You've had these protein-packing snacks before, but not like this. Here's how to turn your afternoon snacks into gourmet goodies with these fun twists from three leading nutritionists. By Alexa Tucker, REDBOOK.
Power snackCottage Cheese
Another great source of protein from the dairy family, cottage cheese will keep you satisfied until supper. Gans says, "With fifteen grams of protein per half-cup serving, you get a lot of bang for your buck." An obvious source of calcium, it's also low in carbs and high in B-vitamins, which boost energy and metabolism. "Spread on top of one 100-percent whole-grain waffle," says Gans. Toss some fruit on top for a sweet twist.
At only 80 calories per egg, this classic snack packs six grams of protein. Nutritionist Cynthia Sass, MHP, RD, adds, "They also provide choline, a neurotransmitter needed for brain health, muscle control, memory, and many other functions." Maybe eggs are the secret to remembering your keys as you run out the door! As if you needed another reason to snack on this super food, the high sulfur content promotes healthy hair and nails. For an interesting twist, Sass says, "Mince a hard-boiled organic egg, toss with pesto, and spread onto whole-grain crackers."
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Find these green soy beans in the freezer aisle for a quick and easy afternoon snack. One serving has a whopping 11 grams of protein, and all of the essential amino acids, which aid in every body function imaginable, from fighting disease to preventing brittle nails. Sass suggests, "Whip up a batch of edamame hummus - just trade chickpeas for edamame and add complementary seasonings like fresh grated ginger or fresh wasabi." Toss 'em in a blender with a bit of garlic, salt, and pepper, and you've got a gourmet afternoon snack - in less than 10 minutes. Dip in some raw veggies and you're good to go until dinner.
This classic snack is more than a staple in baseball player's diets - it should be a staple in your purse. Nutritionist Stella Mestovas, B.S., CCN says, "Sunflower seeds are perfect sources of protein, fatty acids, and Vitamin E - considered the king of antioxidants. I love blending them within my power smoothies by mixing a handful of berries, coconut milk, sunflower seeds and powdered cocoa."
Raw almonds are chock full of fat - the good kind, that is. To mix in this heart-healthy source of protein, Mestovas says, "I love my Asian-inspired Almond & Lettuce Wraps: Take a leaf of lettuce, add sliced cucumber and slivered almonds, and glaze the top with tamari (a wheat-free soy sauce)." If you're not an almond fan, go for walnuts or peanuts - but skip the salted varieties.
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Though seemingly trendy, this Mediterranean alternative to classic yogurt is here to stay. Greek yogurt has double the protein of its original variety, and half the sodium, sugar, and cholesterol. Sass suggests, "For a delicious and healthy ice cream alternative, dip a mini banana in nonfat organic Greek yogurt, cover with chopped or sliced almonds, wrap in parchment paper and freeze." Dessert before dinner? Why not!
Snacking on turkey slices is a great way to keep hunger down before dinner, but be wary of fat content in deli slices. Sass suggests, "Only buy organic brands…in that case you're getting a lean protein produced without hormones, antibiotics and artificial preservatives that's free from artery-clogging animal fat." Mestovas mentions, "Try my Mediterranean-style Turkey Wrap by taking a thin slice of turkey and wrapping around a cube of feta cheese and sliced tomato; hold in place with a toothpick." Afternoon hors d'oeuvres, anyone?
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String cheese isn't limited to the bags of those 12 and under! Nutritionist Keri Gans, MS, RD, CDN says, "Cheese sticks are perfectly portion controlled and an easy-to-grab snack." A part-skim cheese stick is a great source of calcium and protein, but similar to turkey slices, keep in mind the fat content. For some salty satisfaction, Gans suggests, "Melt in the microwave over whole-grain tortilla chips."
Make no mistake, the "chicken of the sea" is, in fact, a fish. Like many other ocean dwellers, nutrient-dense tuna is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are key in keeping a heart healthy. Mestovas says, "Making a tuna salad out of Greek yogurt mixed with dried cranberries and pecans is so healthy and decadent-add on top of a piece of sprouted bread or a lettuce leaf."
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