Some foods are just made for each other, like chips and dip, peanut butter and jelly or steak and baked potatoes. But finding your food’s culinary soul mate isn’t always so easy. In fact, it can be downright difficult to find a perfect match for every meal. Rather than trying to re-invent the wheel, rely on old favorites to create delicious combinations of muscle-building protein and energizing carbs. The combination is a nutrient powerhouse that quickly satisfies your appetite and keeps you feeling full for longer.
Tuck your eggs into whole-wheat bread, rather than eating them on their own. Whether you like them scrambled and fluffy, made into an omelet or dripping with yolk in an over-easy fashion, eggs are an excellent source of protein that pairs well with soft or toasted whole-grain bread. Fill your sandwich with other carb-rich ingredients for extra crunch and flavor. Ideas include bell pepper strips, shredded carrots or sliced cucumber.
Stir peanut butter, soy milk or protein powder into your morning bowl of oatmeal. The protein, carbohydrates and fiber combine to keep your belly feeling full for longer, so you won’t be reaching for a sugary snack before lunchtime.
Wrap your salad inside a whole-grain tortilla for a simple twist on the easy favorite. Fill the high-carb wrap with spinach, cucumbers, olives, chickpeas, grape tomatoes and mushrooms. Rather than adding salad dressing into the mix -- which can get a bit messy -- simply dip the carb-and-protein-packed wrap into the dressing before each healthy bite.
Serve grilled chicken or sautéed shrimp over a bed of whole-wheat pasta, brown rice or quinoa. Make the dish more colorful by adding veggies sautéed in olive oil and fresh herbs. Try tomatoes, onions and mushrooms for an evening escape to Italy, or broccoli, carrots and sugar snap peas for a bit of Asian inspiration.
Cover tilapia, pork or chicken in crushed whole-wheat bread crumbs before cooking. Rather than dousing the meat in calorie-filled sauces to make the crumbs stick, use a healthier alternative -- like egg whites, skim milk or plain yogurt, which also add an extra boost of protein. But don’t even think about dropping the breaded pieces into a pot of bubbling oil -- bake them in the oven to keep them light and healthy.
Serve a side of beans or lentils if you’re stuck in a mealtime rut. They’re easy to prepare and packed with both protein and carbohydrates. It’s best to use dry beans -- you’ll control exactly which ingredients get added to the pot. But if you don’t have the time or energy, simply drain and rinse canned beans to reduce the sodium they often contain.
Krista Sheehan is a registered nurse and professional writer. She works in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and her previous nursing experience includes geriatrics, pulmonary disorders and home health care. Her professional writing works focus mainly on the subjects of physical health, fitness, nutrition and positive lifestyle changes.