Salad ain't cutting it, I want protein!
October 6, 2012 2:15 AM   Subscribe

I commute by bike, and ever since my commute tripled in distance, I've been coming home tired and hungry and and wanting to EAT ALL THE PROTEIN. Can you recommend some tasty, high protein vegetarian or pescetarian meals which I can either prepare in advance or throw together in the 20 or so minutes before severe post-workout hungry-crankiness sets in?

(I actually love the exercise, I just don't think I'm giving my body enough protein right now to fuel all I'm asking of it)
posted by embrangled to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
It's very hard to eat enough protein when you're working out. Have you considered eating protein powder?
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 2:28 AM on October 6, 2012

The cold weather's coming. Do you have a slow cooker? You can whack a bunch of lentils and veg in there before you leave in the morning, and come come to something hot and filling.
posted by colin_l at 2:45 AM on October 6, 2012

(... just checked your profile; sorry, wrong hemisphere...)
posted by colin_l at 2:45 AM on October 6, 2012

My default post-workout "I need protein" hits are chocolate milk, cottage cheese, and eggs - fried eggs, or egg salad in a wrap.
posted by flex at 2:47 AM on October 6, 2012 [3 favorites]

Good thought on the eggs. Boiled eggs keep will in the fridge, too.
posted by colin_l at 2:50 AM on October 6, 2012

snack on some slices of smoked tofu while you are preparing your dinner - very tasty, lots of protien, really satisfying.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:12 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

0% Greek yoghurt and cottage cheese are good quick sources of protein.

I'd also suggest oats (e.g. quick bowl of porridge - bonus points for dolloping yoghurt on top) and legumes (e.g. lentils, beans). Both have more protein than you might expect, and slow carbs which will probably also help your exercise recovery (replenishing glycogen and helping protein get delivered to the muscles which need it).
posted by ChristopherS at 5:47 AM on October 6, 2012

This isn't a meal to cook, per se, but I think it's worth mentioning. I recently discovered that Trader Joe's 0% fat Greek yogurt has 22 grams of protein for half the container (120 calories)! (!!!!!) It has no fat, obviously, and not too many carbs. Eat it plain, or toss in some berries or other fruit, or honey (if you can spare the extra calories), or put in a few drops of vanilla extract, and it's super tasty, filling, and has probably as much protein as a protein shake! If you don't have a Trader Joe's, probably most brands of Greek yogurt would do - just check the labels before settling on one, obviously.
posted by UniversityNomad at 7:15 AM on October 6, 2012

Best answer: A fried, poached, or hard-boiled egg is delicious atop a salad. If that's not enough, tuna nicoise salad (tuna, olives, green beans, eggs, potatoes, etc.) is protein-heavy and quick to assemble if you cook the ingredients in advance. Once winter does come and you want something hot, channa masala is easy to prep in advance and heat. Similarly, veggie chili, lentils, and other soupy things can be made in bulk and heated quickly, and will be even more delicious than if you'd made them and eaten them right away.
posted by dizziest at 7:17 AM on October 6, 2012

Lentils are good, with yogurt on top. If they are cold, they make a nice salad with tomatoes, raw onions, olive oil, lemon juice, and then tatziki instead of yogurt on the side.
Or a sandwich with Rye bread, cream cheese and smoked salmon. Filling but not as uncomfortable as if made with bagel
posted by mumimor at 7:17 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you're arriving home that hungry, maybe add a snack into your day an hour or so before your ride home. Something like vegetables and hummus, or an apple and a handful of nuts...this will take the edge off so you aren't ravenous when you get home.
posted by lulu68 at 8:16 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you want to properly fuel your body after a workout like that, ideally you will be giving your body a combination of protein and simple carbohydrates. The standard for quick/easy/cheap post workout recovery is chocolate milk. The sugar digests quickly to help replenish what your muscles burned, and the protein helps to repair them.

So, if you had a glass of chocolate milk when you first came home, that will give you what your body needs immediately, allowing you to take whatever time you want to prepare dinner afterward.

There are recovery drinks which are made by companies for bodybuilders that do the same thing, but the cost is quite high. You could also prepare things such as boiled eggs in advance, but if you don't get the simple carbs at the same time, your body won't absorb the protein as easily, and you won't get the same level of benefit.
posted by markblasco at 8:36 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

You can make a nice dal and just microwave it when you want it quickly and serve with toast - this is my favourite, we often have a pot of it in the fridge. A 4 or 5 egg white omelette with mushrooms and coriander or whatever will only take a few minutes to make.
posted by jamesonandwater at 8:39 AM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

