(Family Features) It’s a common scenario: no time for breakfast, so you’re snacking on something sweet in the break room at 9 a.m. Two hours later you hit the vending machine for something salty.
The good news is there is an easy, healthy alternative to taking control of your appetite: protein. In fact, a growing body of research shows that spreading protein intake over the course of a day may be the solution to mindless snacking.
Protein helps you avoid feeling hungry, giving you more control over the foods you choose. Eating the right amount of protein at each meal also helps achieve weight loss goals by keeping you fuller longer, building muscles after a workout and protecting the lean muscle you already have.
The 30 Day Protein Challenge, created by the Beef Checkoff, is a fun, step-by-step plan to help you get a balanced amount of protein at each meal. The challenge helps you keep track of your food, hunger and moods to see how simple diet changes can make a difference in your overall health and wellness for 30 days and beyond.
Recipes that take less than 30 minutes, such as Szechuan Beef Stir-Fry and Tenderloin, Cranberry and Pear Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing, can make balancing protein simple.
Visit BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com to find everything you need to get started with the Protein Challenge, including tools and daily tips. Share your progress and engage with other participants online using #ProteinChallenge.
Szechuan Beef Stir-Fry
Total time: 15 minutes
- 1 package (10 ounces) fresh vegetable stir-fry blend
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 beef ranch steaks (about 8 ounces each), cut 3/4-inch thick
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup prepared sesame-ginger stir-fry sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 cups hot cooked rice or brown rice, prepared without butter or salt
- 1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts
- In large, nonstick skillet, combine vegetables and water; cover and cook over medium-high heat 4 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Remove and drain vegetables. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, cut beef steaks into 1/4-inch thick strips.
- Heat same skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add half of beef and half of garlic; stir-fry 1-2 minutes, or until outside surface of beef is no longer pink. Remove from skillet; keep warm.
- Repeat with remaining beef and garlic.
- Return all beef and vegetables to skillet. Add stir-fry sauce and red pepper; cook and stir 1-2 minutes, or until heated through. Spoon over rice. Sprinkle with peanuts.
Nutrition information per serving: 393 calories; 12 g fat (3 g saturated fat; 5 g monounsaturated fat); 65 mg cholesterol; 969 mg sodium; 41 g carbohydrate; 3.9 g fiber; 28 g protein; 7.3 mg niacin; 0.7 mg vitamin B6; 4.2 mcg vitamin B12; 3.0 mg iron; 45.8 mcg selenium; 6.9 mg zinc; 99.3 mg choline.
Tenderloin, Cranberry and Pear Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing
Total time: 25 minutes
- 4 beef tenderloin steaks (4 ounces each), cut 3/4-inch thick
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 1 package (5 ounces) mixed baby salad greens
- 1 medium red or green pear, cored, cut into 16 wedges
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- salt, to taste
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
- 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese (optional)
Honey Mustard Dressing
- 1/2 cup prepared honey mustard
- 2-3 tablespoons water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Season beef steaks with pepper. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Place steaks in skillet; cook 7-10 minutes for medium rare (145° F) to medium (160° F) doneness, turning occasionally.
- Meanwhile, in small bowl, whisk Honey Mustard Dressing ingredients until well blended. Set aside.
- Divide greens evenly among four plates. Top evenly with pear wedges and dried cranberries.
- Carve steaks into thin slices; season with salt, as desired. Divide steak slices evenly over salads. Top each salad evenly with dressing, pecans and goat cheese, if desired.
Nutrition information per serving: 332 calories; 12 g fat (3 g saturated fat; 6 g monounsaturated fat); 79 mg cholesterol; 256 mg sodium; 22 g carbohydrate; 3.4 g fiber; 27 g protein; 5.5 mg niacin; 0.7 mg vitamin B6; 3.9 mcg vitamin B12; 3.7 mg iron; 24.2 mcg selenium; 4.4 mg zinc; 75.4 mg choline.
Boost every moment with versatile peanut butter
(Family Features) Whether you’re a fitness junkie, busy parent, sleep-deprived student or diehard sweet tooth, peanut butter is an ingredient that sticks for all of life’s moments. With a healthy boost of protein and energy, peanut butter is perfect as an on-the-go snack, fuel for a workout, a reliable family meal or a decadent dessert.
There’s no shortage of delicious ways to pack peanut butter into diverse dishes throughout the day:
- Add peanut butter to your favorite fruit smoothie for a nutty new flavor.
