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Seven Protein-Packed Snacks for Energy and Health

April 1, 2014

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Essential amino acids aren’t called that for nothing. These compounds play a pivotal role in synthesizing one of the most important molecules our body processes: protein. Every cell in your body contains protein and relies on it to repair and maintain itself, building and sustaining your muscles, skin, glands, and other organs.

There are over 20 different types of amino acids found in protein-rich foods, and nine of those amino acids are considered essential, meaning you must obtain them through your diet. To get all the amino acids you need, it’s important to not only eat enough protein, but to get your protein from a variety of sources. As a general rule, women should get 46 grams of protein a day through their diet, while men should get 56 grams daily. Eating the same egg whites or handful of almonds can get old, so to help you meet your minimum, here are seven delicious, creative, and simple protein-rich snacks to add to your rotation:  

1. Garbanzo and Walnut Salad

This garbanzo bean and walnut salad is full of health benefits, and is perfect for a snack and filling enough for a meal. Garbanzo beans are known as one of the world’s healthiest foods because of their protein, fiber, and antioxidant, while walnuts provide protein, vitamin E, and antioxidants, and contain anti-inflammatory properties that can decrease the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. This salad is packed with 21 grams of protein and 15 grams of fiber.

Just toss 1 cup garbanzo beans, ¼ cup raw walnuts, 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, and 1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro together in a large bowl, stirring to coat all ingredients.

2. Extra-Protein Deviled Eggs

Traditionally prepared deviled eggs are a favorite indulgence among many, but they contain saturated-fat laden mayonnaise, which isn’t great for your heart health. Enjoy this healthy twist on deviled eggs that replaces unhealthy mayonnaise with protein-rich yogurt. All in all, these tasty little treats give you 16 grams of protein. If you use pasture-raised eggs, you’ll also get an extra dose of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E.

Simply peel two hard-boiled eggs and cut them in half lengthwise, then scoop the yolks into a bowl. Combine the yolks with ¼ cup yogurt of your choice, ¼ teaspoon paprika, and salt and pepper to taste, mashing all ingredients together with a fork until yolks are smooth. Scoop the yolk mixture back into the egg white halves and serve!

3. Avocado Cashew Boat

This snack is packed full of protein, fiber, and good fats, such as oleic acid, which lowers the risk of heart disease, and polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols, which reduces inflammation in the body. This quick, tasty avocado cashew boat will give you 10 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber.

To make, cut an avocado in half, peel off the skin, and remove the pit. Fill each half of the avocado with 1 ounce of raw, unsalted cashews. Drizzle ½ tablespoon of apple cider vinegar over each avocado half.

4. Black Bean Hummus and Carrot Sticks

This twist on hummus is tasty, packed with protein, and quick to make. You not only get 15 grams of protein from this snack, you also get a healthy dose of vitamin A to promote good vision and skin. Look for red and purple carrots at your local farmer’s and you’ll also get a good source anthocyanin and lycopene, both of which are powerful antioxidants.

Add 1 cup drained canned black beans, 1 peeled clove garlic, 1 tablespoon tahini, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper to a blender and blend until smooth. Scoop up with carrots!

5. Banana Almond Smoothie

A smoothie is a great snack to get you through to the next meal, especially this banana almond smoothie, which has 19.5 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber. In addition, banana is a rich source of nutrients, including vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, potassium, biotin, and copper, and can help protect eyesight, promote kidney health and heart health, and soothe stomach ulcers.

Simply blend 2 peeled bananas, ¼ cup unsalted almond butter, and 1 cup dairy or non-dairy milk of your choice to a blender and blend until smooth. Drink up!

6. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are a healthy, protein-rich snack that require no preparation. You can easily grab a handful of pumpkin seeds for a snack to get a good source of protein, as well as plenty of nutrients and antioxidants. Pumpkin seeds are rich in vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, potassium, biotin, and copper, and they contain a wide variety of antioxidants such as alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, delta-tocopherol, alpha-tocomonoenol and gamma-tocomonoenol, phenolic acids hydroxybenzoic, caffeic, coumaric, ferulic, sinapic, protocatechuic, vanillic, and syringic acid. Now that’s a mouthful! This diverse combination of antioxidants helps prevent diabetes, fight cancer, and improve prostate health. You also get 12 grams of protein per cup of pumpkin seeds.

7. Crispy Fava Beans

These crispy fava beans are so tasty that you’ll want to eat them by the handful—and guess what, you can, because they are super healthy! You will get 10 guilt free grams of protein per cup, and absolutely no bad cholesterol.

Just spread 1 cup of de-podded fava beans on a baking pan, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and bake at 350°F for 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Do you have a go-to protein-rich snack? Tell us in the comments!