14 healthy dishes with 20 grams of protein

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woman eatingBrooklyn Bridge Boot Camp founder and star nutritionist Ariane Hundt is protein’s biggest fan. Her must-know reasons? Protein makes you full, signals your body to burn fat, and feeds your muscles for a toned, lean look.

Hundt recommends eating 20 grams of protein five times a day, whether you're looking to maintain your weight, lose pounds, or gain muscle mass. “One-hundred grams of protein is an average number,” says Hundt. “It’s a moderate protein diet.”

But hitting that number is not always a piece of cake (or steak). “Vegetarians or vegans have to rely on soy, beans, grains, and protein powder to make it work,” she says.

We picked Hundt’s brain to create these 14 simple, protein-packed dishes—for vegans and carnivores alike—to make it easy to hit your protein quota. —Amy Eley and Melisse Gelula

Photo: Olivecocomag.com

Kale & Tofu SaladKale & Tofu Salad (17g)

“Finding protein sources that are not from animal sources is a challenge,” shares Hundt. But it’s one you can conquer with this kale & tofu salad.

Raw kale (4g)
Tahini (3g)
1/4 cup avocado (1g)
Diced Organic Baked Fresh Tofu (9g)

Photo: Weheartit.com

Quinoa BowlQuinoa Bowl (18g)

Quinoa and lentils team up in this dish to deliver a protein punch.

1 cup quinoa (8g)
1/2 cup lentils (9g)
1/2 cup roasted tomatoes (1g)

Photo: Pinterest

Chocolate Chia Pudding
Chocolate Chia Pudding (21g)

This chocolate chia pudding is great for any meal, including dessert.

1 large pitted date (0g)
1 tbsp chia seeds (2g)
1 cup almond milk (5g)
1 scoop Nature's Plus Spiru-Tein Whey Chocolate Protein Powder (14g)
1 tsp cinnamon powder (0g)

Photo: Pinterest



Vega OnePlant-Protein Smoothie (16g)

Hundt recommends Vega Protein Powder in smoothies for those who don't want whey.

1 handful of spinach (1g)
1/2 cup blueberries (0g)
1 scoop of Vega One Protein Powder (15g)

Photo: Google

Almond ButterAlmond Butter Toast (21g)

Hundt would want you to be wary of the amount of carbs in this meal, if you're trying to lose weight. So you can split this recipe in half to trim them back.

Two slices toasted Ezekiel 4:9 Flax Sprouted Whole Grain Bread (10g)
2 tablespoons PB2 Powdered Peanut Butter (5g)
1 hard boiled egg (6g)

Photo: Pinterest

Tofu SteaksTofu Steaks over Mashed Cauliflower (23g)

When it's roasted and mashed, cauliflower stands in for potatoes as a creamy comfort food.

Mashed cauliflower (11g; whole cauliflower recipe yields 23g)
Tofu steaks (Organic Baked Fresh Tofu, 9g per serving)
1 cup broccoli (3g)

Photo: Pinterest

Cauliflower SteakRoasted Cauliflower Steak and Lentils (23g)

Surprise! One large head of cauliflower has 20 grams of protein.

Roasted cauliflower steak (7g)
1/2 cup lentils (9g)
1 cup wilted spinach (2g)
1 oz. crumbled goat cheese (5g)

Photo: Pinterest

SalmonGrilled Salmon with Broccoli (21g)

To hit 20gs, Hundt recommends choosing a piece of fish that's the size and thickness of your palm.

3-4 oz. grilled Salmon (19g)
1 cup broccoli (3g)

Photo: Pinterest

SashimiTuna Sashimi (21g)

Skip the flimsy carbohydrates from white rice in your maki rolls and order the sashimi at your fave sushi place.

Three 1-oz pieces of tuna sashimi (21g)

Photo: Flickr

Oatmeal Oatmeal with Blueberries (22.5g)

Hundt recommends no more than 10 blueberries to moderate sugar intake.

2/3 cup of steel-cut oats (19g)
10 blueberries (1g)
1/2 cup of almond milk (2.5g)

Photo: Pinterest

Egg SaladEgg Salad (35g)

Instead of mayo in your egg salad, use Greek yogurt for a healthy (yet tangy) higher protein lunch.