- Encourage children to experiment with the essential spread and go beyond PB and J by replacing fruit for the jelly or stirring peanut butter or peanut butter powder into their yogurt.
- A simple peanut butter and honey sandwich makes a great on-the-go snack you can throw in your gym bag or tuck away in a drawer at work.
- Add peanut butter to a sauce or salad dressing for an extra zip of flavor and protein.
Find more creative ways to enjoy peanut butter with these winning recipes from Southern Peanut Growers’ annual PB My Way recipe contest, and explore additional dishes that celebrate this versatile ingredient at peanutbutterlovers.com.
Veggie Sammies with Peanut Butter Satay Sauce
Recipe courtesy of Ben M., San Francisco, California
- 4 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons water
- 4 teaspoons hoisin sauce
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sriracha
- 2 French baguette rolls (6 inches each)
- 1/2 cup sliced cucumber
- 1/2 cup white onion
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper
- 1/2 cup purple cabbage
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
- In small bowl, combine peanut butter, lime juice, water, hoisin sauce, soy sauce and sriracha. Mix well.
- Spread sauce on both sides of bread then layer with cucumber, onion and bell pepper. Top with cabbage and cilantro leaves.
Graceland Mini Cupcakes
Recipe courtesy of Linda D., Coconut Creek, Florida
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 ripe bananas
- 1/2 cup light sour cream
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 large egg white, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Peanut Butter Filling:
- 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 4 slices bacon
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 8 ounces low-fat cream cheese
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- Heat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake tins with paper liners and lightly spray with cooking spray.
- To make batter: In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine and set aside.
- In small bowl, mash bananas and add sour cream. Mix well and set aside.
- Using electric hand mixer, beat butter, oil and sugar until incorporated, about 3-5 minutes. Add eggs, egg white and vanilla. Mix until combined. Slowly add half the dry ingredients and mix until almost incorporated. Add sour cream and banana mixture and gently fold into batter. Add rest of dry ingredients until combined.
- Spoon batter into lined cupcake pans. Bake 18-20 minutes and let cool.
- After cooling about 30-45 minutes, use paring knife to cut small circle in middle of top of cupcakes and remove plug, creating a well about halfway down cupcake. Add peanut butter to piping bag and fill each hole. Set aside.
- In medium bowl, dredge both sides of bacon slices in brown sugar. Place on foil-lined baking sheet; bake 10 minutes. Flip and bake another 6-8 minutes. Remove bacon from oven and place on plate to cool. Once cool, chop bacon and set aside.
- To make frosting: In large bowl, combine cream cheese, butter, peanut butter and vanilla extract. Mix until combined. Add confectioners’ sugar and mix until well-combined.
- Add frosting to piping bag. Pipe a dollop of frosting onto each cupcake and sprinkle with candied bacon pieces.
Peanut Apple Chicken Curry
Recipe courtesy of Jess A., Berkeley, California
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1/4 cup scallions, chopped
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter
- 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 3/4 cups apple juice
- 1 3/4 cups coconut milk
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch strips
- 1 medium apple, peeled, cored and chopped
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- cooked rice (optional)
- To make sauce: In medium to large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, curry powder and scallions. Saute 1 minute.
- Add peanut butter, vinegar, apple juice, coconut milk, brown sugar and cayenne. Bring to simmer, reduce heat and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, about 10-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in large skillet, heat oil. Add onion and stir fry about 2-3 minutes until onions start to become opaque.
- Add chicken and apples, and stir until chicken is cooked completely. Add peanut sauce and cook until heated evenly, about 2-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve warm over rice, if desired.
Source: Peanut Growers
(Family Features) Next time you reach for a snack, go for a great-tasting option that delivers on both flavor and nutrition. Sensible snacks can be surprisingly delicious when you choose ingredients wisely.
One pop-ular choice: popcorn. Ideal for between-meal snacking since it satisfies but doesn’t spoil the appetite, popcorn is also the perfect addition to treats such as snack bars and trail mix. The key to smart snacking is finding good-for-you ingredients that make your body healthy and your taste buds happy.
With no artificial additives or preservatives, popcorn is naturally low in fat and calories. The whole grain provides energy-producing complex carbohydrates and contains fiber, providing roughage the body needs in the daily diet.
Find more healthy snack solutions at popcorn.org.
There’s nothing like the taste of freshly popped popcorn and nothing like the disappointment of burnt popcorn. Follow these simple steps and you’ll have perfect popcorn every time.
