Creamy and versatile, cottage cheese packs in approximately 15 grams of protein per 1/2-cup serving. Perfect plain or spiced up with a sprinkle of cinnamon, it also works well in lasagna and other cheesy pasta dishes or even stirred into pancake batter. For a sweet breakfast treat or anytime pick-me-up, pair cottage cheese with a 1/2 cup of diced pineapple or melon. Concerned about fat content? Low fat cottage cheese (1 percent or 2 percent milk fat) clocks in at 100 calories and 2 grams of fat per 1/2-cup serving. Regular cottage cheese (4 percent milk fat) contains 116 calories and 5 grams of fat per half cup.
Eggs are a good source of protein, contain beneficial amounts of iron and B vitamins, and provide your pregnancy with choline, an important nutrient for brain development. Plus, locked up in every sunny yellow egg yolk is approximately 20 IU of the sunshine vitamin, giving you a little egg-stra motivation to include this nutritional powerhouse in your prenatal diet.
To keep an egg-based breakfast from getting boring, try these egg white and turkey bacon wrap or take eggs to an elegant new level with this summer squash frittata. Just remember, egg whites don’t contain vitamin D. You must use the whole egg (or just the yolks) to get your share of the sunshine vitamin.
Diligently eating your veggies? Add some protein to steamed broccoli and leafy greens by topping with grated parmesan cheese just before serving—or try this tasty recipe for parmesan-topped baked tomatoes. Parmesan also works well paired with fruit or stirred into soups and provides 10 grams of protein per 1-ounce serving. Offering 8 grams of protein per 1-ounce serving, cheddar is another cheese that makes boosting your protein intake a breeze. Use grated cheese as a garnish in soups, melt and stir with milk (8 grams of protein per cup) for a quick cheese sauce, or pair with an apple for a nutritionally balanced snack treat.
With 8 grams of protein per 1/4-cup serving, along with plenty of fiber, iron, and slow-burning carbohydrates, there's a lot to love about lentils now that you're pregnant. Low cost and low in fat, the legume seeds provide more folate/folic acid than any other unfortified food: eating half a cup of cooked lentils a day provides 180 mcg of folate, or approximately 45 percent of the RDI for pregnant women. Canned lentil soup makes for a quick snack or protein-packed hot lunch. Or if you have time, make your own. This easy recipe for hearty lentil stew allows for lots of veggie variations to suit your taste—diced potatoes or zucchini, carrots and celery, or a bag of baby spinach stirred in near the end. It also takes kindly to a garlicky smoked sausage—diced and added in the middle of cooking—for even more protein power.
Need protein right now? Protein boosting powers bars are a quick, convenient way to give your protein intake an instant uptick. Typically made with such ingredients as soy protein, seeds and nuts, and oats, power bars offer anywhere from 10 grams to 25 grams or more of protein. From traditional granola bars to chocolate-coated bars that look and taste more like candy, there is no shortage of power bars to choose from. But try picking a bar made with other pregnancy-friendly ingredients, including berries and dried fruit (for vitamin C and some iron) and folic-acid fortified whole grains. Bars to avoid? Those with too much added sugar (honey is a good alternative) and artificial ingredients.
Packed with lots of slow-burning carbohydrates and anywhere from 7 to 10 grams of protein per serving, a steaming bowl of oatmeal makes for a rib-sticking breakfast that will help you feel full and energetic all morning long. And to keep it in perspective, 1 ounce of oats has TWICE the protein of wheat or corn flakes. When choosing oatmeal, look for "slow cooking whole oats" or "steel cut" oats for maximum nutrition—oats are also a great source of insoluble fiber, which plays a key role in blood sugar control. Cook oats with milk for even more protein and extra calcium, toss in some chopped fruit for sweetness (and a few extra vitamins) and enjoy!
With approximately 400 grams of omega-3s in every 4-ounce serving, tofu provides 14.4 percent of the daily value for these especially fats. For your prenatal or new mom diet, tofu is also a good source of protein and calcium. Even if you're not a vegetarian, give tofu a try in dishes ranging from Soy-Glazed Tofu (easy!) to this super-tasty Sweet Potato Curry with Tofu.
Go nuts! A 1-ounce serving of nuts offers anywhere from 4 to 7 grams of protein—and so much more. Almonds, walnuts, and cashews are filled with heart-healthy fats and walnuts provide a hefty dose of omega-3s—essential fatty acids that can boost Baby's cognitive development. Nuts can be munched by the handful as a quick snack or chopped and sprinkled over veggies or yogurt for added texture and flavor. Prefer nut butter? Peanut butter contains 7 grams of protein per 2-tablespoon serving and can be spread or smeared on just about anything. Almond butter and cashew butter come in close behind with approximately 5 grams of protein per serving. Because of their mild flavors, almond and cashew butters can be used in smoothies to add extra bulk.
Why go Greek for your yogurt fix? A 6-ounce serving of nonfat plain strained, Greek-style yogurt contains 18 grams of protein—twice as much protein as most brands of regular yogurt. And it's also calcium rich; 1 serving contains as much as 20 percent of the RDI for bone-building mineral. Creamy and super thick, Greek-style yogurt tends to feel more substantial to the tongue than its runnier counterparts. Top with honey or drizzle with a little maple syrup and you have one protein-rich, taste bud-pleasing treat.
If you're not a vegetarian, then a serving of beef or chicken is a simple way to pack your diet with protein. A sizzling sample of protein content among commonly eaten meats include:
4-ounce hamburger patty: 28 grams protein
6-ounce steak: 42 grams
Other cuts of beef: 7 grams of protein per ounce
3.5-ounce chicken breast: 30 grams protein
1 chicken drumstick: 11 grams protein
Need some healthy inspiration for chicken or beef dishes? Try this <a href="http://family.go.com/food/pkg-family-approved-recipes/recipe-an-797773-roasted-beef-tenderloin-with-gorgonzola-cream-sauce-t/ ">marinated beef with vegetable stir fry or how about slow-cooked soy ginger chicken for dinner tonight.