7 Healthy Swaps To Replace Protein From Chicken
STORY: Priyanka Elhence
13 June 2022
Worried about the ongoing chicken sitch and the rising prices when it is available? Don’t be. Although there’s no denying this (usually) economic and versatile protein is a national favourite, there are several healthy swaps that you can make for a great meal - and still get the required amount of protein in your diet.
Here’s what to reach for instead:
1. Lentils and beans
Lentils are very high in fibre, have a low fat content, are cheaper than chicken, and will keep you feeling full for longer. Make them in a curry, throw them in a stew or use them to create a lentil salad.
Beans are also a big protein favourite with vegetarians when it comes to replacing meat and chicken. Low in fat, high in protein, beans are also high in iron and magnesium, as well as calcium and fibre, both good for keeping you feeling satiated and keeping blood sugar low.
Did you know that eggs are known as the protein powerhouse that have stood the test of time? Inexpensive, easy to prepare and packed full of important nutrients such as choline and selenium, you really can’t go wrong with these high-quality protein packages (one hard-boiled egg contains 6.29g of protein, effectively providing men with 11% of their daily protein intake, and women with 14%).
Fun fact: the colour of the shell doesn’t make any difference when it comes to the quality of the egg. If possible, choose free-range or organic eggs. Worried about cholesterol? Mix one whole egg with egg whites to keep the protein up, and the cholesterol and saturated fat in check.
For a protein alternative to chicken, there isn’t a more protein-rich superfood than quinoa. A pseudo-cereal, it is one of the few vegetarian complete proteins that contains all the essential amino acids from lysine to isoleucine that the body ideally needs.
Red meat often gets a bad rap health-wise (and with good reason too), but there’s no denying how satisfying a good steak can be. Though more expensive than its poultry counterpart, a 3oz serving of red meat gives you half the protein needed by the average adult, and contains beta-alanine, an amino acid that boosts muscle function.
Tip: Grass-fed beef has a healthier fat profile than corn-fed beef, and is usually less fatty with less saturated fat and more unsaturated fats like heart-healthy omega-3s and conjugated linoleic acids (which are believed to help boost muscle and decrease body fat).
If you’re not a fan of red meat, pork makes for a good white-meat substitute for chicken. It is extremely rich in protein and leucine, the latter being the amino acid that helps supercharging recovery after a workout. A 3oz pork chop gives men 43% of their recommended protein intake, and women 52%.
Tofu is a great alternative to chicken recipes as it is a good source of high-quality, complete protein. Plus it’s lower in saturated fat and higher in beneficial nutrients like iron and vitamin D, with more protein per serving than other plant foods. Since tofu is quite bland on its own, it can take on any flavour you want, depending on how you marinate or spice it, much like chicken.
Sardines are already famous for their huge vitamin D content and for being a great source of selenium (a whopping 87% of your daily recommended amount), the perfect mineral for enhanced cardiovascular health. Why swap chicken for these oily fishes? Because they not only pack a competitive protein punch, but also contain a very unique kind of protein that’s proven to reduce insulin resistance.