- Whether on the stove or in the microwave, popcorn will begin popping in a few minutes.
- When the popping begins to slow, listen until you can count two seconds between pops. Remove the pan from heat or bag from microwave.
- Remember to lift the lid or open the bag away from your face to prevent steam burns.
Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Corn
Yield: 10 cups
- 8 cups popped popcorn
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup crunchy granola
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup walnut halves
- In bowl, toss popcorn with melted butter.
- Combine sugar with cinnamon; sprinkle over popcorn. Toss with granola, raisins and walnuts until combined.
Crispy Crunchy Apple Popcorn
Yield: 7 cups
- 6 cups popped popcorn
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 cups dried apple chips
- Heat oven to 300° F.
- Line 9-by-13-inch baking pan with foil; butter foil. Spread popcorn in pan and drizzle with melted butter; toss popcorn. Sprinkle popcorn with sugar and cinnamon, and toss again.
- Bake 7 minutes.
- Sprinkle apple chips over popcorn and heat an additional 3 minutes.
- Serve warm, or cool to room temperature. Store in airtight container.
Crunchy Popcorn Trail Mix
Yield: 9 cups
- 5 cups popped popcorn
- 3 cups whole-grain oat cereal
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1/3 cup peanuts (or other nuts)
- 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
- 6 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- In large, microwavable bowl, stir together popcorn, cereal, raisins, nuts and seeds; set aside.
- In small saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar and corn syrup. Heat until boiling; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Pour over popcorn mixture, stirring to coat evenly. Microwave 3-4 minutes, stirring and scraping bowl after each minute.
- Spread onto greased cookie sheet; cool.
- Break into pieces and store in airtight container.
Popcorn Granola Snack Bars
Yield: 16 bars
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2/3 cup peanut butter
- 1 cup granola cereal
- 1 cup roasted and salted peanuts
- 3 cups popped popcorn
- Line 8- or 9-inch square baking pan with foil. Spray foil lightly with cooking spray; set aside.
- In large saucepan, heat honey until boiling. Stir in peanut butter until well blended.
- Remove pan from heat and stir in granola, peanuts and popcorn until coated. Press mixture evenly into prepared pan.
- Refrigerate until cool; cut into bars to serve.
Yummy Yogurt Popcorn
Yield: 2 1/2 quarts
- 2 1/2 quarts popped popcorn
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup light corn syrup
- In large bowl, keep popped popcorn warm.
- In 2 1/2-quart saucepan, combine yogurt, brown sugar and corn syrup. Cook and stir over medium heat to hard ball stage (250° F on candy thermometer).
- Pour over popped popcorn, stirring to coat.
Source: The Popcorn Board
(Family Features) Whether you’re a competitive sprinter chasing a new record or an everyday gym hound looking to get the most from your workout, seafood is among the best foods to support an athletic lifestyle. It not only delivers great-tasting nutrition, but also provides one-of-a-kind health benefits.
The combination of lean protein, anti-inflammatory omega-3s and muscle-building nutrients found in Alaska seafood are why it’s a staple for athletes like Ryan and Sara Hall.
“We like to incorporate Alaska seafood in our daily diet because it’s a really high-quality protein that helps to repair our muscles on a daily basis,” said Ryan Hall, a two-time Olympian and holder of the U.S. half-marathon record.
After a run, Sara Hall – a 3,000-meter steeplechase and marathon runner, U.S. national champion and World Team member – relies on seafood as a go-to for low-fat meals with protein and simple-to-digest carbs.
Sample these dishes straight from the Hall kitchen, and find more recipes and nutritional values for your favorite seafood at wildalaskaseafood.com.
Cedar Plank Grilled Salmon with Sweet Potatoes
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Cedar planks with enough surface area for salmon
- 4 Alaska salmon fillets (4-6 ounces each), fresh, thawed or frozen
- olive oil spray
- 1 tablespoon fresh (or 1 teaspoon dried) dill, thyme or rosemary
- salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste
- 4 large sweet potatoes, sliced lengthwise into wedges
- 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
- Soak cedar planks for 1-2 hours (or overnight) submerged in water. Remove and pat dry.
- Heat grill to medium heat (400° F). If frozen, rinse ice from salmon under cold water; pat dry with paper towel. Spray cedar planks and salmon with olive oil spray. Place salmon on planks; sprinkle with herb, salt and pepper. Place sweet potatoes in bowl; spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle with cumin and salt and pepper, to taste. Toss to coat.
