June 14, 2017

Just Add Protein For a Healthy Summer

Have more fun in the sun with these great protein-packed snacks and meal ideas!

If you love summer cookouts, barbecues and beach-side picnics, but don’t like worrying about whether you’re getting enough protein to maintain a nutritionally balanced diet – we’ve got great news for you.

Not only is it easy to get all the protein you need while enjoying your favorite warm weather activities, these days, there are more exciting options than ever to enjoy protein-packed snacks, meals and desserts.


Whatever outdoor activities await, it’s always a good idea to start your summer day with a protein-packed breakfast. Enjoying protein-filled foods energizes you for the day ahead, and keeps you feeling full all day long. What to eat? Cottage cheese is a protein powerhouse, with 11 grams of protein per serving, it can be enjoyed right out of the container or used as a yummy swap for recipes requiring creamy ricotta cheeses. Greek yogurt is another top pick. Not only does it contain more protein then regular yogurt, it can be added to fruit parfaits, banana breads, or used as a mix-in for protein-packed wheat pancakes for added texture.


Boardwalk-style fast food is tempting, but packing a protein-packed lunch is not only kinder on your wallet, it’s healthier for you, too. Plan ahead by filling a cooler with protein friendly snacks. What to bring? Peanut butter sandwiches hold up well during a sunny day, and offer nearly 8 grams of protein per serving. If you prefer, make your own peanut butter using freshly shelled nuts, and then spread a dollop of your creation on whole wheat crackers. For an elegant twist, pair your DIY PB with sliced bananas, apples or pears, and enjoy while lounging surfside.


If you love burgers but crave something healthier, try grilled black bean burgers, veggie burgers, quinoa burgers or use ground turkey, ground chicken or ground salmon to create something delicious and nutritious. For a binder, mix it up – literally – by adding chickpea breadcrumbs to your patties. If you’re not a burger fan, try grilling chicken sausages or marinated shrimps on the barbie. And if steak makes your inner-chef grab the tongs, go for it — flank steak has just 6 grams of protein per serving. Meanwhile, the perfect London broil takes just a few minutes on the grates, and is certain to be a crowd pleaser.


Meal planning can be tough when everyone is taking advantage of longer days and warmer nights, but luckily, there are lots of high protein make-ahead meals that can be cooked up in batches and served up one meal at a time.  For a go-to meal that’s probably in your pantry right now, give lentils a whirl – they’re great in soups, stews or salads –  and can easily be made ahead of time. Plus, at 9 grams of protein per serving, they offer all the muscle-building benefits protein has to offer. Pork tacos are also a delish last-minute dinner option that can be easily assembled with whatever summer veggies you have on hand, and enjoyed with an accompanying fresh fruit salsa.


Whether you’ve taken a stroll through the park or a hike through the hills, it feels great to refuel with a refreshing smoothie made from fresh seasonal fruits, Greek yogurt, or protein packed low-fat milks or plant-based dairy substitutes such as soy or pea milks. For an added protein boost, add a scoop of whey, rice or pea-based protein powder into your favorite cool blended treat and enjoy.


For anyone older than a kindergartener, snack time may be the most underrated meal of the deal – but by planning ahead, you can make sure you’ve always got satiating protein-friendly treats on hand. For a delicious treat, nibble on steamed, shelled edamame, or enjoy seasoned, roasted chickpeas. Crunchy black-bean chips are great choice to dip into a homemade red-lentil hummus, which can also be paired with carrots or slices of whole-wheat pita. Chicken or turkey jerky offers another better-for-you option on a favorite snacking staple. But just as delicious are fresh nuts, which are rich in protein, and easy to take to your favorite outdoor venue.

For more ideas on how to incorporate yummy, strength-building protein snacks, foods or meals into your diet, visit your store’s local dietitian, or call 1-800-ShopRite to find a dietitian near you.