With the modern family dinner table featuring vegetarians, athletes, ravenous teens and plain-eaters, for many parents it can be tricky to think of creative ways to include protein in your family's diet, in a way that suits everyone's varying tastes. Not to mention factoring in just how much protein each family member needs, while also crafting three balanced and -- of course -- delicious meals.
Typically, healthy adult women aged 19-70 years old need around 46g of protein daily, while adult males aged 19-70 years old need around 64g (depending on weight and exercise levels) . Kids varied requirements are dependent on their weight and age -- but a toddler will require around 14g, and a pre-teen around 40g.
However, regardless of the requirements there are still plenty of easy -- and often unexpected -- options for ensuring a protein hit for everyone, in every meal. "A diet's so much more interesting when it's varied so in addition to the more common sources, think nuts, tofu and bread when it comes to protein," says Accredited Dietitian Melanie McGrice. Here's five simple ways your family can add a protein punch.
1. GET A BOOST AT BREAKFAST
According to nutritionist Melanie McGrice, protein is our body's "building block". More specifically, it contributes to the growth of muscle mass, the maintenance of muscle mass and normal bones, and tissue building and repair. Which is certainly decent motivation to start the day with a bowl of porridge with milk and chia. "The oats are slow release so will keep everyone feeling full until lunchtime and the milk and chia seeds pack a protein punch," says Melanie. Keep the kids -- little and big! -- happy by sweetening it up with a banana or grated apple. Alternatively, go to work or school on an egg or two. "Eggs contain around 6g of protein so they're a perfect protein packed start to the day. Other protein-packed options would be to have toasted white bread and baked bean jaffle for breakfast or peanut butter -- nuts are protein powerhouses too -- on toast." For the kids in the family who do prefer white to wholemeal, white bread with added protein is also now available in most local supermarkets.
2. A PROTEIN PACKED LUNCH
According to registered nutritionist Kristen Beck, a cup of baked beans on toast is a great way to source protein at lunchtime. "You've got your protein in your bread. Plus, baked beans contain around 13g of protein," she says. Otherwise, get a sneaky protein fix by adding some legumes like lentils or cannelloni beans to a home-made veggie or chicken soup. "Legumes are protein powerhouses, they're filling but they're lower calorie too so if the kids aren't keen on lumps, blend them into the soup so they'll never know," says Kristen. If you, your partner or the kids are fans of simple sandwiches, they can be protein powerhouses too. "In addition to the protein you'll get in your bread – whether it's white, wholegrain or wholemeal – you can also fill it with protein-rich ingredients like chicken or cheese," says Melanie. And for kids - big and small - who prefer white bread, many supermarkets now offer options with extra protein. Filling, nutritious and delicious sarnies – what's not to like?
3. DO DINNER DIFFERENTLY
Red and white meat and fish are all good sources of protein but if you're keen to cut back on your intake or the kids aren't keen on meat - or you've got a growing teen who's impossible to fill up - why not try tofu? "It's lower in kilojoules so you can eat more," says Melanie. "The trick is to marinade it beforehand so no one can complain that it's bland. I like to coat it in a little sweet chilli sauce and stir fry it – it only needs heating through – or marinade it in lemon juice, garlic, and herbs. It's tasty, filling and an excellent source of protein."
4. SNACK SMART
When the mid morning munchies strike – or the kids pile in the door after school – protein rich snacks will fill everyone up. 'Take nuts – almonds, pecans or walnuts or pumpkin seeds to work to snack on at 11," says Kristen. "Or try a nut butter on celery." Two tablespoons of nut butter with celery or apple is equal to 8g of protein. Or go a mid arvo protein-rich smoothie made with milk, yoghurt, fruit and chia or pack some homemade hummous – chickpeas are full of protein – with some veggie sticks in the kid's school lunches. "That's an easy way to get around 7g of protein into your diet right there," says Kristen. Fussy eaters? Even the pickiest kid will enjoy some protein-rich cheese toastie soldiers or jaffle. So. Good.
5. TAKE RISKS - YES, REALLY!
Stock up on spirulina, cottage and ricotta chesses, mussels, quinoa – and bagels, especially when topped with smoked salmon and cream cheese - which are all protein-packed foods. If they're too fancy for the kids – or your meat and three veg fan partner - why not go a good old jacket potato with cheese? "It may not be flash but with the skin on – and the protein from the cheese too – you're looking at around a 7g serving,' says Melanie. And for those who simply can't resist favouring the familiar, tuck into some Vegemite on toast. It's practically Australia's national dish, and as well as extra protein in the fortified white bread, a teaspoon of Vegemite contains around 1.3g. Add some cheese, and you have a protein triple threat!
If you want a healthier loaf of Aussie white bread, Tip Top Extra Protein is the perfect choice. It has 75% more protein and is high in fibre. Tip Top loaves have no added sugar or artificial preservatives, and the white flour we use in our bread isn't bleached. If you want to learn more about why Tip Top Extra Protein is the right choice for your family, and discover interesting and healthy recipe ideas, visit www.tiptop.com.au/range/841/extra-protein