Summer is a great time to get some exercise done and try out some new meals, but there’s always a risk that the heat might switch up your diet a little bit too much. Protein is the thing you need to watch out for – a lot of protein comes from hot food, and if you’re sticking to cold meals, you could end up putting on some extra weight.
We’ve teamed up with Peak Body to put together a selection of five delicious summer protein recipes, ones that can hopefully get your diet back into balance.
They might seem like a “lazy” option that you’d normally eat on a weekend night at home, but chicken fajitas are a surprisingly balanced option – easy, healthy and tasty.
A fajita can be as complex or as basic as you like, but the simplest method is:
- Two flour tortillas
- 4 ounces of chicken breast, whichever brand or kind you like best
- A teaspoon of Fajita seasoning
- A teaspoon of olive oil
- A tablespoon of water
- A small amount of red and/or yellow pepper, however much you prefer
However, if you’re wanting more of your five-a-day in the meal, you can add plenty of extras: garlic, juiced limes, extra peppers, onion or cherry tomatoes, just to name a few.
Cooking them is simple:
- Slice the chicken into strips, or assize of your choosing.
- Sauté the chicken in olive oil (be careful if it was pre-cooked, in case you accidentally spoil it).
- Add any extra ingredients and seasoning except the tortillas, adding more water if it still seems a bit dry. If you added peppers, they can be a good indicator of when it’s ready.
- Divide the mixture between the tortillas.
You can also add some spice if you want it to keep you full for longer, or use some soy chicken if you want to forgo meat in the meal entirely.
Salmon isn’t the most protein-heavy meat available, but it provides omega-3 fatty acids that keep your joints loose and mobile. It also seems to cool down quite fast and isn’t as thick or heavy as most other cooked meat. These salmon cakes put it into a more filling form, without you needing to cook something extra to go along with it.
All you need is:
- A small onion
- 6 ounces of drained, flaked salmon
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 8 crushed crackers (adjust this based on your preferences, as more crackers will lessen the salmon taste)
They’re really easy to make – just mix it all together into a bowl to create four small patties, then fry them in hot oil until they turn golden brown. This should take about ten minutes at most.
You can easily add some extra bits, like a tablespoon of lemon juice, some spinach leaves or a teaspoon of black pepper – anything that works with regular salmon will work here.
Power protein salad
This salad is excellent for irregular meal times, since you can make it in around fifteen minutes and keep it refrigerated, even if you’ve already eaten half – if you cut out the almonds, you can have it done in five minutes or less.
To make a single serving, you’d need:
- A ½ cup of raw almonds
- A tiny amount of extra virgin olive oil
- A ¼ teaspoon of smoked paprika
- A ¼ teaspoon of chilli powder
- A ¼ Teaspoon of salt
- Varying amounts of quinoa, edamame, kidney beans and chickpeas, depending on the balance you’d want
- A tiny amount of red onion
The cooking process is really easy:
- Road the almonds on a skillet at a medium-high heat.
- Mix the almonds, spices and olive oil in a bowl, until the almonds are covered.
- Add the almonds to the pan and sauté for up to five minutes, making sure to stir – you’ll start to smell the almonds and hear them cracking when they’re nearly done.
- Once they’re cooked, add them to the rest of the salad – there’s no special method, just put it all in a bowl.
If you want something more immediate, you can swap out the almonds for store-bought pre-cooked ones, and if you’ve got a lot of extra time you could even use this dish as a side-salad to another protein-heavy meal. Plus, if you let it cool and add some juicy fruit, it could be a nice counter to the warm summer sun.
Protein ice cream
Ice cream is far from the healthiest thing in the world, but in the summer heat, having something to cool down can be necessary to work out at your peak effectiveness. As long as it’s reserved for specific situations and not eaten as a regular snack, a small amount can be a great way to refresh yourself before or after a workout.
All you’d need is:
- A 500g tub of 2% Total Greek Yoghurt (other types can be used, but full-fat isn’t recommended)
- A ½ cup of vanilla whey protein powder (again, other types could be used)
- A small amount of sweeteners or protein flavdrops
- Some fresh fruit to add flavour (depending on your preferences, how much flavour you want, and how big the ice cream will be)
To make the ice cream, simply:
- Blend everything into something that looks like cream.
- Pour the mixture into a freezer-friendly container, like Tupperware, and put it in the freezer for forty minutes or more.
- Take it out and break up any ice with a fork, then stick it back in for another forty minutes and repeat as necessary.
- Eventually, it’ll be broken down enough to scoop properly.
There’s near-endless ways to alter and vary this recipe, but we wouldn’t recommend making it too often – it’s not meant to be eaten with every meal. Soya protein could be an interesting way to add some extra flavour and protein to the mixture, as long as you don’t go overboard with it.
Meatless Sloppy Joe
The Sloppy Joe’s name makes it sound like some cheap fast-food item, but with the right combination of beans and sauces you can make a protein-heavy pseudo-burger that’s just under 200 calories in total (minus the buns).
This is probably the most complex meal on this list:
- 1 jalapeño pepper (diced, without seeds or ribs unless you want the extra heat)
- 1 red bell pepper (diced)
- ½ a red onion (diced)
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- A ¼ cup of water (meant for the sauté)
- 1 cup’s worth of black and pinto beans (cooked)
- 1 cup of corn kernels
- Up to 3 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
- Slider buns or something similar (buns recommended, but anything can work)
This recipe could be served alongside a homemade Mexican BBQ sauce, but using a store-bought brand is faster and equally as healthy. To cook the sloppy joes:
- Sauté the red onion at a medium-high heat for up to 4 minutes (or until it goes soft), then add garlic and continue to sauté for around sixty seconds.
- Add the bell pepper and jalapeno for another 3-4 minutes of sautéing, along with the water to keep it from sticking.
- Add the sauce and simmer for ten minutes.
- Add the beans and corn, stir, and simmer for an extra ten minutes.
- Ass seasonings and the chopped cilantro.
- Stir, then serve.
This is quite a warm dish, but if you’re able to stand it in the summer heat, you’ll definitely find it both delicious and filling, as well as protein-packed. If you want, you could swap some of the beans for soya counterparts.