Healthy protein snacks keep your energy and metabolism thriving all day long (no mid-afternoon slump!), help you avoid cravings, and ensure that you’re never left hungry when there’s only junk food options around. Forget expensive and fake packaged protein bars, and get primal with these 17 real-food portable protein snacks (they are all naturally gluten-free, too!).
1. Leftover chicken wings or drumettes: Chicken is yummy cold and full of protein to satisfy you for longer. Always make extras when you cook meals, so you have leftovers to pack for easy snacks. Just remember to take a small ice block to keep the chicken cold, especially in warm weather. Here’s an easy and yummy way to cook your wings and drumettes.
2. Hard-Boiled Eggs: Hard-boil at least half a dozen eggs once a week, so you always have this protein and nutrient rich snack to grab on your way out the door. You can even pre-peel them at home for no egg shell mess at work or on the train. Here’s a novel way of making hard-boiled eggs without boiling.
3. Mixed Nuts: One of the easiest snacks to throw in your bag and eat virtually anywhere, and you’ll never get bored with the wide variety of nuts available. Nuts have a pretty good protein content, plus some healthy fats to satiate you. Just be sure to not eat too many nuts that haven’t been activated (soaked and dried). Here’s how to easily activate your nuts at home (no dehydrator required!). I love to toss my finished nuts in oil and sea salt. Yum!
4. Rocky Shake: Thinking about Rocky Balboa drinking raw eggs during boxing training may make you gag, but if you put those raw eggs in a delicious shake, you get the protein and nutrition benefits without any egg taste whatsoever. Shakes become portable snacks when you make them in the morning and pour into a glass jar with screw-top lid to take with you! Never ever use cage eggs, only the finest quality eggs you can get (worth the extra money, if you value your health), and have fun with a variety of primal shake recipes.
5. Meatballs: Again, the best way to continually eat well when time-poor is to love your leftovers. Whether you’ve used beef, pork, lamb or chicken mince (ground meat), you will be guaranteed a huge amount of protein for snacks. So this is an especially good snack for after a workout, when you have to go long periods between meals, and for insatiable kids. Try my original Coconut Meatballs, which are delicious cold the next day, or get a basic meatball recipe.
6. Pumpkin Seeds: Half a cup of these tasty seeds have about 14 grams of protein! One popular variety called Pepitas can be found in many health food stores, or you can make your own at home by rinsing and oven-roasting the seeds from your pumpkin. You can mix these with your nuts if you like, and add oil, sea salt, tamari or spices for varied flavour.
7. Canned seafood: Clearly, tinned food is not the most primal option, but it might be worth the exception now and then for convenient protein-filled and highly nutritious snacks. Just be sure that the fish is packed in spring water or olive oil, never vegetable oil. Though salmon and tuna are the most common, sardines, mussels and oysters are especially nutritious, or try mackerel (kippers) for a less fishy taste.
8. Two-Ingredient Pancakes: These banana and egg pancakes are making the rounds on the internet because how awesome is it to have a pancake with no flour at all! And the eggs will give you protein. They are small size pancakes, so they’re perfect for taking as snacks in your bag.
9. Jerky: Native peoples were snacking on beef jerky and salmon jerky long before it came in a package, and today most commercial jerky contains horrors like MSG and corn syrup. If you can’t find a brand that has nothing but meat and spices, here’s how to make your own jerky without a dehydrator.
10. Mini Fish Cakes: A more primal and delicious version of the canned seafood, this just takes a little bit more prep time, or you can again just use your awesome leftovers. You can make fish cakes a million ways to suit your tastes, including veggies or herbs to add even more nutrition to these protein and fatty-acid filled snacks.
11. Mini Egg Muffins: We are a huge fan of egg-muffins for breakfast and lunches so how about making them in mini-muffin tins to take for snack time? Simply throw your leftover chopped veggies in a bowl with 4-6 eggs and salt and pepper, mix it up and ladle into the mini muffin tins. After 20 minutes in a 180C (350F) oven, you have a bunch of real food protein snacks ready to go.
12. Raw Cheese: Who doesn’t love cheese?! Just make sure it’s always raw, never pasteurised! We have found two types of unpasteurised cheese in our Sydney supermarket and I saw loads of raw cheeses in the health food supermarkets in America. A little cheese goes a long way to satisfy your hunger, cravings and energy needs.
13. Spinach Bars: This awesome snack food has the protein of eggs plus the nutrition of spinach, garlic and herbs. Plus, it’s easy to take with you and not messy to eat. Make a big batch of spinach bars to enjoy throughout the week!
14. Nut Butter Spread: Nuts again, but now you’ve got a protein-rich dip or spread which adds variety and fun options for your daily snacks. Our favourite foods to dip or spread our nut butter on are apples, pears, bananas and raw carrots and celery. We pack the fruit or veg whole with our jar of nut butter and a little covered knife, then cut, dip and/or spread on the yummy nut butter at snack time. Or make any variety of ‘ants on a log’. Peanut butter is so old school, and legumes (yes, peanuts are not nuts!) don’t digest well for everyone, so try out some almond butter, cashew butter, mixed nut butter, or make your own at home in a food processor or Vitamix with your activated nuts!
15. Meat Rollup: On the night you make roast beef for dinner, cut a few thin slices of the roast beef and use them to roll up some thin veggies like capsicum (bell pepper) strips, carrot sticks or asparagus. Mustard, pesto or sauerkraut makes delicious meat rollups too, and if you eat dairy, you can throw in some raw cheese. Put the meat rollups in a small container to pack for snacks.
16. Homemade Sushi: More roll-up fun. Buy a pack of sushi nori from the supermarket or health food shop and have fun rolling up leftover meat and veg, avocado, whatever you like for your snacks. Rice or quinoa is totally optional. Here’s an easy lesson from me on how to make your own sushi.
17. Bliss balls or bars: If you’ve bought any of those date and nut bars or balls from the shop, you know they are amazingly delicious snacks. But did you know how easy they are to make at home? And SO much cheaper! Just mix in your food processor: 2 cups dried fruit to 1 cup nuts/seeds, plus your choice of cocoa, cacao, peppermint oil, coconut flakes, whatever you fancy. Roll into balls and keep in fridge or freezer until you’re ready to pop them into your snack bag. Just as yummy as those fake chocolate protein bars, but only real primal ingredients.
What’s your favourite real-food snack?
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