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10 Foods You Didn’t Know Are Good Sources of Protein

Megan Ostler

READ TIME:3 min.

When it comes to protein, your first thoughts might be meat, poultry, eggs, or whey protein. People sometimes get their daily dose from protein powders or protein bars. Others get it from black beans or nut butters. Many people think that in order to get adequate protein, they need to bulk up their diet with these foods. What you may not realize is that you are probably already getting a fair amount of protein from regular foods!
Many of these foods are plant-based and high in protein, but they also contain other beneficial nutrients. So here is a list of 10 (often underestimated) high-protein sources!

Edamame beans

This is one of my favorite sources of plant-based proteins. It is versatile, delicious, easy to make, and not very high in calories. Many other plant proteins are high in calories for every gram of protein. Edamame clocks in at about 190 calories per cup with 17 grams of protein. Plus, it is high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, like iron and vitamin K. Purchase it frozen, microwave it, then you’ll have an easy snack, salad topping, or delicious ramen bowl ingredient!

Whole wheat bread

Bread gets a bad rap, but whole wheat versions can be a healthy carb source for your diet. At breakfast, people usually think of eggs for protein. Eggs do have six grams of protein, but a slice of high-quality, whole wheat bread has five grams, so enjoy your eggs, but don’t overlook that toast as a protein source, either!

Cottage cheese

This one might not shock, but it is often overlooked, especially as a low-calorie protein source. In a half cup of cottage cheese, there is a whopping 14 grams of protein and only 80 calories. There is a fair amount of sodium, so pair it with low-sodium fruit or veggies for a filling snack.


When it comes to dairy products, Greek Yogurt is often in the spotlight, and for good reason. It is a great protein source…but kefir is another high-protein dairy option with lots of probiotics (great for your gastrointestinal tract), calcium, vitamin D, and, of course, protein. In just 1 cup, there are 8–11 grams of protein. It is a quick, high-protein drink that is extremely low in lactose, making it a great choice for those with lactose intolerance.


Lentils should be the next superfood. They are cheap, versatile and loaded with nutrients. Along with many vitamins and minerals, half a cup of cooked lentils provides 9 grams of fiber and 12 grams of protein, which is amazing for satiety, especially considering that it only has 140 calories. If you aren’t eating lentils, you should start!


Green peas are a really cheap protein source, and they are so versatile. Cooked on the side, as a snack, in soup, in salad…these little legumes are a great source of fiber, vitamin C, Vitamin A, iron, potassium, and, of course, protein. In just one cup, there are eight grams of protein. They are also really family friendly and great finger food for little ones. Keep them in the freezer for a quick option the whole family will love.


Be careful with chickpeas, since they have 270 calories per cup. However, they also have 15 grams of protein, but those extra calories come from healthy sources, like complex carbs and healthy, unsaturated fats. We love to use this nutrient-rich food for vegan recipes, especially our vegan “tuna” salad and sweet chickpea salad recipes.


This might not be surprising, as it is known as a “meat alternative,” but protein is a great lean protein source with 90 calories and 10 grams of protein per half cup. This versatile protein source can be used in many forms: stir fry, salad, soup, and even smoothies. Silken tofu is a great protein option, especially for smoothies. Check out our delicious Soy Berry Smoothie recipe that won over the biggest tofu haters in the office.


Most people don’t think of vegetables when talking about protein, but many vegetables provide some protein, and they can add up to make a big difference in your diet. For example, one cup of cooked spinach has five grams of protein.


Quinoa is similar to whole wheat bread or other grains. The majority of the calories in these foods come from complex carbs, but they still provide a fair amount of protein. In one cup of cooked quinoa, there are eight grams of protein (more than an egg), so don’t overlook your whole grains when it comes to protein!

These often underestimated foods are not just high in protein, they’ll also give you some extra vitamins and minerals. So next time you’re reaching for a protein bar or shake, give these high-protein options a try! These ingredients are versatile and can be thrown into a snack or a meal. Either way, you’ll be getting the most nutritional value out of every bite!

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