One of the biggest concerns that I hear from my readers is how to get adequate protein on a dairy-free diet for themselves and for their families. Fortunately, protein is present in almost all of the foods we eat, from fruit (yes, fruit!) to beans, and of course meat.
How much protein you need is highly individualized and can be somewhat controversial, but according to the CDC most people should aim to get 10 to 35% of their calories from protein. For teens and adults, this roughly equates to a minimum of 50 grams of protein per day.
Though milk is touted as a top protein source, there are many excellent protein-packed foods to enjoy in your daily diet.
Here is just a sampling of some dairy-free foods that are good sources of protein:
Lean Turkey (4oz) – 20 grams
Chicken Breast (4oz) – 20 grams
Tempeh (4oz) – 20 grams
Wild Salmon (4oz) – 19 grams
Quinoa (1 cup cooked) – 8 grams
Black Beans (1/2 cup cooked) – 8 grams
Tofu (4oz) – 8 grams
Almonds (1oz) – 6 grams
Organic Eggs (1 large) – 6 grams
Mushrooms (4oz) – 4 grams
Please note that eggs are not in the same food class as dairy, but tend to be a more common allergen for those who are allergic or sensitive to milk. Also, exact protein amounts may vary slightly for the above foods based on cuts, brands, and/or cooking methods.
In our house, we aim to get that 10 to 35% of calories from protein in each meal to keep things balanced. Since we do have egg sensitivities under our roof, our diet is not only dairy-free, but also predominantly egg-free, soy-free, and gluten-free, yet we still manage to get a good protein fix!
Here are a couple of sample menus that I regularly dish up:
Cool Weather Day …
Breakfast: Lean Sausage with Roasted Sweet Potatoes (16 grams)
Lunch: Chicken Soup (20 grams)
Dinner: Salmon with Quinoa and Seasonal Vegetables (30 grams)
Approximate Total Protein: 66 grams
Warm Weather Day …
Breakfast: Fruit Smoothie with Nut or Seed Butter (10 grams)
Lunch: Chef’s-Style Chicken Salad (26 grams)
Dinner: Turkey Burger on a Whole Grain Bun with Steamed Broccoli (25 grams)
Approximate Total Protein: 61 grams
For snacks, fresh fruit and popcorn are our favorites, but on heavy fitness days, we incorporate some post-workout protein, too.