Surprising sources of protein and my top snack ideas!

July 13, 2012 · 8 comments

Last week during my 4th of July vacation, my mother asked me if I had any suggestions for high protein snacks. I was kind of well, shocked she asked me this since usually she is the one turning me on to new products. She introduced me the Eat Clean Diet by Tosca Reno and ever since, my view of eating has been dramatically altered.

While I do agree with my mom that finding a high protein snack can challenging, I don’t think it’s nearly as difficult as many make it out to be. Protein can be a sneaky nutrient that you might not notice in many of your favorite foods. The reason we often don’t think of these foods as being high in protein is because they typically are high in carbs, fat or both!

One of my favorite sneaky sources of protein is quinoa. It’s one of the few plant-based complete proteins and one of the most versatile grains. You can eat it for breakfast instead of oatmeal with your favorite fixings, with veggies and a Laughing Cow wedge for a creamy dinner side dish or as a snack! Yes, you can eat quinoa as a snack. My favorite way to enjoy quinoa as a snack is with a little stevia, low fat cottage cheese, toasted almonds and blueberries.

For under 240 calories and 17 g of protein, combines 1/3 cup of cooked quinoa, 1/2 ounce of slivered almonds, ¼ cup of blueberries, ½ cup of low fat cottage cheese and 1 packet of your favorite stevia. It’s a perfect mini-meal or mid-day snack.

In the recipe above, I also included two other sneaky sources of protein; Nuts and dairy. One ounce of peanuts has 7 g grams of protein (166 calories) and a cup of black beans has 15g (227 calories). A nut-like alternative with less fat and more protein naturally, is dried edamame. I like to mix it with a few almonds that are raw and unsalted. They play a nice sweet counterpart to the usually salted soybean.


Dairy on the other hand, is a little bit better know for having higher protein content. A single serving cup of Greek yogurt typically will have up 14 grams of protein. One of my favorite protein focused desserts is from the South Beach Diet I used to make in college! I love to combine ricotta cheese with a splash of unsweetened almond milk, stevia and mango.  A half-cup of low fat ricotta cheese has 100 calories and 12 g of protein, making this a satisfying end to my day.

Lastly, if I’m on the go, I’ll grab a Mini Babybel Light to throw in my purse. However, the problem with dairy and nuts is that is can be high in calories if you are eating the real thing. Not only is it naturally high in fat but it also tends to have added sugar to sweeten it. If you like volume, nuts and cheese are not going to satiate your appetite. This is why I’ve become pretty reliant on my protein supplements. It satisfies my sweet tooth, mid-day slump and hunger pangs without the extra calories. One of my favorite shakes from Premier Protein has 30g of protein and just 160 calories! It also has 3g of fiber. See how attractive and easy it can be?

Wanna learn more about protein? Check out my post from last week on What You Need To Know About Protein.

When do you need an extra energy boost?
I am hosting a contest through the end of August called “Energy for Every Day.” If you haven’t tried adding protein to your life, now is your chance. Winners will receive a gift pack worth $250 from Premier Protein, including a $200 cash prize to keep you active and on the go. Think of that running or camping gear you’ve needed, plus more fun swag! Three winners will be chosen at random in July, three winners will be chosen in August and four will be chosen in September.

To enter, all you need to do is share that moment when your energy crashes and you need that extra boost. Answer the following question on the YouTube video below in the comments section, “I need protein most when… ______________” and be sure to check out Premier Protein on Facebook.

You need to watch the video on YouTube to leave a comment.

You can also subscribe to my YouTube channel in the mean time to make sure you don’t forget and miss the video when it goes live!

This post is part of a sponsored campaign with Premier Protein. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lindsay July 13, 2012 at 2:48 pm

at breakfast! me too, sarah!

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2 Joyce July 13, 2012 at 9:13 pm

Hi Sarah! Love these ideas – but actually, quinoa isn’t the only plant-based complete protein – amaranth, buckwheat, chia, hemp, soybeans, and spirulina are among the other plant-based complete proteins out there. Just wanted to let you know!

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3 Sarah July 13, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Joyce, Thank you for your clarification. You are absolutely correct. I do not typically eat the others on a regular basis and didn’t even think twice when writing the piece, which now makes me feel stupid since I researched all the nutrition for the other foods! I have changed the wording to reflect an accurate statement. Thank you, again!

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4 Joyce July 14, 2012 at 2:26 pm

No problem at all! But I agree – when I think snack, I’m way more likely to think quinoa than amaranth haha.

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5 alicia July 15, 2012 at 9:35 am

Hi Sarah,
Love the quinoa, cottage cheese recipe. Thats one of my favorites too.
I have a weight loss question…how important is carb counting when it comes to weight loss? Should I be more concerned with number of calories vs. number of carbs in a day? About how many carbs do you consume in a day? Just curious, any information would be helpful. Thanks so much.

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6 Laura July 17, 2012 at 12:05 am

Hi Sarah,

Your website rules. I recently have become obsessed with nutrition but am wary to make any drastic changes (besides cutting out lots of sugar!) because I’m a college athlete. I swim probably 20 hours a week so I don’t want to cut carbs too much, but I have become aware of how eating badly makes me feel awful…any ideas on how I can eat healthy and clean but stay fueled to swim?

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7 Sarah July 17, 2012 at 1:56 am

Hi Laura, while there is a ton of weight loss advice on my site, the bulk of it is maintaining and fueling an active lifestyle. People write 500 page books based on your question. If you are looking for my favorite nutrition guide, I always suggest the eat clean diet recharged by Tosca Reno. Stick to real foods. You need to eat carbs, but choosing ones that are not or minimally processed is key. I love quinoa, buckwheat, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, ezekial bread, and brown rice when I’m training for intense competitions. Hope this helps!

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8 Laura July 17, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Thanks so much Sarah!

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