- Place cedar planks and potato wedges on grill. Cover and cook about 3-4 minutes; turn wedges over and continue cooking until potatoes are soft and cooked. Keep warm. Cook salmon 12-15 minutes, until fish is opaque throughout.
Nutritional information per serving: 350 calories; 11 g total fat; 2 g saturated fat; 27% calories from fat; 91 mg cholesterol; 33 g protein; 33 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 277 mg sodium; 36 mg calcium; 1,700 mg omega-3 fatty acids.
Pan-Seared Cod over Minted Pea Puree
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 pounds frozen or fresh peas, blanched
- 1 package (0.6-0.7 ounces) fresh mint, leaves only
- salt, to taste
- 4 Alaska cod fillets (4-6 ounces each), fresh, frozen or thawed
- olive oil
- 1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
- Add water, peas and mint to blender or food processor; season with salt. Puree until almost smooth. Cover and keep warm.
- If frozen, rinse ice glaze from cod under cold water; pat dry with paper towel. Heat heavy, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Brush both sides of fillets with olive oil.
- In heated skillet, cook cod, uncovered, about 3-4 minutes, until browned. Shake pan occasionally to keep fish from sticking. Turn cod over and sprinkle with lemon pepper seasoning. Cover pan tightly and reduce heat to medium. Cook an additional 6-9 minutes for frozen cod or 3-4 minutes for fresh/thawed fish. Cook until fish is opaque throughout.
- To serve, spoon pea puree onto 4 plates. Top each with cod fillet and serve immediately.
Nutrition information per serving: 319 calories; 5 g total fat; 1 g saturated fat; 13% calories from fat; 65 mg cholesterol; 37 g protein; 34 g carbohydrate; 12 g fiber; 393 mg sodium; 101 mg calcium; 28 IU vitamin D; 200 mg omega-3 fatty acids.
Miso Halibut with Soba Noodle Stir-Fry
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
- 1 package (12 ounces) prepared soba noodles (or noodle of choice)
- 4 Alaska halibut fillets (4-6 ounces each), fresh, thawed or frozen
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
- 2 cups roughly chopped bok choy
- 1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 1/2 cup chopped green onion
- 1/4 cup miso
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
- Prepare noodles according to package directions; set aside.
- If frozen, rinse ice glaze from halibut under cold water; pat dry with paper towel. Heat large, nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Brush both sides of halibut with half of the sesame oil.
- In heated skillet, cook fish, uncovered, about 3-4 minutes, until browned.
- Shake pan occasionally to keep fish from sticking. Turn halibut over; reduce heat to medium and cover. Cook 5-7 minutes for frozen halibut or 2-3 minutes for fresh/thawed fish, cooking until fish is opaque throughout. Transfer fillets to plate; cover to keep warm.
- Wipe out skillet/wok with paper towel. Add remaining sesame oil. Heat to medium-high then add and stir-fry bok choy, snap peas, mushrooms and green onions. Stir in noodles; turn off heat. Cover and keep warm.
- In saucepan, blend miso, water and teriyaki sauce. Bring mixture to boil then reduce heat to a simmer and cook 1 minute. Stir sauce into warm noodle-vegetable mixture. To serve, divide and portion mixture into 4 bowls or plates. Top each with halibut fillet.
Nutrition information per serving: 571 calories; 15 g total fat; 2 g saturated fat; 22% calories from fat; 56 mg cholesterol; 38 g protein; 71 g carbohydrate; 7 g fiber; 1,643 mg sodium; 77 mg calcium; 219 IU vitamin D; 350 mg omega-3 fatty acids.
- 2 firm ripe bananas
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1/2 cup red grapes (about 16)
- 1/2 cup green grapes (about 16)
- 8 10-inch wooden skewers
- 1 1/2 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 70 percent cocoa solids), finely chopped
- Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Cut the banana into 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Place in small bowl and toss gently with the orange juice.
- Skewer fruit, alternating two grapes for each piece of banana, and place fruit skewers onto lined tray.
- Place chocolate in small microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute, then stir well, and microwave another 10 seconds if necessary to melt chocolate.
- Using a spoon, drizzle melted chocolate onto fruit skewers.
- Place the tray in the freezer for at least 2 hours. Once frozen, skewers may be transferred to a sealable plastic bag where they will keep in the freezer for up to a week. Allow to soften at room temperature for 5 minutes before eating.
These delightful frozen treats are healthy, too.
Makes 4 servings