7 high protein meals

Emma White - Nutritionist

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You can't help but notice the number of products that now flash 'High in protein' on pack – so what's the big deal about protein? Far from it being a nutrient for bodybuilders, protein is a great nutrient when you're trying to lose weight because it's proven to be more satisfying.

The science

The satiating effect of protein is all down to its molecular structure. Protein is made up of long chains of amino acids which are linked together with strong bonds. The structure takes more work for our body to breakdown and absorb than fats or carbohydrates, meaning it stays in our stomach longer and keeps us feeling fuller. This makes protein a valuable nutrient to include in our diet – especially when trying to reduce calorie intake to lose weight.

Tips for getting more protein in

  1. Include protein with every meal/snack.
  2. Choose wholegrain carbs versus refined carbs as these contain more protein.
  3. Increase the protein part of your meal slightly, while reducing the starchy carb portion to compensate.

Meat free Mondays

Tofu, Broccoli & Cashew Stir Fry

Tofu, broccoli & cashew stir fry

Serves 2 - 516 kcals per serving (19% protein)

Kcals 516
Fat 20.8g
Sat fat 3.5g
Carbs 60.9g
Sugar 18.4g
Fibre 11.4g
Protein 21.9g
Salt 2.02g

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Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 100g broccoli florets
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 400g mixed vegetable stir fry pack
  • 200g tofu
  • 1½ tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 30g unsalted cashew nuts
  • 250g cooked wholegrain rice

Method

  1. Place a wok over a medium-high heat and add the sesame oil. Once hot add the broccoli and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Next add the chilli and garlic, and cook for a further 2 minutes before adding the stir fry veg and tofu. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the hoisin and soy sauce to the wok along with the nuts, and heat through for 2 minutes. Serve hot with wholegrain brown rice.

Tasty Tuesdays

Turkey Meatballs with Courgetti

Turkey meatballs with courgetti

Serves 2 - 467 kcals per serving (60% protein)

Kcals 467
Fat 6.1g
Sat fat 1.6g
Carbs 33.8g
Sugar 29.1g
Fibre 9.1g
Protein 70g
Salt 1.93g

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Ingredients

  • Low-cal cooking spray
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 500g lean turkey mince
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 200g tomato passata
  • 1 tsp mixed dried herbs
  • 100g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Few sprigs fresh basil, chopped
  • 400g courgette, sliced into ribbons or courgetti strips

Method

  1. Place a frying pan over a medium heat and heat the low-cal cooking spray. Cook 1 onion and 1 garlic clove for 4-5 minutes until starting to soften.
  2. Meanwhile mix the turkey mince and the rest of the onion and garlic, tomato puree and season well. Shape the mixture into golf ball-sized rounds.
  3. Add the turkey balls to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes, turning frequently.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, passata and dried herbs and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the cherry tomatoes and fresh basil to the pan, and cook for a further 3-4 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, soften the courgetti in a pan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes, drain and divide between two shallow bowls or plates.
  7. Top the courgetti with the turkey meatballs and sauce.

Wellness Wednesdays

Mixed Bean & Quinoa Stew

Mixed bean & quinoa stew

Serves 4 - 300 kcals per serving (21% protein)

Kcals 300
Fat 4g
Sat fat 0.6g
Carbs 51.3g
Sugar 15.9g
Fibre 13.2g
Protein 15.7g
Salt 0.73g

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Ingredients

  • Low-cal cooking spray
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 red chilli, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 400g tin kidney beans, drained
  • 400g tin butter beans, drained
  • 150g dried quinoa
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 200ml water
  • Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper

Method

  1. Place a frying pan over a medium heat and heat the low-cal cooking spray. Cook the onion and garlic for 4-5 minutes until starting to soften.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes, chilli, pepper, carrot, beans, quinoa, chilli powder, ground coriander and water to the pan.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30-40 minutes until the carrot has started to soften and the quinoa is cooked through.
  4. About 5 minutes before serving, add the fresh coriander and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with more coriander.

