer to have Ezekiel bread because it's an all-natural product. This also means that there's no preservatives. So if you leave it out in the room temp air, it will grow mold in like 3 days (as real food is supposed to do). So if you want to keep it for longer, I'd definitely store it in the fridge or freezer.
As far as the bread goes, it's macros aren't super impressive. It has 0.5 g of fat, 15 g of carbs, and 4 g of protein, but in combination with other protein-rich toppings like cottage cheese, powdered peanut butter, or eggs, it's a great protein-rich add on. But again, this is similar to the quinoa in that it's more so a carb first (but a really good one though)!
Same goes for the tortillas, which has 3.5 g of fat (with 0.5 g of sat. fat), 24 g of carbs, and 6 g of protein.
So I know it can be hard to adjust to certain healthy foods, and somedays you're gonna be like, "I just want a regular-ass flour tortilla, ok Daysha? OK?!" And, Queen, I get it. I'm not saying it's bad to have the Mission Tortillas, since they both carry the same amount of fiber and protein, which helps with fullness. But I would just tell you to make sure you account for the fact that choosing this will take up more fat and carbs in your daily macronutrient goals. And if it were me, I'd prefer to get those carbs and fat from Pressed Juicery's freeze frozen dessert, ya feel me?
The awareness isn't to make you feel guilty, but rather to help you have more choices about where you want to get your food/energy from. That's why I love counting macros now instead of calories because it almost becomes a game of how do you figure out how to get each one. As I've gone through my food journey, I've learned that it's not so much about restricting yourself from things, but learning more about the things you value, and making them work within your daily macronutrient goals, as well as cutting out/reducing the stuff that doesn't hold any emotional or nutritional value to you.
And finally we have edamame! It has 5 g of fat (with 1 g of sat. fat), 9 g of carbs (with 5 g of fiber), and 9 g of protein. This makes it a great high protein addition to any stir-fry or salad. And they even have dried edamame, which would be a great high protein side to a sandwich instead of a bag of chips. I actually really like making quesadillas with the Ezekiel tortillas and Trader Joe's almond cheese, and I'll add around a serving of edamame, and sprinkle some adobo on top. This meal will get me around 21 g of protein and 10 g of fiber!
So I know people have their reservations about soy, but after doing some research, and talking casually with Dr. Dan, I've found that the biggest risk with soy products is when you ingest very processed soy. All of the soy products I've mentioned here are naturally occurring forms of soy, but I totally understand if you still have reservations, and would encourage you to check out this comprehensive article CNN published last year for more info.
So that's all I got for now, Queens! Check out my Amazon page, which will all have a curated list of everything I mention if you see something you want to try! In the coming weeks, I'll be rolling out recipe videos on YouTube for some of my favorite meals that I mentioned here. So if you want to subscribe, you can do so here!