I recently saw a good recipe that sounds right for you: mix together cooked prawns, rocket, pesto, cherry tomatoes (and pasta, if wanted). You can have it hot or cold, cook the tomatoes or not, etc. I've round it very fast - takes only a few minutes - and adaptable.
posted by NoiselessPenguin at 8:55 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Chocolate milk. Get a thing of good old Nestlé Quik. 2% or whole milk. Pair that with peanut butter on toast or a slice of good cheddar cheese and you're good to go.
posted by amanda at 9:07 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Beans and legumes and cruciferous vegetables all have large amounts of protein, I believe. Maybe you need to prepare ahead of time a green monster with spinach, a nut butter, and protein powder (and banana for sweetness), so you can chug it when you come in the door.
posted by joannemerriam at 10:04 AM on October 6, 2012

Every few days I make this Three bean salad: bag of frozen edamame, 1 can each of chickpeas and red beans, sliced black olive, diced tomato, chopped scallion and a spoonful of pesto. Good on its own, or on lettuce, topped with cottage cheese and sprinkled with sunflower seeds for even more protein.
posted by coevals at 10:07 AM on October 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

My post ride; In a blender put almond milk, peanut butter, yogurt, frozen fruit, banana, protein powder, etc. The protein powder really rounds it out, but I don’t know how that or the yogurt fits your diet.

I also put broccoli or spinach, carrots, lemon juice, ginger, cinnamon, apple pie spice, and sometimes fiber. It’s a way to get extra vegetables and makes a more complex taste than just "milkshake". If you add vegetables, especially broccoli or spinach, you need to add something tart and sweet to balance it. Orange juice is perfect, but I just use lemon juice and make sure there’s enough sweet from other things, or add some stevia. It’s amazing how much vegetables you can add and not ruin it if you balance it out.

Sometimes this just becomes dinner.
posted by bongo_x at 11:18 AM on October 6, 2012

By the way, Greek yogurt is just regular yogurt that's been hung over the sink a while in a cheesecloth bag, so if you don't want to submit quietly to Chobani's highway robbery, you can make it yourself.

Or just drink the milk directly. It'll be just as efficient, or more, since you're not sharing the calories with a Lactobacillus colony.
posted by d. z. wang at 1:40 PM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I often keep a roast chicken and some cured meats in the fridge for quick post-commute and post-ride meals, but it sounds like those won't work for you. Shrimp are easy to prepare (steam, grill, or broil) in advance and great eaten cold, though, so if you like shrimp, that could be a good option for you. And I have a friend who keeps lox in her fridge and just eats slices of it after rides.

Tuna and cottage cheese are the go-to lean protein for most of my friends who work out seriously. Here is a page full of cottage cheese recipes from a weightlifting blog. If you grew up hating cottage cheese like I did, you might find that you like the full-fat or large-curd variety rather than the skim or small-curd variety (or vice versa, depending on what you grew up with). You can get good tuna these days, too--look for the stuff packed in foil packages or glass jars, rather than cans.

I highly recommend The Feed Zone Cookbook, too. Despite the silly fad-diet-sounding name, it's actually a great cookbook for cyclists with a whole bunch of recipes that are quick and easy to fix, and also tasty.

You might also want to consider an afternoon snack to give you some fuel for the ride home so you're not quite so ravenous when you get there. If protein is what does it for you fuel-wise, boiled eggs are easy to prepare in advance, and they keep in the fridge for a few days. BabyBel cheese and string cheese also work well as portable, protein-y, vegetarian snacks. And of course there's always the classics: banana, peanut butter sandwich, granola bars.
posted by rhiannonstone at 5:53 PM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I use a decent-tasting chocolate whey protein powder with BCAAs (Optimum Nutrition Double Chocolate) and skim milk shaken up in a bottle for right after--it's like the usual chocolate milk recommendation on steroids, with a lot of protein. Plus a banana or a sweet potato I already cooked (roasted in the skin usually and stuck in the fridge a day or two before) for the carbiness. Cottage cheese, as mentioned, works too. And something small you can stomach ahead of time, like right ahead of time (string cheese, rice cereal, etc.), also helps.

If I'm working REALLY hard I'll throw half a cup of quick oats, some wheat germ, and a pinch of cinnamon into the protein shake, by the way. That's for when I need to carb load 'cause I'm totally destroying myself though. Definitely filling--it makes it so I don't want to eat again for hours (or at all for the rest of the day even, if it's late enough).
posted by ifjuly at 9:54 AM on October 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

And it might not matter, fat or not (it does for me on gym days), but if it does, eggs can be iffy 'cause yeah, they're fatty (on off-gym days though, man, they're a great portable snack or easy way to bulk up the amount of protein in something like a salad or sandwich). That's why cottage cheese and high protein low or no-fat Greek-style yogurt are good options.
posted by ifjuly at 9:57 AM on October 7, 2012

I'm partial to unsweetened coconut or almond milk with protein powder. Spinning it up in the blender is much better than shaking, and if it's not too cold outside I especially like freezing some cubes of the "milk" and tossing that in (gives it more body without diluting). You could toss in peanut butter or berries as well.
posted by mrs. taters at 7:15 AM on October 8, 2012

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