Protein is essential for building lean muscle, which in turn is crucial for burning fat. Clearly, the key to a healthy metabolism is to eat clean and to eat enough protein. Meats, eggs, and nuts are all well-known sources of protein, but they are far from the only ways to incorporate more lean, healthy proteins into a meal.

If cooking these six protein-packed foods seems intimidating, you may be wondering if anything could be of assistance. For protein-lovers, Foodini’s, a catering and private chef service in Monmouth County, lets you browse their menus and create a selection that’s perfect for quiet family dinners at home or large gatherings .

1. Mung beans

With 24 grams of protein per half-cup serving, mung beans provide more than 40% of an adult’s daily protein needs. Cooked mung beans are also high in vitamin C, unlike other legumes that tend to lose their vitamin content once boiled. They’re rich in fiber, iron, and potassium, making cooked, chilled mung beans great to sprinkle on a salad for a protein boost.

2. Edamame

This soy snack contains 22 grams of protein per one-cup serving. Edamame is also a good source of calcium, iron, folate, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C.

3. Lentils

With 18 grams of protein per cup, lentils are surprisingly high in protein even compared to other legumes. That’s roughly the equivalent of three eggs’ worth of protein! In addition, the high fiber content of these little legumes makes them extremely filling, and they can even help lower cholesterol. If that wasn’t enough, legumes are also very low in fat, with less than one gram of fat per cup, and contain B vitamins that help your body turn food into energy.

4. Amaranth

This grain-like seed contains more protein and fiber than either brown rice or wheat. A 100-gram serving of cooked amaranth contains 14 grams of protein, or about 25% of an adult’s daily recommended protein intake. It also helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure in addition to being packed with vitamins.

5. Cottage cheese

Four ounces of cottage cheese with 1% milk fat contains 14 grams of protein. Try using cottage cheese as the base of a dip for an alternative to higher-fat options like sour cream if you’re looking to cut back on calories.

6. Sprouted whole-grain breads

Sprouted whole-grain breads contain barley seeds, lentils, millet seeds, and other healthful and protein-packed ingredients. If you’re trying to lower your carbohydrate intake but don’t want to eliminate bread entirely, sprouted whole-grain breads are a great choice, with between 8 and 12 grams of protein per two slices.

If you’re still wondering how you can incorporate more of these helpful and clean foods into your diet, you can always consider taking cooking classes. Aspiring home chefs can find cooking classes as well as catering and home meal delivery services from Foodini’s Catering.

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- Chef John Deatcher

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