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A Powerful Combo to Increase Protein Nutrition

Posted: July 18, 2014

More and more news stories highlight recent evidence supporting increased protein intake to preserve muscle mass from mid-adulthood onward. Though cereal with dairy and fruit is a common and healthy breakfast, there are ways to increase the protein content of that menu, as well as other interesting and "protein-ful" combinations!
Dairy products give grains a protein boost

Dairy products give grains a protein boost

I’ve been experimenting with a higher protein intake – recent studies show we can use about 30g (30 grams) of protein per meal for building and replacing muscle and other tissues. Consuming more than 30g at one meal, however, will result in the protein being utilized as calories (either burned by the body for energy or stored as fat.)

Yes, I want to stay strong! Adults above the age of 35 often lose muscle as they go through life if they are not regularly using their muscles in their daily routine. Sitting for the majority of the day is an example - exercise scientists have shown we either "use them or lose them", associating muscle loss with lack of use rather than as a natural outcome of aging. Practicing strength training and getting adequate protein can help preserve muscle mass.

Breakfast is the meal I chose to fortify, as my usual cereal, fruit, and milk menu is fairly low in protein. My effort to eat more protein is largely “smoothie” based. Instant non-fat dry milk works well as an inexpensive protein supplement. The grocery clerk was mystified when I asked where it was! A terrific milkshake-like smoothie can be made using 1¼ cups of fat-free milk, 1/3 cup instant non-fat dry milk powder, 2 Tbsp. peanut butter, 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder (unsweetened), plus a banana for sweetness. Wow! 28 grams of protein, and rich in potassium, calcium and other nutrients! Throw ice cubes in while it’s in the blender or use frozen bananas. It tastes like a shake, but provides 2 servings of dairy, a serving of protein food (peanut butter) containing a healthy oil, and a serving of fruit. It’s a balanced food and holds me over until the next meal. Dry oatmeal (1/4 cup) or a tablespoon of flax seed can be added to increase fiber from 4 to 7 grams for a healthy amount of fiber, as well as protein.

Oats and dairy products can work together to provide higher protein meals with fiber. These suggestions work for any age! They are affordable, simple, delicious, and provide protein, fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, vitamin D and other nutrients. Oatmeal made with water has 5g of protein, while oatmeal made with fat-free milk has 14g protein (1/2 cup oats to a cup of liquid). At only 37 cents per serving, it’s quite a bargain for a protein combo, and this serving size will help most people feel full for several hours. You can easily increase the protein of basic oatmeal by replacing milk with 6 oz. Greek yogurt, for 19g protein. If you are a fan of whey protein supplements, a scoop can be added to your oatmeal for an additional 10 - 20g protein, (depending on supplement brand and scoop size), or use 1/3 cup non-fat dry milk for an extra 8g; adding an egg to oatmeal toward the end of cooking adds 7g protein. I love to add 2 Tbsp. crunchy peanut butter (7g protein) to my oatmeal. Overnight oatmeal has become popular – check out all the beautiful photos and recipes on Pinterest.com! The idea is to soak your oats in a milk/yogurt combo (the standard 1/2 cup dry oatmeal per cup of dairy or water) in the refrigerator overnight to soften the oats. Add desired additional ingredients and they are ready to eat as is, topped with jewel-like fruits, or may be warmed. Glass jars or to-go containers can be used for single servings. Oat dishes on the savory side are gaining popularity, such as cheesy oats and roasted vegetables or shrimp with oatmeal grits. Find recipes and more nutrition information at commercial websites for oats and dairy.

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Rayna Cooper
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