Everyone loves pasta, making it a staple food for dinners because of ease of preparation and versatility in recipes. We all care about our nutrition. However, with busy schedules and picky eaters, we often let it slip by the wayside. For pasta lovers, carbohydrates are a given, but the dishes sometimes skimp on the protein. This article provides several foods and ideas for incorporating more protein into your pasta dishes. Use these tips to keep you full and your nutrition adequate.
Explore the Meats
The most common way to add protein to a pasta dish is to add meat. For example, proteins such as steak, ground beef, chicken, and pork in numerous ways. Best of all they are easily found at any grocery store. You can cook ground beef and chicken on a stove in under 10 minutes. Alternatively, try cooking pork, chicken, and steak in a crockpot, then cut them up into small pieces and easily mix into dishes. One cup chopped chicken breast has 43 grams of protein and three ounces of ground beef (approximately two meatballs) has approximately 21 grams of protein. Old favorites such as chicken Alfredo and spaghetti and meatballs are perfect opportunities for a hearty meal packed with protein.
See the Seafood
Leaner sources of protein to utilize in pasta dishes are freshwater fish and seafood. There are a variety of protein sources from the sea. Shrimp, crab, scallops, and salmon are all excellent sources of lean protein, meaning the fat content is smaller while the protein concentration remains substantial. For example, six ounces of cooked jumbo shrimp provide 25 grams of protein, yet less than five grams of fat. If you’re looking for a freshwater fish, then adding broiled fish such as walleye, trout, or cod adds a crisp and firm protein for texture. Fish and seafood are also excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are protective against heart disease. Try replacing the chicken in your Alfredo dish with salmon or whipping up a shrimp scampi recipe to pack in more protein.
No Meat, No Problem: Utilizing Tofu
If you embrace a vegetarian way of life, then tofu is probably an old friend. Tofu, made from soy, is the best plant-based source of protein available. Tofu can be chopped into small pieces and added raw into pasta dishes, but frying or sautéing can provide a firmer, crisper texture. Six ounces of firm tofu has an average of about 16 grams of protein.