Tired of Chicken? Try These 4 Unusual Protein Sources

If you've been with me for a while, you know that I'm a lover of eggs, grass-fed beef, and chicken.

These foods are loaded with protein. The protein my body needs to keep my energy levels up and my muscles strong.

But even I tire of these favorites from time to time, so I'm always looking for new ways to get quality protein into my daily diet.

When I'm just completely over the chicken and meat... here are a few protein options I turn to:

1. Hemp Seeds

Also called hemp hearts, these tiny seeds have a mild, nutty flavor and are packed with nutrition.

They're exceptionally rich in two essential fatty acids – linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) – and loaded with protein.

In fact, 25% of hemp seeds' calories come from protein.

You get about 10 grams of protein in each serving (about 3 tablespoons).

I like to shake them on my salads, or sprinkle them on my yogurt. The seeds provide a nice crunch, without adjusting the flavor of what I'm eating.

Now, I know some of you will see the word "hemp" and automatically think "marijuana."

While it's true that hemp seed shells may contain trace amounts of THC, the active compound in marijuana, most commercial hemp seeds have had the shells removed, so it's not likely to get "high" on hemp seeds.

2. Octopus

I'm an adventurous eater, but my exposure to octopus was low until we moved to Florida.

Topped with the right sauce, a plate of octopus can make my mouth water.

You may think octopus is tough and chewy like calamari, but it actually is quite tender. More like chicken and lobster than squid.

Three ounces of octopus has about 25 grams of protein, so if you're feeling bold, go for it.

3. Beans

This time of year, I love cooking with beans.

A nice warm bowl of bean soup on a cool fall day can be oh-so-satisfying, and give you some much needed protein.

One cup of pinto or kidney beans delivers over 40 grams of protein. Lentils give you a little less, but still a decent number... about 20 grams.

Toss them in a pot with some vegetables and stock, set your stove on simmer, and the whole house will start to smell incredible.

4. Soba Noodles

I'm not a huge pasta fan, but every now and then I do have a craving for a bowl of spaghetti with a nice, hearty tomato sauce.

In place of traditional, out-of-the-box pasta, though, I opt for soba noodles. Also known as Japanese buckwheat noodles.

These long, stringy noodles have a decent count of protein – about 6 grams per cup – and help satisfy my pasta craving.

If the health experts are right, most older adults are falling short on getting enough protein each day to maintain muscle mass and strength.

Give your body a protein boost and add one of these fun unusual foods to your diet.

You might be surprised at how much you like them... just like me with the 8-legged sea monster.

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