Written by Holly Winfield
One of the main areas that the Friendship Nutrition team sees people struggling with coming into nutrition work is their protein intake, and getting protein from quality sources! So, this article will better define why protein is extremely important to our nutrition, and give you some quick and easily implementable tips and recipes to find better success in your quest for better protein intake.
First let’s start by discussing exactly what protein is and why it’s important to make sure we’re getting enough in our diets.
Proteins are comprised of amino acids; these are the building blocks of proteins and I’m sure you’ve all heard this one time or another. There are three groups of amino acids: non-essential meaning that our bodies have the ability to make them on our own, essential amino acids meaning we must obtain these from our diets, and conditional which are only used during severe stress, illness, or trauma. The essential amino acids we must consume from foods are: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Animal sources of protein include: wild caught fish, beef, poultry, and eggs. We can’t forget our vegetarian and vegan friends who need to be extra mindful when it comes to getting enough protein in! Great plant-based sources of protein are: beans, nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, and legumes.
Proteins play a big role in our bodies and are crucial for rebuilding muscle and tissue after exercising . Other key roles that proteins have in our bodies are hormone production, immune health, digestive health and many other body processes. It is essential then that we get the appropriate amount of protein to support our body and our brain’s function, and promote a high level of health and wellness.
I have compiled a list of 5 protein rich snacks to give you some ideas on how to include more protein in your diet. These quick and minimal-ingredient snacks should be enjoyed between meals to keep you full, satisfied, and on track with your goals. Protein is crucial to a healthy diet and especially that of an active crossfitter!
Protein Snack 1: Double Chocolate Protein Balls or as the coaching staff likes to call them “Hollz Ballz”
1c almond butter, 1 scoop of chocolate protein of choice, 8-10 dried figs (found at whole foods) 1 tablespoon of hemp seeds, 1 and 1/4 c of shredded coconut, 4 tablespoons of honey, 1/4c ground flax seed, 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cacao powder, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, a pinch of sea salt and 1/3 c of “Enjoy Life” brand dark chocolate chips. Add all ingredients to a food processor or small blender and roll into balls. Store in the fridge!
Protein Snack 2: Turkey and Spinach roll ups
3 slices of trader joes or Applegate brand smoked turkey, and 5-6 fresh spinach leaves per slice. Place the spinach leaves near the top of each slice of turkey and roll tightly. Cut each roll in half. I like to add a drizzle of mustard in these!
Protein Snack 3: Hard Boiled Eggs seasoned and sauced
I hard boil about half a dozen eggs to get me through a week. Simple instructions to hard boil are: bring a saucepan of water to a rolling boil and gently place in *room temperature* eggs. Let eggs continue to boil for 12 minutes. Drain water and run under cold water for about a minute. I immediately store mine in the fridge. The seasoning blend I like to add to these is Trader Joes “Everything but the Bagel” mix. SO good! I also drizzle a bit of hot sauce and it combines nicely with the flavor of the seasoning.
Protein Snack 4: Green Protein smoothie
This can be enjoyed any time of the day but I like to have it either early in the morning or post workout around 5p.
1c Almond Milk, 1 scoop protein, 1/2c *frozen* berries or banana, 1 tablespoon of chia seed or hemp seed (added protein and promotes fullness), 1 heaping handful of greens (spinach or kale)
Optional: 1 tablespoon of almond or peanut butter.
Blend and enjoy.
Protein snack 5: Roasted chickpeas
These are a great vegetarian option! And best enjoyed with a cold beverage like iced tea, flavored water or la croix. You won’t miss the chips!
1 can of chickpeas- rinsed and drained
Dry with a paper towel
Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive/avocado/coconut oil and toss chickpeas
Sprinkle seasonings of choice- my go to: ancho pepper, chipotle and garlic.
Some other ideas are barbecue or cinnamon and nutmeg!
Roast in the oven on 300 degrees for about 1.5 hours or until very firm and crunchy!
Store at room temp with a paper towel in the bag to absorb moisture.
Hopefully you find this list enjoyable and helpful. If you ever need a quick tip or recipe make sure to follow @hollzkitchen on Instagram, where I’m always posting new recipes! You can always contact me for nutrition help through Friendship Nutrition as well.
Author Holly Winfield is a Nutrition Coach at Friendship Fitness studying for her Masters of Science in Allied Medicine in the Medical Dietetics Program at The Ohio State University.