Avoiding nut products while snacking isn't always easy, especially when you're on the hunt for a protein-rich bite to stay full between meals. "Protein provides us with amino acids, and provides our body and our muscles with nourishment," says Dr Kristin Kirkpatrick. "From a snacking perspective though, protein helps to fill you up," she says.
So what's an allergy-afflicted girl to do? Here are some expert-approved, protein-packed snacks that won't have you breaking out in hives.
Brooke Alpert, founder of nutrition consulting company B Nutritious, recommends sunflower or pumpkin seeds as a nut-free alternative. "Seeds are a great heart-healthy, brain-healthy, everything-healthy snack that also has protein," she says. And sunflower butter is an excellent alternative to peanut butter, Kirkpatrick says.
Nutritionist Kristin Reisinger is a big fan of whipping up crispy lentil energy bites. Though there are a million different ways they can be made, Reisinger recommends mixing cooked lentils with additions like shredded coconut, sea salt, or a bit of honey. Then, roll them into balls and bake them for about 15 minutes. "Beans, when combined with other types of food, can give you a complete amino acid profile and they are super-rich in protein," she says.
Yep, eggs should definitely make appearances in your diet beyond brunch. "[Eggs] are so versatile and such a great and complete protein," Reisinger says. She recommends coupling a hardboiled egg with a few dashes of hot sauce to (literally) spice things up, adding hardboiled slices to a piece of wholemeal bread with mustard, or making a quick egg salad at home and spreading that on to a rice cake.
Dietitian Alex Caspero says she's a huge fan of edamame as a snack, adding that one cup of edamame tallies 17 grams of protein. "I will often recommend my clients keep a package of frozen edamame in the shell in the freezer at work," she says. "Yes, it's high in protein, but it's also fairly high in fibre. When I think about being satisfied and full, protein is important but so is fibre."
"Chia seeds are like flaxseeds on steroids, they're that much healthier for you," Shapiro says. "They provide calcium, protein, fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, and healthy carbohydrates." Shapiro says one great way to eat them as a snack is to make chia pudding. Since the seeds absorb 10 times their weight in liquid, mixing them with milk creates a delicious, thick mixture. Add vanilla extract, cinnamon, or spices for a "nutritionally dense" treat, Shapiro says.
Roasted chickpeas are a definite fave of our experts, who touted their many benefits. Caspero notes that they're a high-protein, high-fibre, and moderately low-kJ snack that can satisfy a crunchy craving.