Sneaky protein sources

Good morning <3 Happy humpday- hope it’s an amazing day for you. I loved reading your pet peeves and tips for gym etiquette- keep ‘em coming!

Since it’s still pretty chilly over here –we turned the heater on last night- all I wanted was something hot and toasty for breakfast.

Bowl of oats and hot dark chocolate almond milk:


-1/2 C oats

-1/2 scoop vanilla Sun Warrior

-1/2 Larabar

Since I’ve had to be more mindful of protein intake lately (for the class we’re taking), I was excited to see that this meal had 19g of protein. Not too shabby for something that wasn’t dependent on animal protein.


[That was my first week of tracking. We’ve been encouraged to get at least 75g per day, and I was low for a little while]

Keeping track of protein intake has also made me more aware of the hidden protein gems. Of course we all know about animal proteins, dairy, nuts, seeds and beans, but here are some of the more unique ones I’ve discovered:

Whole grains can be surprisingly high in protein. This morning’s oats: 7g

1 C cooked broccoli: 4g


Avocado: 4g

Sea vegetables- dulse is one of my favorites: 3g

larabar and dulse

1 C cooked spinach: 5g

wilted spinach

Baked potato (with skin): 4.5g

potatoes (2)

Nutritional yeast: 1.5 T contains 8g of protein (70 calories + essential amino acids)


So while these aren’t staggeringly high numbers (like 20g in half a chicken breast), it just goes to show that throughout the day, we’re getting little bits of protein here and there from many of the foods we consume.

So what’s the deal with amino acids and complete proteins?

A “complete protein” is referred to a balance of nine amino acids, which our bodies require everyday. Usually animal-derived proteins are considered complete, while a few plant-based sources (including quinoa, hempseed, buckwheat and spirulina) can also contain the proper balance of amino acids. This is why it’s important to get a balance of many different types of proteins (variety is the spice of life!) to ensure that your amino acid needs are met.

Here’s a challenge for you today, friends: check out the labels on the foods you’re eating (or Google a few meals to see what the protein content is like) and see if you’re surprised by any hidden protein gems. It’s fun to see how protein can sneak in there.

Have a great day <3



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  1. Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin on November 9, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    Wow I had no idea nooch had so much protein in it! That’s crazy!

  2. blossjoss on November 9, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    Peas have lots of protein too!

  3. Beth on November 9, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    I’ve been trying to track my protein, too, as a pregnant vegetarian. I was so surprised last week to find out how much avocados had. Every little bit helps. Thanks for the ideas!

  4. Marguerite Miller on November 9, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    I have the opposite problem! I am not supposed to have high protein, potassium or phosphates! (I am having Kidney issues)! Once I can actually see a nutritionist I will have a better idea of what to stay away from and what to eat plenty of!

  5. Joelle (On A Pink Typewriter) on November 9, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    This is such a helpful post!! I can’t believe broccoli has that much actually.

  6. Haley @ Fit, Young, and Fabulous on November 9, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    My favorite protein gem: Greek Yogurt! I love, love, love it! I have a cup of greek yogurt, a wholegrain tortilla, and three egg whites +spinach and my protein levels go cray cray! Great way to start off the morning! (:

  7. Laura@mypurposefullife on November 9, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    I love your ideas for sneaky protein sources! I actually just went veg this past week (eek!), so now I am really looking at labels for sources of protein to make sure I get enough for my activity level. The other day I had some really delicious Vegan, Macro Spelt “sushi” and they were SO good and I was shocked to see 19 grams of protein! You really can get enough protein from plant sources. 🙂

  8. kellyo on November 9, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    I’m always looking to increase my protein intake! Just for some perspective…our low tonight is going to be eleven degrees!!! I’m so jealous for your winters! 🙂

    • Fitnessista on November 9, 2011 at 11:02 pm

      11! i would die.

  9. Sara on November 9, 2011 at 10:27 pm

    Aaaand, of course you know that by mixing a grain and a legume you can make a complete protein. The limiting amino acid in grains is lysine (which is in legumes) and the limiting amino acids in legumes are methionine and cysteine (which you can get from grains). Hence many traditional foods have both – like beans and rice together. Also, sprouting and fermenting brings up the lysine content of grains by a lot. A sprouted, fermented cooked grain is a pretty good protein source… but who has the time for that kind of preparation?

  10. Lena @Fit on the Rocks on November 9, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    Chia seeds surprise me. For such a tiny little seed, those babies pack quite the nutritional punch!

    • Fitnessista on November 9, 2011 at 11:02 pm

      they definitely do! and they give foods a fun, unique texture 🙂

  11. Laura on November 10, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Ahhh, I love making my own hummus and using white beans instead. Ups the protein (esp with the tahini!!) and is still delicious 🙂

  12. Amanda on November 10, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Greens are one of the best sources of protein available, when you look at the %-age of calories from protein. Of course the trick is that greens have very few calories per serving, so you have to eat a lot of them to get the full protein benefits. But a friend of mine who is raw vegan gets almost all her protein from raw fruits and vegetables, and she swears by megasalads with lots of leafy greens in them.

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