A varied diet of healthy foods will almost certainly provide all the protein your family needs. Protein comes from animal foods but is also available from nuts, legumes, grains and vegetables. If you want to be sure there’s enough protein for your young athletes in their daily diet, plan dinner around a low-fat protein source and add a few high-protein foods to each recipe.
Salmon and Rice
Salmon is one of the mega-healthy foods that not only supplies protein, but is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids that are good for the brain and the heart and help to prevent serious disease. Prepare salmon by grilling, broiling or baking. Add a light flavor with fresh ginger or lemon marinade or cold mango chutney served as a garnish. Dinner is on the. table in no time if you lightly steam organic French beans while the salmon is cooking. A rice cooker can be preset to deliver fluffy brown basmati when you are ready to sit down to eat.
A frittata is a substantial egg dish cooked with vegetables, herbs and cheeses and served as a main course for a light meal. Eggs are high-protein, digestible and please most picky young palates – the other ingredients make the meal interesting for the rest of the family, so be imaginative when assembling a recipe. Lightly steamed asparagus, sliced leeks, crumbled goat cheese, herbs like chives, tarragon or basil are savory when chopped and folded into a dozen-egg omelet that is cooked in butter and flipped to finish both sides. For meat eaters, fine strips of prosciutto or thin slices of cooked shrimp add extra protein. A frittata is an easy-to-prepare, high-protein and filling meal when served with dark, whole grain bread and a simple green salad with the family's favorite dressings.
Shrimp are fun to eat and fast to grill. In summer, delegate the task to the barbecue chef. In winter, just slip peeled, washed shrimp on a grill pan until they begin to brown. Serve them with pesto salad made with basil from the garden and whole grain pasta. Add little cherry tomato boats stuffed with chevre or cottage cheese for extra protein and more garden goodies.
Turkey is a lean source of animal protein and makes a nice, thick chili that satisfies on a cool night. Preparation time is about 10 minutes; just slip in a drained can of beans and some shredded cheese to add even more protein to the dish. Minced garlic, chopped onion, tomato paste and peeled canned tomatoes marry with spices as hot as your family can handle. Keep it mild if the little ones aren’t too adventurous, and serve chopped serranos on the side with shredded Monterey jack cheese, sliced avocado, warm cornbread or tortilla chips.
Tofu, made from protein-rich soy, is a chameleon food. It is a complete protein and will transform itself into every kind of dish, so you can cook with it often. Make a stir-fry to tempt the fussy young eaters in the house while satisfying the hungry gourmands. Broccoli florets, cubes of smoked tofu, crushed garlic, cashews, vegetable oil and sesame oil with soy sauce, of course, make a tasty meal over a mound of brown rice.
- Harvard University School of Public Health: Protein: The Bottom Line
- Columbia University Health Services: Go Ask Alice: Non-Meat Proteins
- University of Florida; Sarasota County Extension; Florida Food Fare: Jean Meadows, et al
- University of Illinois Extension; Structure of the Egg
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
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