high protein side dishes

High Protein Side Dishes: 12 Unique & Healthy Recipes

The high protein diet is often pursued by people adamant about losing weight. With fewer carbs, the body relies more on protein for energy; thus, nothing accumulates or becomes an extra weight. However, just like any diet, you must understand it carefully and pick the right foods for this to be effective.

For instance – you can’t just go all meat. You need various nutrients, and diversifying your side dishes is an excellent way to meet your requirements! You can use these high-protein side dishes to achieve that. They’re the most delicious ways to have a healthy yet unique protein meal.

1. Marinated Tofu

Tofu is the classic, plant-based alternative to meat. It’s rich in protein and highly versatile; thus, you can prepare it in many ways, like grilled, seared, or stir-fried. Of those many ways, this marinated tofu is the best for side dish purposes. It’s simple, crisp, and flavorful, allowing it to suit several meal types. Also, you can turn it into a salad if you need a side salad.

2. Pan-Seared Halloumi

Halloumi looks different from most cheeses. It has a high melting point, so it holds its shape even when you pan-sear it, making it look like tofu. However, that’s the outside appearance – the cheese’s insides can get gooey and melty, so digging into each piece is an incredible experience. Thus, make this pan-seared halloumi if you’re having a lovely meal and want a savory, sweet, and cheesy side dish.

3. Paneer in Butter Garlic Cream Sauce

Another cheesy side dish you might enjoy is this paneer in butter garlic cream sauce. Paneer is India’s most famous cheese, made from either cow’s or buffalo’s milk. It’s used for various dishes but can also be made into a side dish. The paneer in cream sauce is savory, intense, and decadent, but if you want sides that are not too saucy, you can opt for fried paneer.

4. Fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls

These fresh Vietnamese spring rolls have two high protein elements: the shrimp filling and peanut sauce. Some recipes add to or replace the peeled shrimp with chicken, meat, or beef for more protein. Besides those, each rice paper roll is stuffed with veggies, vermicelli, and mint. Hence, when you dip and bite into each spring roll, your tongue is greeted by a refreshing and savory complex of flavors and textures.

5. Stir-Fried Anchovies and Peanuts

Stir-fried anchovies are a beloved side dish in China and South Korea. However, the two nations prepare them differently, with the Korean version being observably sweeter. This recipe is Chinese-style, so it’s perfect for occasions when you need a savory side. Moreover, it combines two protein-rich ingredients – fish and nuts – making it even more perfect for those following high-protein diets, like you!

6. One-Pot Curried Chickpeas

To make this one-pot curried chickpeas, you’ll combine the legumes with many flavorful ingredients. The list includes Thai red curry paste, tomatoes, coconut milk, fish sauce, brown sugar, turmeric, curry powder, and more. Hence, the resulting flavor and texture profile is rich, creamy, and saucy – perfect on a bed of rice. However, if you’re avoiding carbs, you can swap the rice for protein-rich mains or salads.

7. Butter Bean Mash

Mashed potatoes are a popular and classic side dish because they’re great with nearly everything except high protein diets. Although there are specific mashed potato recipes adapted to increase protein content, you’re better off with this alternative: butter bean mash. It’s still creamy, smooth, and delicious, albeit with slightly different flavors. Moreover, using butter beans ensures a more genuine and higher protein content while including unique nutrients.

8. Pinto Bean Soup

If you need a side soup, this Mexican pinto bean soup is incredibly creamy and delicious. Compared to other bean types, pinto beans are softer and tenderer, hence the melt-on-your-mouth textures. There are also fire-roasted tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, vegetable broth, and a whole medley of spices and seasonings. The latter includes cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes, and more. Thus, expect this dish to be very flavorful.

9. Quinoa Tuna Salad

Quinoa became a popular grain alternative or pseudocereal because of its high protein content. Thus, by combining it with tuna in this salad, you get a side dish incredibly rich in the nutrients you need. Moreover, this recipe is gluten-free and packed with veggies, allowing it to offer more than just protein. It’s inclusive, nutritious, and delicious – a great treat to share with everyone, whether on a diet or not.

10. Creamy Chicken Apple Salad

Cold chicken salads, like chicken Waldorf or this creamy chicken apple, make great side dishes for high-protein cookouts or BBQs. They contribute chilled, crisp, and creamy flavors that complement roasted meats. However, what makes this recipe better than chicken Waldorf or other similar salads is that it’s diabetic-friendly! There are no added sugars – only chicken, celery, onions, apples, walnuts, yogurt, light mayo, lemon, and black pepper.

11. Mexican Three Bean Salad

Bean salads are the most recommended high-protein side dishes. There are many types, such as white bean and balela, but if you want an assortment of flavors, colors, and textures, try this Mexican three-bean salad. It has three types of beans: black, kidney, and either great northern or cannellini. Besides the beans, this salad has corn kernels, bell peppers, onions, jalapenos, cilantro, avocado, and a homemade citrus vinaigrette.

12. Mango Edamame Salad

Edamame is a term for young or immature soybean pods. They’re a delicacy in Japan, often steamed or boiled and served alone beside Japanese meals. As a legume, it’s rich in protein. However, in this recipe, you’ll combine shelled edamame with mangos, red onions, cucumbers, black beans, corn, mint, and lime tahini dressing. In this way, not only do you get more protein, you get fresher and more delicious flavors!

AboutRibana Hategan

Ribana is a certified pastry chef and passionate home cook who curates and develops recipes that are high on nutrition. She develops and tests cost effective, nutritious meals using quality ingredients to help people better their everyday eating experiences.