I spent the majority of my life as a vegetarian. I stopped eating meat when I was 14, and only started eating chicken and turkey again when I got pregnant with Jacob. I still don’t eat mammals, because I just can’t bring myself to do it. I mean, I have enough guilt over chicken and turkey! I’m not going to get into the whole debate about my reasoning behind it (unless you want me to!), but the point is, I had a really hard time getting enough protein most of my life.
Let me note that this isn’t typical for most vegetarians or even vegans. The majority of them eat a varied diet and manage to get their protein from other sources. As a tremendously picky eater, though, I wasn’t one of them. Since you kind of need protein to survive (it’s a building block for just about every part of us), not getting enough protein can cause major problems. I often wonder if my diet played a starring role in my fertility problems! Even though I eat chicken and turkey now, it’s not every night, so I still have to find ways to add more protein to my diet.
How much protein do you need in your diet?
I think we should figure out exactly how much protein you actually need, right? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explain that roughly 10-35% of your daily calories should come from protein sources, but that’s a huge gap in percentages! Is it one-tenth or one-third? Adult women typically need about 46 grams each day, while men and teens need a bit more.
Practical Tips to get the necessary amount of protein when you’re picky like me!
While 46 grams sounds like a lot, even picky eaters can meet that need with the right combination of foods.
- Yogurt. The average cup of yogurt contains about 11 grams of protein. In the past, yogurt was pretty basic. You had a few fruity flavors in the same consistency, and if you wanted to get really fancy, you could get the Fruit on the Bottom stuff. Now, though, there are like 1000 different types of yogurt! You can even get pie-flavored varieties! If you’re watching your weight, you may want to opt for the low-fat varieties though.
- Almonds. Nuts in general pack a ton of protein into their little shelled packages, but almonds are definitely my favorite. One cup of almonds provides 20 grams of protein. Of course, that’s a lot of almonds in one sitting, but even if you eat a quarter of that, it’s still 5 grams towards your daily requirement.
- Cottage Cheese. I know a lot of picky eaters are saying “ewww” right now, but cottage cheese on grapes is pretty delicious. I also eat it on cantaloupe. Here’s the thing that drives me nuts, though: when I was looking for high protein foods, I came across a few sites listing cottage cheese as having a massive amount of protein in it. Well, it does…in a whole cup. Who the heck eats a whole cup of cottage cheese in one sitting? Still, two ounces (a reasonable amount for a cup of fruit) does have 7 grams of protein in it, so it is a pretty good source!
- Quinoa. So, I had no idea this was pronounced “keen-wah” until my brother said “try the keen-wah dish, you’ll like it” at his wedding reception. I thought (and probably said) “Are you kidding me? I don’t even know what that is!” Well, turns out I did know what it was, and I did like it. Quinoa is, in case you don’t know, itty bitty little pasta-like grain thingies. That’s really descriptive, right? It’s awesome, though! One cup contains over 8 grams of protein. Again, I think it would be hard to eat a whole cup, so assume you’ll eat maybe half of that and you’ll still get 4 grams of protein per serving.
- Cereal. Post Great Grains recently came out with two higher protein blends: Cinnamon Hazelnut and Honey, Oats and Seeds. They each have about 8 grams of protein per serving. If you factor in the milk with its 8 grams, you’re already at 16 grams and your day has just started!
More About Post Great Grains Cereal
Post sent me both varieties to try out, and the Cinnamon Hazelnut blend rocks! It’s incredibly delicious with just the right amount of sweetness.I think hazelnut makes just about anything taste better. Well, maybe not anything, I can’t imagine it would taste too good in…no, actually, I can’t think of anything that doesn’t go well with hazelnut!
Sal really liked the Honey, Oats and Seeds. I liked it, but it wasn’t as sweet as the Cinnamon Hazelnut, and I’m all about the sweetness! It has more of a savory taste, definitely more nutty! One really great aspect of Great Grains cereal is that Post tries to minimize processing of the grains, nuts and seeds to as little as possible. That way, you’re getting as close to as nature intended in both taste and nutrition.
Getting enough protein in your diet when you’re a picky eater isn’t terribly hard. You just have to rethink your eating strategy a bit. Experiment with high-protein foods until you find a combination that works for you.