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Meat Alternative Lean Protiens

Over the last two years I have significantly reduced the amount of animal products I have been eating, but now that I am working out pretty seriously again, I am realizing that I might need some more protein sources in my diet and don't want to add chicken or meat outside of rare occasions.
My problem stands that I work pretty long hours during the week, and usually cook Sunday for Mon-Wed and then again Wed night for Thurs and Fri. I already eat hummus, dried and roasted edamame, and quinoa quite often. The few ideas I have to add are a grilled and cooled calamari (and other similar seafood) salad, good quality canned sardines, and lentil/bean salads.
Does anyone have some other ideas they could share? Thanks!

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  1. Eggs, or egg whites to be specific.

    Canned tuna and salmon (esp. if canned sardines are ok with no "animal products" line)



    Pumpkin seeds


    Fish roe

      1. re: smartie

        Tofu is not really *that* high in protein, esp. vis-a-vis other non-meat alternatives.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            That's not so, measuring it calorie for calorie against, say, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, lentils or fish roe: Only the fish roe compares favorably to extra firm tofu at equal calories. For about 55 calories the protein content is: quinoa 2.04 gms, pumpkin seeds 2.96 gms, lentils 1.05 gms, fish roe, 7.87 gms, extra firm tofu 7.40 gms.

        1. Honestly, you're probably getting enough as is. But, if you want a boost...

          Oysters. From an ethical point of view, they're not really alive/conscious, farming them actually helps the environment and they're as low mercury as seafood gets. Most importantly, smoked canned ones are really tasty. And, I hear folks like 'em raw.

          Silken tofu. A cheater protein in that you can mash/puree them into a bunch of things for some extra texture.

          Vegan chili. Probably the cheapest solution in that you can make a batch for the week and just top a bunch of things with it for that extra flavorful, beanie, protein goodness.

          1. cottage cheese, greek yogurt, shrimp

            echoing tuna :)

            1. Beans and rice (that would be a make ahead meal to reheat). Peanut butter and whole wheat bread. If you're truly leaning towards vegetarian than include cheese and crackers. Vegetarian Times is a great resource.

              1. Baked falafels. You can make a bunch and freeze them.

                1. Protein powder, if you can find one you like. I use hemp protein, and blend it with a rotating variety of frozen and fresh fruits and nuts. It is fast, and can boost your protein intake significantly. Hemp tastes a little green -- you may prefer a powder from another source.

                    1. What I have been eating lately is canned tuna (packed in olive oil, not water, its a little higher in calories but after its drained, it makes a much bigger difference in taste) and a lot of greek yogurt. Look for Greek yogurt made with skim milk that contains no fat (just as good as full fat versions) and top it off with some honey and blueberries and some crunchy granola clusters and you have a perfect desert/snack. One serving of yogurt contains approx. 18 g of protein. Almost as much as a can of tuna.

                      Eggs are almost the most cost effective form of protein you can buy in a store. At about a $0.25/ 5 g of protein. Unless you have extreme cholesterol problems, 2 eggs a day is perfect (or at least that's what I have been bulking up on). But I eat yogurt almost every day, sometimes 2 times a day when I need the protein.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Roarasaur

                        Roar, do you eat the white albacore tuna? If so, you might think about switching to salmon for less mercury toxicity, plus you pick up more Omega 3's with salmon. The darker tuna I believe is less of a concern, IF you are concerned.

                      2. TVP (textured vegetable protein) is a soy protein that resembles crumbles of ground meat when cooked. they take on the flavor of whatever they're in, and are great. i sometimes even hydrate them in broth, then mix with bragg's amino acids (or soy sauce) and herbs or vinegars or whatever of choice. great to add to chili, soup, ratatouille, stews, etc.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Emme

                          Greek yogurt and tempeh for sure. TVP is entirely tasteless and for that mixes well into hot cereal (oatmeal, stone ground oats) and even trail mixes/granola. I even sprinkle into salads.

                        2. I've been trying to do this as well. The bean salads are a great way to incorporate protein and they get better with age. I like to do a nicoise salad with good quality tuna (packed in oil...don't do the packed in water nonsense), stir fries with tofu, this simple but fabulous Cantonese egg with tomato dish...oh, eggs. Argh. I eat a lot of eggs to get my daily protein consumption up but I know you're trying to reduce your animal product intake...

                          If I feel that I haven't had enough protein then I'll have some Fage yogurt for dessert or incorporate a nut butter into my snack at night.

                          I tend to get tired of bean salads and end up eating a medium rare burger on the weekends to satisfy by juicy meat craving. Let me know if you come up with any new ideas!

                          1. I'd really lean on fish and seafood, cottage cheese, eggs and Greek yogurt plus whole soy (but avoid TVP or ersatz processed soy foods) and maybe some whey peptide protein powder in shakes. If you're working out seriously and want to add lean muscle mass, I'd try to steer away from the modest proteins attached to starchy foods and learn to love fish, dairy and eggs.

                            1. I am glad that dcole raised this question. At a veg restaurant I had some "fake" barbecue on a bun, made with vegetable protein, that was absolutely delicious so I bought some VP and carefully followed the recipe on the box. What resulted had the precise consistency of dog poop on a wet sidewalk; it was inedible and disgusting. If anyone can instruct me here, I am willing to try again.