5 Quick and Easy Protein-Packed Dinner Ideas – Diabetes Daily

zucchini pasta with shrimp and tomato closeup. Horizontal top view

I always strive to make my meals as high-protein and low-carb as possible. Protein-rich foods not only make you feel fuller longer, but they will also boost your metabolism. Having a diet rich in protein will allow you to add lean muscle mass and will also mean fewer carbohydrates, which could help with some weight loss as well. I am loving my dinner choices as of late and wanted to share these easy, delicious options with you all. The best part is since they are all low-carb, they are very easy on my blood sugars.

Here are my five easy-to-make, go-to meals. You can change the flavoring by simply adding any different sauces or spices of your liking. For these dishes, I don’t really need recipes because they are so simple to just throw together, but I’ve included some instructions and links to recipes for those who need some extra guidance.

I hope you enjoy!

Shrimp and Zucchini Linguini

Photo credit: Adobe Stock

Shrimp is one of the more protein-dense foods you can find. Each gram of shrimp is made up of 25% protein! It’s also extremely easy and quick to cook, in many different ways.

You can easily prepare this in many ways. You can either grill the shrimp until pink, or a foolproof way is baking it in the oven at 400 degrees for 8 minutes; works every time for me! You can make shrimp scampi and just swap out the pasta with zucchini linguini. You can make this yourself or you can find it already “zoodled” at many grocery stores. You can also make shrimp and zoodles over marinara or another sauce of your liking. You can also give it an Asian twist and create a shrimp stir-fry, adding nutrient-rich vegetables as well.

This is one dish where cauliflower rice would be a nice accompaniment. All of these ideas are extremely low-carb and may even keep you from late night snacking!

Ground Turkey Stuffed Peppers

Photo credit: Adobe Stock

It’s funny because I have never had turkey on Thanksgiving. Ever! I am just not a fan. However, over the past few years, I have warmed up to the idea of turkey burgers and chopped turkey meat, which has given me many more meal options. And turkey has about 32 grams of protein in just four ounces!

This is one of my favorites, and it is so simple to make. I saute some garlic into a pan, add the chopped turkey meat and let it brown. In the meantime, I halve the peppers and deseed them. I then brush them with avocado oil and cook for 20-25 minutes until soft. When the meat is done, I drait it in a colander and throw it back into the pot. I add some marinara sauce (Rao’s is my favorite since it’s low in carbs and very flavorful). I stuff the peppers with the saucy meat, sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top, and bake at 400° for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese is brown.

You can easily add cauliflower rice as a substitute and get in more veggies too! Here is another easy variation on this dish.

Meatballs and Edamame Pasta

Photo credit: Allison Caggia

Spaghetti and meatballs is one of the most well-known comfort foods, and with a couple of swaps, it can be diabetes-friendly as well. The type of meat you use will influence the amount of protein in the dish, but if you go with ground beef, you can expect about 18 grams of protein per three ounces. Many prepare their meatballs with breadcrumbs, but you can easily substitute them to make it even lower-carb. You can use golden flaxseed meal (regular flaxseed will work, too) or almond flour and add some parmesan cheese for some flavor and extra holding power.

One of my favorite newest finds is the Explore Cuisine Edamame Pasta. I was pleasantly surprised to see how much protein was in one very filling serving. A measly two-ounce portion contains a whopping 24 grams of protein! These noodles also pack in a ton of healthy and filling fiber, leading to a smaller net carbohydrate count.

Chicken Fajitas

Photo credit: Adobe Stock

Pretty much the only thing I ever get at a Mexican restaurant is chicken fajitas. I pass on the tortilla wraps and enjoy the chicken and vegetables and my very stable blood sugars. This is extremely easy to make, especially if you choose to use pre-cooked rotisserie chicken! You can even microwave frozen vegetables to keep this an under five-minute meal, or you can throw it all in a pan or wok. You can add whichever seasons and spices you like, and this meal will keep you full for hours. Add some salsa, and guacamole for some healthy fat, and sprinkle some cheese on top to finish it off.

Crab Cakes

crab cake

Photo credit: Ralph Daily (Flickr – CC BY 2.0)

Crab cakes are high in nutrients and low in calories. They’re also extremely high in protein, with one serving totaling 20 grams of protein. And while you are getting your protein, you will also get healthy vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin B-12, zinc and copper. Crab is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help moderate your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease. Another benefit of omega-3 is it reduces inflammation, which can enhance the function of your immune system and lower your risk of cancer.

I make this meal all in one bowl. I first toss in a can of crab meat, add a whole egg, some diced peppers, and green onions. I then give it a splash of Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce and finish it off with two tablespoons of honey dijon mustard. Create equal cakes and use either flaxseed or almond meal to get it to a consistency easy to shape and then as a coating. Pan fry at medium-high heat to brown each side, and then throw it in the oven for 10 minutes at 350° to finish them off.

The evenings are a hectic time in my house. Whether it’s my kids needing to be rushed off to their activities, or me just coming home from the gym, I love having easy, healthy meal ideas on hand. I also make these in large batches so I can get more than one meal out of them. I hope you try some of these tasty meals that are packed with protein!



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Author: Mabel Freeman