Egg salad (2.5 eggs is 15g)
Plain Greek yogurt (17–20g carbs)
Celery (0g) and sliced cucumbers (0g) for dipping

Photo: Pinterest

Collard WrapCollard Wrap with Edamame Hummus (14g)

In this sandwich wrap, collard greens serve as your "tortilla." Spread your favorite hummus over the greens and roll it up.

Collard greens (4g)
Edamame hummus (8g)
Cheese of choice (Daiya 1g; traditional 5–8g per oz.)
1/2 cup tomato (1g)

Photo: Pinterest

Bean & Greens Soup Pinto Beans, Roast Peppers & Kale Soup (18g)

Sprinkle an ounce of grated Parmesan (1g) on this dish for a little extra protein.

Photo and recipe: Food52.com

Cottage CheeseCottage Cheese with Apples and Cinnamon (20g)

Hundt suggests choosing low-sodium, low-fat cottage cheese for this easy protein breakfast.

3/4 cup small curd cottage cheese (20g)
Sliced apples
Dash of cinnamon

Photo: Pinterest


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24 Comments | ADD YOURS

  1. February 1st, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Per Harvard.edu: “The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults get a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight per day—that’s about 58 grams for a 160 pound adult.” After Sandy, I used these guidelines to determine the minimum protein I would need to consume every day if the food supply chain caused a serious shortage. A can of Whey goes a long way.

  2. February 1st, 2013 at 11:35 am

    ??? 100 grams of protein is a moderate level?

    This is a recommendation for everyone; all ages and activity levels?

    What is the low to high range of adequate protein, in your view?

    Are there any disadvantages to a sustained high protein diet?

    Thank You

  3. February 1st, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Recommending 100 grams a day for everyone, regardless of weight, activity level etc. does not sit well with me. I have been involved in nutrition as a vegetarian for many years, and while we all need protein for health and functioning, we do not all need the same amount of protein, not always even as much as the USDA recommends (unless you are a serious athlete who is constantly repairing tissue … ) Too much protein can cause more problems in the long run over eating a more balanced diet. Everyone should do his or her own research or speak with a nutritionist, and definitely take into consideration your activity level. Serious athletes need much more protein than a moderately active person …

  4. February 1st, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    That’s wayyyy too much protein (at least for most people) And by the way, protein excess can also deplete calcium from bones and lead to osteoporosis…

  5. February 1st, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    It would have been helpful to compare these recommendations to what is considered standard.

  6. February 1st, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    That is FAR too much protein! Most women only need about 45 grams of protein per day (of course this is an average and it varies per person). Protein overload can damage the kidneys. There is so much focus on protein consumption that most people are eating a lot more than they need at the expense of other important nutrients just to achieve that “chiseled” look.

  7. February 1st, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    sorry you can keep your soy products. I do not care for any extra phyto estrogens in my body

  8. February 1st, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    Thank you for your comments. 100 grams of protein per day equates to about 20 grams per meal. This is not a high-protein diet, but a moderate protein diet. Research has not shown that too much protein strains the kidneys, unless one is predisposed with renal issues.

    It is interesting that people always scream “that’s too much protein”. 45 grams per day is not nearly enough to satisfy basic protein needs. This little would result in muscle loss and lowered immunity, including phosphorus depletion. Why is it that nobody says “wait a second, you’re recommending we eat THAT many carbohydrates a day!?” when reading government guidelines telling us to average 300g of carbs per day. This recommended amount would result in weight gain, high cholesterol, potentially pre-diabetes (if the carbs come in the form of sugar, grains, lots of dairy…) and lead to obesity, with which we as a country are battling already.

    Too much protein can deplete calcium. However, for that to happen the intake would have to be far higher than just 100 grams per day. The active person who exercises regularly should aim to eat about 1g of protein per body weight, so my recommendations are not overboard.

    The key is to balance your diet with adequate protein and carbohydrates and good fats. There is much research available illustrating the numerous health benefits of a moderate protein diet paired with fibrous carbs.

    I do want to note, however, that everyone’s needs differ on their health status, muscle mass, exercise status, etc, so these are general recommendations and naturally your specific needs can be discussed with your nutritionist.

