While meat, eggs and nuts may come to mind when you think of good protein sources, some of your other favorite foods (like your morning bagel) are chock full of the nutrient. Keep clicking to see 10 that can help you reach the daily recommended protein intake of 46 grams in surprising and delicious ways. Photo by Getty Images.
1. Black Bean Pasta
25 grams per 2-ounce serving
Although pasta’s better known for its high carb content, protein’s a key player in the black bean variety. Made from just beans and water, this pasta capitalizes on the high-protein black bean, packing every 2 ounces with more than a serving of salmon’s worth of the nutrient. Bonus: The special spaghetti has just 17 grams of carbs, less than half of what’s in standard pasta. Look for a package at your local Asian specialty store, the Asian section of your supermarket.
13 grams per 1 large one
Like pasta, the popular deli pick is better known as a carb collector. Yet bagel shops tend to bake with high-gluten flour, which contains 23 grams of protein per cup-more than other flour varieties. With more protein than two eggs (which have 6 grams a piece), this morning meal can keep you fuller longer. Multigrain bagels (typically made with oats, flaxseed and sunflower seeds) and the Asiago kind (which gets a protein boost from the cheese) offers the most bang for your bite. Enjoy cream cheese as your spread for an extra gram of protein per tablespoon.
3. Green Peas
4 grams per ½ cup
You may have pushed peas around your plate as a kid, but what you (and even your mom) may not have known is that the tiny veggies are practically pure protein. Peas are a member of the legume family (a subgroup of vegetables that are the seeds of a plant) related to two of the most well-known plant-based proteins: beans and lentils. While they may often be overlooked, peas live up to the family legacy, with more protein per serving than an egg white (which has 3.5 grams).
4. Hot Chocolate
14 grams in a Starbucks Grande (16 ounces)
A mug of hot chocolate from the coffee chain isn’t just the ultimate comfort drink on a cold day; it’s also a protein power player, with twice the amount in a serving of black beans. The sweet sip can thank the mix of cocoa powder (which is naturally high in protein with a gram per tablespoon) and milk for its notable numbers. The DIY version can be just as potent. Homemade hot chocolate comes with the same protein if you follow this recipe.
5. Non-Potato Chips
7 grams per snack size bag
Reevaluating your chip of choice can spread the protein wealth around your lunch. The standard potato chip offers up only 2 grams per serving, but newer, better-for-you brands now use corn, an ingredient that offers 4 grams of protein per cup. Taking advantage of the protein-packed egg white instead, each snack size bag of IPS chips offers 7 grams, or two egg whites’ worth. Or take the tortilla chip route with R.W. Garcia Flax Chips; they have 5 grams of protein per seven chips, thanks to corn, soybeans and flaxseeds.
7 g per 11-inch stalk
Move over, meat. The veggie side of the plate is protein-filled, too. These green guys not only boast low calories and high levels of vitamins and antioxidants but also almost as much protein as a cup of milk. Puree some as a base for soups to add even more protein to your meal, since each bunch of broccoli contains a whopping 17 grams.
7. Sundried Tomatoes
4 grams per ounce
Nuts aren’t the only protein-filled toppings at the salad bar. Hard to believe, but each piece of sundried tomato has half a gram. That’s because the drying process sucks out the majority of the water content, concentrating the rest of the nutrients in the tomato. Sprinkled on your greens, the ingredient delivers the protein equivalent of a 1-ounce serving of walnuts.
8. Arctic Zero Ice Cream
3 grams per ½ cup
While a ½ cup from the local ice cream shop has 2.5 grams of protein, it comes with a hefty calorie price tag (150 to be exact, and who eats just a ½ cup?). What takes the protein stats of the whey concentrate-based frozen treat Arctic Zero from standard to surprising is the protein-to-calorie ratio. Each serving has just 36 calories-so an entire pint is as caloric as just one scoop of regular ice cream (goodbye, eater’s remorse!), with 12 grams of protein to boot. That pint’s the equivalent of two eggs, two handfuls of nuts or 1½ cup of milk.
9. Parmesan Cheese
10 grams per ounce
It’s not a complete shocker that the dairy delight includes a dose of protein, but just how much may be. One single slice has more protein than two egg whites. The cheese is one of the top foods in protein-to-calorie density (the amount of protein per gram), beating out beef, chicken and pork. Plus, if you love adding grated cheese to dishes, sprinkle away! The shredded version is just as protein-dense, with each tablespoon adding 2 grams of protein to your meal.
10. Homemade French Fries
7 grams per serving
One of America’s favorite fast food side dishes makes the list, but it’s not time to hit the drive-thru. An order of fries at the counter has 4 grams of protein, but the high calorie and fat content quickly offsets the benefit. A large baked potato, however, has 7 grams of protein-more than a whole egg or a serving of nuts. So make your own fries at home! Slice a potato into wedges, toss with egg whites (an extra protein boost) and bake at 425°F for 40 minutes.