13 Essentials for a High-Protein Kitchen

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1. Anchovies

1. Anchovies
Helpful hints
You'd be surprised how many experienced chefs sneak anchovies into a variety of foods — with no one the wiser. They add a distinct savory flavor known as umami, and when your audience doesn't know what's providing the flavor, they'll rave about the depth and richness of your dishes.

Simple uses
Chop and add to salad dressings, pasta sauces, marinades, stews, and soups.

2. Frozen Shrimp

2. Frozen Shrimp
Shrimp contains a little-known nutrient called betaine, also found in spinach, beets, and wheat bran. Greek research discovered that people who consume betaine can lower levels of inflammation—a known trigger for heart attacks by up to 26 percent.

Simple Uses
Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or thaw under cool running water.

3. Canned tuna

3. Canned tuna
Helpful hints
Choose tuna packed in water, not oil. You'll save some calories, but you'll also protect the healthy fat content of the tuna; the oil tuna is packed in can leach out some of the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids in the fish.

Simple uses
Pile on whole-grain crackers with a drizzle of lemon juice to add protein to snacks.

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4. Frozen chicken tenders

4. Frozen chicken tenders
Helpful hints
Keep a bag of frozen chicken tenders in the freezer to ensure you're always ready to put together a quick healthy protein meal.

Simple uses
Skip the ketchup, which is loaded with sweetener, and use mustard, marinara, or salsa as a dip.

5. Canned salmon

5. Canned salmon
Helpful hints
Canned salmon is a wonderful option because all salmon used for canning is wild, not farmed, therefore it's less likely to contain contaminants. And it tends to be less expensive than fresh or frozen.

Simple uses
Drain a can and stuff a tomato with the salmon mixed with lemon juice and minced red onion. Or mix salmon in a small bowl with 2 egg whites and 1/4 cup (50 mL) bread crumbs. Form into patties, sear in a nonstick skillet until lightly golden, and serve on greens or a whole-grain roll.

6. Eggs

6. Eggs
Helpful hints
Store them skinny end down, in the carton, on the lowest rack of the fridge, not in the door, where they'll lose nutrients to the cool dry air.

Simple uses
Have a hard-boiled egg for a mid-morning snack. Beat an egg and drizzle into a serving of chicken soup on the stove for a quick eggdrop soup.

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7. Frozen meat

7. Frozen meat
Helpful hints
Most meats freeze nicely, and you can keep roasts, steaks, and chops for at least 6 months without an appreciable loss of nutrients or flavor. Write the date on the package when you place meat in the freezer. To thaw, place on the top shelf in the fridge (wrap well to avoid dripping) overnight.

Simple uses
Save a few slices from your steak to add to a lunch salad tomorrow.

8. Hummus

8. Hummus
Helpful hints
Plain hummus is delicious, but you can also find it flavored with a variety of ingredients, such as garlic, peppers, and sun-dried tomatoes.

Simple uses
Make fresh vegetable and hummus sandwiches. Offer as a dip with baked nacho chips, whole-grain crackers, or triangles of fresh bread.

9. Frozen edamame

9. Frozen edamame
Helpful hints
Buy these green soybeans in the freezer section, either in or out of the pod.

Simple uses
Add shelled edamame to soups and salads. Steam edamame in their pods and enjoy with a little salt as a snack.

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10. Sardines

10. Sardines
Helpful hints
Canned sardines are great sources of protein and "good" fat for people who like them. Buy them stored in water or their own juices.

Simple uses
Top crusty bread with drained skinless, boneless sardines mashed with minced shallot and a drop of balsamic vinegar. Broil for 2 minutes. Drizzle with lemon.

11. Yogurt

11. Yogurt
Helpful hints
Buy plain low-fat yogurt and add your own flavorings. Choose Greek-style yogurt for its higher protein content.

Simple uses
Use yogurt in baking in place of some of the oil, or mix with mayonnaise to lower fat and calories. Also use in place of sour cream as a topping on baked potatoes or Mexican-style dishes.

12. Seeds

12. Seeds
Helpful hints
Keep unsalted pumpkin or sunflower seeds on hand as snacks.

Simple uses
Add to salads and baked goods.

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13. Nuts

13. Nuts
Helpful hints
Favor almonds and walnuts above all.

Simple uses
Add to salads. Throw into stir fries. Even add to vegetable dishes like green beans or spinach.

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