high protein snacks

Light Carb Snacks and Lunches

The hard part of any diet is being creative. It’s so easy to get into a rut and eat the same thing for days and days…Before you know it, you’re completely burned out on eating salads every day and all you want is a big burrito or slice of pizza!

When I decided to try limiting my carb intake, I struggled to find quick and easy lunches I could take to work. When I’m home it’s easy to figure out something but I needed stuff that was easily packed ahead of time.

I bought some containers that have compartments to make it easier to transport several different things without a big mess. I love this and this! So far they work great! No leaks, no mess. The dual compartment ones I have are fabulous. In one side I put some roasted veggies, the other side hummus or tuna salad.

So here are a few of my lunches and snacks I’ve been enjoying lately:

Lunches

Lunch #1

I do these “rollup” things. I take some sliced deli meat (it varies, ham, roast beef, turkey or pastrami, and sometimes I mix and match them together) with a slice of cheese and a little mustard and roll it up. I usually pack 2 for lunch. Sometimes I have pickles and olives with it.

Then I had some roasted veggies on the side. I love roasted veggies! And they are surprisingly filling. I usually do broccoli, onion, Brussels Sprouts, and carrots. (Sometimes I’ll add some sweet potatoes or butternut squash but I’m trying not do that right now.)

 

Lunch #2

I made some tuna salad. I took a can of tuna, added some mayo and mustard, diced carrots, diced onion, diced pickles and some seasoning. Instead of crackers I took cucumber slices. One day I had some cheddar slices with it and another day I had string cheese.

Lunch #3

I got some chile lime chicken burgers from Trader Joe’s that are super low in carbs and calories. I have a patty with cheese and some roasted veggies.

I also got butternut squash to add to my roasted veggies.

Also, some riced cauliflower and turkey meatballs. Yum! (Although the above photo is more for dinner than lunch.)

Lunch #4

Big salad with lettuce, carrots, avocado, Chipotle dressing and the pre-cooked chicken fajita strips (bought on a whim because they were marked down and they were actually pretty good!).

 

Lunch #5

Kind of of a hodge-podge of things. A hardboiled egg, some chopped ham, and roasted veggies.

Snacks

Snack #1

Plain Greek Yogurt with sliced strawberries.

Snack #2

Sliced apple with string cheese.

Snack #3

Pickles, black olives, jalapeno stuffed olives and some pistachios.

Snack #4

Cheese, Salami, olives.

Snack #5

I got a package of the Sargento Balanced Breaks–cheese, nuts and dried fruit. I could have easily made my own, but they were on sale so I picked up a package. They are a little higher in carbs than I’m looking for (12grams) but they are good for workout days.

I also had some celery and peanut butter that day.

Thoughts

I’ve gotten some pretty good ideas for more lunches and snacks that I’m going to try in the coming weeks. I think it’s important to switch things up each week so it doesn’t get monotonous and boring. When I was trying to lose 100 pounds 10 years ago I ate the same damn lunch every single day. Every day. No deviation–a turkey and cheese sandwich on low calorie bread with a serving of wheat thins. Man was I sick of that!!!

So I will do another post in a few weeks with other ideas I’ve tried!

QUESTION: What are your favorite snacks and lunches right now?

How to Eat More Protein

When I decided it was time to get serious again about losing the vacation weight and getting back on track, I struggled. I was hungry all the time. If you missed the post I wrote addressing hunger, check it out: Always Hungry? Here’s Why. I knew I needed to make some changes to my diet — not just getting back to my normal calorie range and reducing the amount of sugar I eat. I needed to eat more protein.

I was poking around online trying to figure out how to change my diet and came across this article: 12 Signs You Need to Eat More Protein. A brief breakdown: You’re Always Hungry, You’re Cutting Calories, You’re Lifting Heavy Things, You’re Engaged in Chronic Cardio, You’ve Got Achy Joints, You’re Experiencing Chronic Stress. Those were the ones that spoke to me. Yep, yep, yep. While I’m not necessarily lifting heavy, I am trying to get back into the weight lifting routine. I am hungry a lot, I AM cutting my calories to lose the weight, and damn I’m always achy…

The answer: I need more protein.

