How to Add Protein to a Pasta Meal

Assembling a mason jar salad
Pasta salad with chick peas and fresh basil in a jar to go. (Image: VeselovaElena/iStock/Getty Images)

Your daily balanced nutrition should include proteins as well as healthy fats and carbohydrates. Your body needs essential amino acids from the proteins you eat in order to build and repair every cell in the body. The Harvard School of Public Health notes that most adults need a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight every day. The type of protein you eat is just as important as how much you get. Add healthy sources of proteins to your pasta dishes, and cut out unhealthy fats and refined carbohydrates.

Step 1

Mix a handful of cooked quinoa into your pasta. Quinoa is a good source of protein because it contains all nine amino acids that are essential in your diet. Additionally, this grain contains 13.2 milligrams of iron in a 100-gram serving.

Step 2

Make your pasta sauce with 2 to 3 ounces of lean meat such as fish, turkey or chicken with the skin removed. These animal sources are rich in complete protein and lower in fat than red meat but should still be eaten in moderation. You can also add egg whites or a whole egg instead of meat, for a serving of protein.

Step 3

Toss a half-cup of cooked beans into you pasta. The National Institutes of Health recommends legumes such as kidney beans, lima beans and chickpeas as good plant sources of protein. If you are using canned beans, purchase a low-sodium variety and rinse them thoroughly to remove excess sodium.

Step 4

Add soy to your pasta sauce for a high-protein vegetarian dish. According to the American Heart Association, soy products such as tofu and soy beans are good sources of protein. Eating 50 grams of soy a day can help lower unhealthy low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol by 3 percent.

Things You'll Need

  • Cooked quinoa

  • Lean meats such as chicken, turkey or fish

  • Legumes: kidney beans, lima beans or chickpeas

  • Tofu or soybeans

Tip

Use whole-grain pasta varieties for added protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Cheese is a common addition to pasta dishes. Although dairy foods are a good source of protein, they are also high in unhealthy fats. Limit dairy and use low-fat varieties only.

Warning

If you have a chronic condition such as heart disease or kidney failure, your doctor may prescribe specific daily doses of proteins. Consult your doctor before adding protein to your diet.

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