Are you ready to start your indoor workouts this fall and winter? We’ve highlighted the importance of staying active when the weather outside gets colder (it’s great for your immune system and general wellness), and now it’s time to highlight how crucial protein is for your immune system and your workouts, especially if you’re an older adult or senior. Thankfully, it’s easy to hit your protein goals no matter your age with the three high-protein meals below.
As individuals age, we tend to lose muscle mass and strength due to a process called sarcopenia. Protein plays a significant role in maintaining and repairing muscle tissue. When everyone — but especially seniors — engage in physical exercise, the American Council on Exercise reports that protein becomes vital for muscle repair and growth.
Adequate protein intake also supports better physical performance, such as improved strength, endurance, and balance, which are essential for maintaining an active and independent lifestyle for seniors. Finally, protein helps maintain bone density, reducing the risk of fractures and osteoporosis in older adults. These high-protein meals will get you started!
High-Protein Meals: Protein Oatmeal Power Bowls
Oats are a good source of various nutrients, including fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, thiamine (Vitamin B1), and manganese. They also contain antioxidants, such as avenanthramides, which are unique to oats and may have heart-protective effects.
Oats also contain various antioxidants that help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body, potentially offering protection against chronic diseases. For example, some studies suggest that the antioxidants and fiber in oats may have anti-cancer effects, particularly in relation to colorectal cancer.
This high-protein oatmeal is a great way to incorporate both protein and oats into your morning, creating a delicious and hearty meal that will energize you and your indoor workouts all day. It provides a balance of complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, fiber, and a good amount of protein, making it a nutritious and filling breakfast option. Adjust the sweetness and consistency to your liking and enjoy your protein-packed oatmeal!
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or any milk of your choice)
1 scoop of your preferred protein powder (vanilla or unflavored works well)
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Toppings (optional): sliced fruits (banana, berries), nuts (almonds, walnuts), a drizzle of honey or maple syrup
In a small saucepan, combine the rolled oats and almond milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the oats start to soften and absorb the liquid. This usually takes around 5-7 minutes.
As the oats begin to thicken, add the chia seeds, ground flaxseed, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Stir well to combine all the ingredients.
Once the oatmeal reaches your desired consistency, turn off the heat.
Remove the saucepan from the stove and let it sit for a minute.
Mix in the protein powder, ensuring it’s thoroughly incorporated into the oatmeal.
Transfer the oatmeal to a bowl.
Top your high-protein oatmeal with your favorite toppings. Sliced fruits, nuts, a drizzle of honey or maple syrup, or any other toppings you prefer.
High-Protein Meals: Tangy Quinoa Salad
This high-protein quinoa salad is not only rich in protein from the quinoa and chickpeas but also offers a variety of flavors and textures from the vegetables and herbs. It’s a satisfying and nutritious meal that can be enjoyed as a main dish or a side for lunch or dinner. Adjust the ingredients and seasonings to suit your preferences.
Quinoa is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids, making it an excellent plant-based protein source. It also contains a good balance of other important nutrients such as fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, and various B vitamins. Quinoa’s secret superpower? It is rich in antioxidants such as quercetin and kaempferol, which have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancer, and antidepressant effects.
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water or vegetable broth
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup diced cucumber
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds (optional)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa and water or vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is cooked. Once done, fluff it with a fork and let it cool.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, chickpeas, diced cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red onion, parsley, and mint. Toss gently to mix the ingredients.
If using, add the crumbled feta cheese and toasted pine nuts or slivered almonds to the salad.
In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing: olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, minced garlic, salt, and pepper.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat all the ingredients evenly.
Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Serve the salad immediately or refrigerate for a few hours to let the flavors meld before serving.
High-Protein Meals: Hearty Chicken Quinoa Soup
Forget chicken noodle soup. This cozy dinner has all the flavors of your mother’s kitchen, but with the added nutritional punch of quinoa.
The liquid content of chicken soup helps keep you hydrated, which is important for overall health and maintaining bodily functions while you work out indoors. Studies even suggest that some components in chicken soup may have mild anti-inflammatory properties and might help alleviate cold symptoms, such as reducing nasal congestion or improving mild cold symptoms — perfect for cold and flu season!
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups cooked chicken breast, shredded or diced
1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parsley for garnish (optional)
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the diced onion, carrots, and celery. Sauté for 5-7 minutes until the vegetables start to soften.
Add the minced garlic, thyme, and rosemary. Stir and cook for an additional minute until fragrant.
Pour in the chicken or vegetable broth and bring the mixture to a boil.
Add the rinsed quinoa to the pot. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until the quinoa is cooked and has expanded.
Once the quinoa is cooked, add the cooked chicken and cannellini beans to the soup. Allow the soup to simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust the seasoning as needed.
Once ready, serve the high-protein chicken quinoa soup in bowls. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired.