Energy can be hard to find once those frigid winter winds begin to blow. Worse, blustery days seem to call for comfort foods, which are usually packed with carbohydrates. If you’re loading up on creamy pastas and buttery homemade breads to get you through the winter, expect to spend a fair amount of time feeling sleepy and sluggish. However, if you want to feel great and have an abundance of energy to get you through, high-protein snacks are the cure. We have the skinny on which snacks are not only delicious but protein-laden, too.
While you can mash nearly any soft vegetable to get hummus, this tasty dip’s traditional ingredient is garbanzo beans. Garbanzo beans are legumes, just like kidney beans and peanuts. And they’re delightful as creamy, protein-packed hummus. Hummus made from garbanzo beans, also called chick peas, contains more than 7 grams of protein per serving, and it gives your favorite chip, carrot stick, or bok choy stalk a zesty tang that’s almost addictive.
2. Kale Chips
Kale is another good-for-you veggie that’s easily transformed into snack form. Kale chips are healthy alternatives to your favorite greasy potato chip, and they usually have 7 or more grams of protein per serving, depending upon the ingredients used. Kale chips may contain sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast, and other healthful foods that boost flavor. Or, they may simply be dehydrated pieces of kale that lend a satisfying crunch to snack time.
3. Trail Mix
Trail mix is the ultimate, feel-good treat when you’re craving that sweet/salty combination. And if you toss together the right ingredients, you’ll crank up the protein level. For instance, by adding almonds, peanuts, walnuts, banana chips, and dried fruits, such as apricots, to traditional granola, you can increase protein to 4 or 5 grams per serving.
4. Roasted Chick Peas
Chick peas don’t have to be mashed to be snackable. You can roast them, too. Once drained, rinsed, and roasted, they get crunchy. This makes them a perfect addition to salads or even pizza. And you can season them anyway you choose. Try adding chili powder, curry, or smoked paprika for a satisfying flavor sensation.
5. High-Protein Cereal
Some cereals are more sugar and carbs than protein, so be careful which ones you snack on. However, other cereals, like the Magic Spoon brand, are designed to be a healthful, satisfying snack. Look for cereals that are high in protein (Magic Spoon tops out around 14 grams per bowl), and low in sugar and other carbohydrates.
6. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is a great source of protein, and it’s beloved the world over. Spread it on whole wheat toast, mix it in your morning oats, or use it as a tasty dip for apple slices, celery sticks, or a dark chocolate bar. Peanut butter averages around 7 grams of protein per serving, which is a hefty 2 tablespoons — more than enough to satisfy your late-night snack tooth.
7. Greek Yogurt
Greek yogurt is another high-protein alternative to traditional snacks such as chips and candy. It’s easily tucked away in a lunch bag or refrigerator, and it packs a walloping 20 grams of protein in a one-cup serving. Add berries, granola, or chia seeds to up the health factor. Or, use it as a cool, creamy dipping sauce for bananas or orange wedges.
For those who eat dairy, cheese is a fun and easy source of protein. String cheese, cheese chunks, or cheese slices on whole wheat toast will get you easily from lunch through the rest of the long work day. A single serving of cheddar may have up to 9 grams of protein, which makes it a fine addition to salads and fruit plates. But if you want the biggest bang for your protein buck, try cottage cheese or a sprinkling of parmesan. Cottage cheese tops the chart at over 11 grams of protein per serving, and parmesan adds an impressive 10.2 grams.
Meats are good sources of protein, but they can also be fatty — and not in a good way. Fish, such as tuna and salmon, are better alternatives when you’re craving something more filling than fruits or veggies. While they do contain fat, it’s omega-3 fatty acids that are actually beneficial for your heart. Plus, there are roughly 29 grams of protein in a 3-oz serving of tuna, and next to no calories — the perfect way to boost your performance in the late afternoon.
10. Chicken Breast
Chicken breast is a good choice, too. Chop it fine, and mix it up into a spread for crackers, or cube it to top off your favorite salad. However you choose to devour chicken breast, you’ll find it tasty and filled with protein — as much as 27 grams in a 3-oz serving.
If you’re determined to have more energy this year, healthy proteins are the way to go. Regardless whether you follow a plant-based, keto, or Mediterranean way of eating, you can’t go wrong with protein. Ideally, someone who weighs 165 pounds requires roughly 60 grams of protein in any given day, more if that person is athletic. So, stock up where you can, and you’ll have plenty of energy to help you cruise through winter.