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9 Surprising Foods that Pack Protein

Need a little extra protein in your diet? These high protein foods pack in essential nutrients but aren't meat.

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Assortment of beans and lentils in wooden spoon on wooden background. mung bean, groundnut, soybean, red kidney bean , black bean ,red bean and brown pinto beansKerdkanno/Shutterstock

Meat is high in protein, but there are actually so many more ways to get protein into your diet. These protein-rich alternatives can be cooked and consumed in a multitude of ways and are perfect whether you eat only vegan recipes are just looking to be more aware of what nutrients you’re eating!

Not vegetarian, but still want to eat healthy? Try these protein-packed salads.

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Taste of Home


Lentils can be added into just about any dish, from hearty stews to burritos, and pack 9g of protein per ½-cup serving. These legumes come in red, black, brown and green varieties, but are all nutrient-dense with a list of impressive benefits including being high in fiber, and low in calories. Try these easy lentil recipes to get started.

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Cooked Chickpeas on a bowl. Chickpeas is nutritious food. Ivanna Grigorova/Shutterstock


You might already love chickpeas in hummus, but there’s so much more that these little beans can do! Try roasting them with your choice of spices for a light and crunchy snack or make them the center of dinner in a coconut ginger stir-fry with rice. Here are dozens of more recipes to make with chickpeas.

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Creamy peanut butter on wood tableinewsfoto/Shutterstock

Peanuts and Peanut Butter

Popular in your classic PB&J, Thai dishes and of course, peanut butter dessert recipes, peanuts and peanut butter are a great source of protein. Just make sure your peanut butter in the jar is 100 percent nuts without any additives so you’re getting all the nutritional benefits!

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Black Beans in wooden spoon with ceramic bowlLooker_Studio/Shutterstock

Black Beans

Black beans are super versatile and super delicious. Aside from being high in protein, they are also jam-packed with fiber and potassium. Health-ify your brownies by adding a can of black beans or try classic black bean enchiladas or black bean burgers for dinner.

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Wild riceShutterstock / Dionisvera

Wild Rice

Swap out your regular jasmine or brown rice for something on the wild side. Wild rice is higher in protein than other rice grains at 6.5 grams per 1-cup cooked serving. Its slightly chewy texture and nutty flavor is delicious as a side dish with mushrooms or in a hearty bowl of soup.

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Healthy Chia seeds in a wooden spoon on the table close-up. horizontalAS Food studio/Shutterstock

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds may be little, but they are definitely mighty! Add them onto your morning bowl of oatmeal for some extra protein and omega-3 fatty acids, or layer them up in a parfait with berries for a sweet treat at home. There are so many ways to power up with chia seeds!

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Steel cut oatmeal porridge with banana and blueberry for breakfastShutterstock / Elena Veselova


Relatively speaking, oats are a decent source of protein for a grain. One cup cooked has about 6 grams protein. Stir in a little peanut butter, sprinkle with some chia seeds and you’re on your way to a meatless breakfast with enough protein to keep you feeling full all morning long.

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Almonds in brown bowl on wooden backgroundYulia Furman/Shutterstock


Aside from protein, almonds are high in vitamin E, which is great for skin and hair health, as well as magnesium! Grab them by the handful for a snack on-the-go, add them to fresh salad recipes instead of croutons or sprinkle toasted almonds over your after-dinner ice cream.

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Bowl with pumpkin seeds and a wooden spoon on a wooden table.Shutterstock / SMarina

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are a tasty and easy snack you can enjoy all year round. When it’s fall, roast your own pumpkin seeds at home for a special treat. They’re also great sprinkled on soups, stews and casseroles.

Jacqueline Weiss
Jacqueline is a blogger and writer, passionate about sharing the latest in helpful tips and trends in food and cooking. In her spare time, you’ll find her trying new restaurants and experimenting in the kitchen.