Which I already knew. Eating healthy fats and good proteins are what will fill you up. Sure, you get hungry and grab a bagel or chips or other junk thinking it will curb the hunger but those empty calories and carby things don’t go the distance. At least not for me.

I’ve definitely got the dinner down. We eat a protein with a vegetable and a salad or quinoa. That’s a pretty typical dinner. We rotate between chicken breasts, salmon, shrimp, ground turkey, boneless pork chops, and steak. I don’t really need help sneaking in more protein at dinner, it’s the other meals.

veggie-protein

A typical breakfast for me has been eggs and gluten free toast. It works well for me. But lately I’ve tried to mix things up to see if I can get more mileage out of that breakfast. One example: when I was doing food prep for the week, I browned some spicy pork sausage to use for the week. For breakfast that week I scrambled two eggs and mixed in some of the pork sausage and topped it with avocado. It was a great breakfast! Tasty and filling and I wasn’t starving by the time my usual morning break came around.

One thing I decided to change: add egg whites. Two scrambled eggs are about 140 calories. Adding some egg whites only adds about 15-20 calories to that but it bulks up the scramble. Perfect. Adding veggies to the scramble is also a smart move. The vegetables add bulk in healthy ways. Some of my favorites that are higher in protein are spinach, kale and broccoli. Yum! Doing a Frittata/Quiche type dish for the week is a faster way to do breakfast and pack it with lots of high protein things. (Maybe I need to start doing these muffins for breakfast again.)

eggs

Back when Michael and I were doing the slow carb diet, we ate a TON of beans. You can get the food list here: Slow Carb Food List. Not really paleo-friendly, but I liked aspects of the slow-carb diet. Eating beans filled you up like you wouldn’t believe. Soybeans (edamame) are the highest protein but I am not a huge fan of eating soy so I try to limit that. Navy Beans have 15.8 grams of protein per serving; black beans have 15.2 grams; pinto beans have 14 grams per serving. Beans are really versatile, too. You can add them to eggs, burritos, wraps, salads, pretty much anything.

What about snacks? I think that’s where I need to get more protein. Typically I eat an apple for a morning snack. I am trying to add string cheese to that because the combination seems to be much more filling than either of those on their own. Here are some other ideas I came up with:

Peanut Butter with celery and raisins

Cottage Cheese (This is one of my favorite snacks because it doesn’t usually take much to satisfy me.)

Greek Yogurt (I prefer to use plain and then add nuts and fresh fruit to it)

Nuts (cashews and pistachios are my favorites)

Hard-boiled eggs

Beef Jerky 

Hummus with veggies

Veggie and meat wrap (I saw this on pinterest and it looks really good! Use lean deli meat like turkey)

Kefir (I love this stuff!)

Swiss cheese with fruit 

Almond Milk

Protein Bar (this is tricky because it can be high in sugar and carbs)

A protein shake is another tip I see online a lot. This is an iffy one for me. The problem is that most protein shakes don’t fill me up like food does. I’ve tried many times to supplement meals or snacks with a protein shake and I was hungry pretty quickly afterward. Another downside? Sugar. Protein shakes are often high in sugar. I like the Atkins protein shakes because they are low in calories and low in sugar/carbs. But again–it’s not filling me up like food does.

peanutbowl2

 

The trick is to find food that is high in protein but not high in calories! Nuts are very high in calories. Luckily I only have to eat a few of them to take the edge off my hunger and lately I’ve been pairing pistachios with a string cheese. That combination is pretty tasty, especially when I’m craving salty/crunchy foods.

I need some more ideas. What are your favorite ways to eat more protein?