Thrifty Thursdays

Spanish Omelette

Spanish omelette
(£1.27 per serving)

Serves 2 - 466 kcals per serving (25% protein)

Kcals 466
Fat 21.1g
Sat fat 7.1g
Carbs 41.5g
Sugar 10.1g
Fibre 6.1g
Protein 29.7g
Salt 1.7g

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Ingredients

  • 400g new potatoes, cut into 1cm thick slices
  • Low-cal cooking spray
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 30g pitted green olives
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 6 medium eggs
  • 40g reduced-fat cheddar cheese, grated

Method

  1. Put the potato slices in a saucepan of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 6-8 minutes until starting to soften.
  2. Meanwhile, place a small-medium frying pan over a medium heat and heat the low-cal cooking spray. Cook the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes until starting to soften.
  3. Drain the potato slices and add to the pan along with the tomatoes and olives, and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Beat the eggs, season with salt and pepper and pour into the pan to evenly cover all the ingredients.
  5. Reduce the heat to low-medium, and slowly cook the omelette through, checking the underneath doesn't start to burn. Meanwhile, turn the grill onto a medium heat.
  6. When the omelette is nearly cooked through, top with the grated cheddar and place under the grill for 2 minutes until the cheese has melted.

Fish Fridays

Salmon with crushed potatoes & pesto

Salmon with crushed potatoes & pesto

Serves 2 - 581 kcals per serving (24% protein)

Kcals 581
Fat 31g
Sat fat 5.2g
Carbs 43.5g
Sugar 8.4g
Fibre 9.6g
Protein 34.5g
Salt 0.61g

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Ingredients

  • 400g new potatoes, halved (skins on)
  • Low-cal cooking spray
  • 2 x 125g salmon fillets
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 20ml olive oil
  • 20g reduced fat basil pesto
  • 320g mixed vegetables, steamed

Method

  1. Place the new potatoes in a saucepan of water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 12-15 minutes until cooked.
  2. Lightly spray a griddle pan with low-cal cooking spray and set over a medium heat. When the pan is hot, cook the salmon fillets for 5-7 minutes each side.
  3. Drain and coarsely mash the new potatoes and divide between two shallow bowls or plates, creating a flattened mound in the middle. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle over the olive oil.
  4. Place the salmon fillets on top and top with the pesto. Serve with the steamed veg.

Spicy Saturdays

Fiery chicken fajitas with lettuce wraps

Fiery chicken fajitas with lettuce wraps

Serves 2 - 435 kcals per serving (57% protein)

Kcals 435
Fat 11g
Sat fat 5.1g
Carbs 22g
Sugar 16.5g
Fibre 7.3g
Protein 62.5g
Salt 2.47g

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Ingredients

  • Low-cal cooking spray
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 medium chilli, finely sliced
  • 1 green pepper, deseeded and cut into strips
  • 400g skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
  • ½ sachet fajita seasoning mix
  • 6 iceberg lettuce leaves, washed and patted dry with kitchen paper
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • 60g reduced-fat cheddar cheese, grated
  • 60g low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 60g tomato salsa

Method

  1. Lightly spray a large frying pan with low-cal cooking spray and set over a medium heat. Cook the onion, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add the chilli and pepper and cook for a further 3-4 minutes. Then add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Sprinkle over half the fajita seasoning, mix everything together, add the remaining seasoning and stir well.
  4. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink inside.
  5. Divide the chicken mix between the lettuce leaves. Top with the grated carrot and chopped spring onion.
  6. Serve with the cheddar, Greek yogurt and salsa.

Sumptuous Sundays

Slow cooked beef curry

Slow-cooked beef curry

Serves 4 - 484 kcals per serving (29% protein)

Kcals 484
Fat 16.6g
Sat fat 4.4g
Carbs 52.5g
Sugar 12.8g
Fibre 6.5g
Protein 34.7g
Salt 0.85g

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Ingredients

  • 500g lean brisket beef joint
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 red chillies, deseeded and diced
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 400ml water
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 500g wholegrain brown rice, cooked according to pack instructions
  • Fresh coriander

Method

  1. Coat a large frying pan with half the oil and set over a medium-high heat. Brown the beef joint then place into the slow cooker.
  2. Coat the pan with the rest of the oil and cook the onions for 5 minutes, then add the garlic, chilli and ginger and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Transfer to the slow cooker.
  3. Add all the spices and chopped tomatoes to the slow cooker, along with 400ml of water. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Mix everything together in the slow cooker and ensure all ingredients are covered with water, if not, add a little more.
  5. Cook on the low setting for 7-8 hours.
  6. About half an hour before serving, taste and season as necessary.
  7. Before serving, gently break up the meat into chunks. Serve with 125g cooked rice per serving and garnish with coriander.

Nutritionist Emma White (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.

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