Think of protein as the building blocks of our bodies. Needed by all of our cells, protein helps build cells when we are growing and helps repair cells that are damaged. Proteins are essential to our body’s healthy growth and development, particularly for children. Whether your family gets their protein from lean meats, fish, beans, tofu or nuts, try to include a taste of protein with each and every snack or meal.
• Balance your plate. Divide your plate in half, and fill one half with fruits and veggies. Next, divide the second half again, filling one quarter with whole grains and the other with lean protein. Now you have a balanced plate according to the latest tool from the USDA known as MyPlate. (Visit myplate.gov.)
This may seem fairly straightforward, yet as many families are making the switch to meatless meals, not everyone knows how to add protein in a nutritious manner. For a vegetarian option, replace the 3-4-ounce portion of meat, poultry or fish with beans, tofu, tempeh, seitan, edamame, nuts or seeds. All of these protein-rich foods are free from cholesterol and unhealthy fats.
• Go Greek. Greek-style yogurt seems to be one of the trendiest foods on the market, and for good reason: Greek-style yogurt contains more protein than most other yogurts. If you’re not willing to pay the extra cost for this protein-rich version, you can make your own at home simply by draining off the liquid of your usual yogurt with cheesecloth (recipe follows).
• Stock up. Keep protein-rich snacks such as boiled eggs, nutty trail mix or hummus on hand, and your entire family will be more likely to eat them.
Makes approximately 2 cups
1 quart plain yogurt
Cheesecloth, coffee filter or clean
1. Line bowl with cheesecloth or towel.
2. Pour yogurt onto the cloth.
3. Wrap the yogurt up by bringing the corners of the cloth together. Twist and squeeze the cloth around the yogurt to drain off as much liquid as possible into the bowl.
4. Once most of the liquid has been removed, tie the ends of the cloth together to prevent the yogurt from pouring out. Use a rubber band or string to close the ends.
5. Set the wrapped yogurt into a colander, place the colander over a bowl and set in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours or overnight.
6. Remove yogurt from the refrigerator and squeeze to remove any remaining liquids. Tip: It should have the consistency of sour cream.
7. Untie the cloth and scrape the thickened yogurt into a clean bowl and serve or refrigerate.
By Bridgett Hurley and Jessica Corwin, RD