It’s time to explore some alternatives! And you can start with these recipes that add just as much flavor, nutrition and variety to any meal.
This vegetarian staple meshes well with Asian-inspired dishes, including stir-fry and pad thai, or with a peanut sauce over noodles. For a twist, blend it into guacamole, chili or smoothies for added protein.
Nuts and seeds
Reduce carbohydrates in salads by substituting sunflower seeds or pine nuts for croutons. Use ground nuts to create a crust on protein dishes: pistachios on lamb or steak and almonds on tilapia or halibut.
They add a great nutty flavor to dishes. To eliminate the fishiness, soak in a shallow bowl of milk for 30 minutes. They’re great on pizza or finely diced in a salad for a tangy alternative to crumbled bacon.
Mussels make a quick and easy supper. Bake at 350º F for 7-10 minutes; they’re done when they pop open. Then quickly remove from oven and stuff with crumbled cooked bacon and sautéed leeks. Try them in pasta or by themselves in tomato sauce with crusty bread. Remember to thoroughly rinse mussels several times before cooking to remove excess grit, but never soak them underwater. Check my delicious recipe for Sauteed Mussels and Fennel Sausage in Tomato Broth.
I love to puree beans with garlic and herbs for a healthy dip or spread. A touch of olive oil or water can be added to thin the dip if needed. Sneak extra protein into kids’ diets by adding beans to soups, salads, quesadillas and burritos. In fact, you might like my Mexican Casserole with Beans and Rice.
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a gluten-free protein source that’s high in amino acids. It can be substituted for rice or couscous. Thoroughly rinse in a fine strainer or cheesecloth to remove the bitter taste. To bring out its nutty flavor, cook in two parts boiling water to one part quinoa.
Boil and quarter sweet potatoes, then throw them on the grill to crisp up the outer layer. They are a lower-carbohydrate alternative to French fries or potato chips. Try sweet potato pancakes or mashed sweet potatoes with lime and chipotle.
I buy prepared gnocchi to save time. Cook according to directions and add a cream reduction with lemon, tomato sauce or sage brown butter. When making a cream reduction, I pour cream in a wide pan and measure its depth with the handle of a spoon. I simmer it over low heat until the mixture is reduced by one half, then add herbs or garnish.
Prosciutto is a protein source that packs a lot of flavor. Bake strips of prosciutto and let them cool, then crumble over soup, baked potatoes or salads. Try pizza with prosciutto and arugula, or prosciutto-wrapped halibut. For a party, check out my recipe for Roasted Asparagus Bundles with Prosciutto and Fontina.
Ready to explore delicious ways with protein? What alternatives are you considering for your next meal?