  9. February 4th, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Whoa, I’m baffled that W&G would publish this kind of recommendation without verifying with certified nutritionists/dieticians or fact checking with scientific literature. Recommending how many grams of protein to eat per day is a serious matter, not to be taken lightly. A simple and general statement like Hundt’s without elaborating on the nuances with age, weight, existing health conditions, level and type of exercise, overall food and other supplements intake etc…is misleading and potentially dangerous.

  10. February 11th, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    y doctor says to get 40-60, shooting for 60 and always eat carbs with protein. But, I went away and learned the vegan life and they said 15. I have now left being a militant vegan and find that the higher level(40-60) makes me feel very much stronger.

  11. April 18th, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Uh, I just read this as recommendations for one meal. I don’t think it was suggesting that one should eat three square meals of these high protein recipes. For vegetarians and those on specific diets, protein can be a challenge especially at the workplace or for those are challenged in the kitchen. I enjoyed the slide show – thank you!

  12. April 23rd, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    This article is not well written. Intake of protein varies from one person to the next, based on activity levels, age, gender and weight.

  13. April 25th, 2013 at 1:21 am

    Most people have no problem getting enough carbs, although they could probably do a better job of reducing the refined carbs and sugars – and focusing on complex grains, veggies, etc.

    I do see a lot of people dropping the ball more often on protein. Personally I use a cold processed whey protein shake in the morning and/or between meals which made a huge impact on how I feel and look. As a 165 lb. active male I do good on about 80 grams a day of protein. Using unheated whey and hemp shakes makes this a lot easier as I backed off the meat a bit a while back…

  14. Jamie
    May 5th, 2013 at 12:26 am

    Some of the meals look delicious. Thank you. I’m loving Quinoa just now. A nice, light, very nutritious substitute for rice. And a complete protein source also. That is, all amino essential amino acids are present for protein synthesis.

    Agree that 100 grams of protein, depending on body weight and individual training exercise regimes, could be a little much.

  15. August 2nd, 2013 at 3:33 am

    Every person’s protein needs will vary. It’s best to check with a physician or nutritionist first before applying a cookie-cutter guideline to your personal dietary needs.

  16. August 3rd, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Wow! I love these recipes especially Tofu and Kale salad. I would also like to try Tofu steaks over mashed cauliflower. Thanks for sharing! :-)

  17. November 20th, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    I thought the protein ratio was to take a persons body weight, divide that in half and add ten…that would be the goal per day…I was told 60 to 80 g unless I was having surgery or something major then no more than 100…and I am four foot eleven and weight 134

  18. December 30th, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    It is true that too much protein is not healthy and we get more than we need from our diets in general, however, aging men and women need high quality sources of protein throughout the day to prevent sarcopenia (muscle wasting). This occurs to some extent even in active older adults. The current recommendation to prevent sarcopenia and promote insulin sensitivity and muscle synthesis is 20g of protein per meal. Studies have shown that any less than that is not protective. Whey protein is a good way to incorporate protein into the day. Obviously, there are variations, health conditions/concerns that would require adjustments, but we do need more high quality protein daily as we age.

  19. November 14th, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    Protein is found throughout the body—in muscle, bone, skin, hair, and virtually every other body part or tissue.

  20. November 26th, 2014 at 5:43 am

    Thank you so much for these recipe ideas! I will transform them into my daily nutrition. Great to see this advise and or suggestions xx

  21. May 4th, 2015 at 10:44 am

    What a great post! I was looking for some new recipes on how to incorporate more protein in my diet. Thanks!

  22. November 17th, 2015 at 11:27 am

    This is a great post! Ariane has helped me with my nutrition in the past and I have lost over 25lbs, maintained the weigh loss and continue on my healthy eating and exercise journey. She is a knowledgeable nutritionist and trainer, the best I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Being 55 and seeing results that last is not easy but when you get expert advise from someone who not only cares but knows exactly how to help its truly priceless!!
    Thanks Ariane!

  23. January 3rd, 2016 at 7:20 am

    The only time I have ever heard to include 100g of protein in my diet was when I’m pregnant. I’m actually pregnant again now that’s why this article will be perfect for me. 100 g is hard to reach everyday and it’s never been recommended to me when I’m just eating for one.

  24. January 3rd, 2016 at 11:31 am

    100 grams of protein sounds insane for me. Is that a typo?

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