The Best Way to Add Protein to Your Next Bowl

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Photo: Claire Lower

I’ve recently gotten really into powerlifting, and “getting enough protein” does not mean what it used to. I cannot, and will not, abide a protein shake. I don’t like smoothies—or any beverage that isn’t Diet Coke—all that much to begin with, and powders bum me out. My new motto is “you gotta eat meat to build meat,” but meat—by itself—is not a “proper meal.”

But put that meat in a bowl with a few other choice ingredients, and you have something society would accept as an entree. A “bowl” usually indicates the presence of protein on top of some sort of grain, with vegetables and other plant parts sprinkled in for good measure. But there’s no law against dropping the carb for more protein. You can make a bowl with a hummus base, is what I’m saying. And it’s really good.

I did not invent the hummus bowl. You can find several versions of it online, and they all follow the same basic format: Lay down a thick layer of hummus, add your favorite animal protein (or tofu, or seitan, or something similar), and supplement with vegetables. You can, of course, add grains, or a side of pita, or any other carb you like, but the extra bit of fiber and protein from the hummus makes it extra filling (and it tastes really good, because its hummus).

How to build a hummus bowl

First, you’ll need some hummus. You can make your own or buy a tub. I’m currently working with a store-bought roasted garlic hummus. Lay down a half cup of hummus and smear it around in an aesthetically pleasing manner.

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Next, pick your protein. Chicken, beef, lamb, shrimp, and roasted salmon are all good options, but cured, smoked, or raw salmon is fun too, as is tofu (specifically tofu puffs). Fancy preserved tuna might be nice as well.

Add some vegetables—at least two, and make sure one of them is crisp or crunchy to keep the bowl from reading as overly mushy. If you want a third plant part, opt for something pickled, for increased acidity.

For finishing touches, think about balancing flavors and textures. Add a little bit of crumbly cheese like feta, chèvre, or blue to increase salt and richness, and herbs, like basil, chives, parsley, or cilantro for freshness.

Finally, do not forget the acid. Hummus and meat are very rich and, while vegetables can help balance that out, they don’t cut through fat like lemon juice, vinegar, or pickle brine. You don’t need a full-fledge vinaigrette, as hummus is something of a sauce itself, but a squeeze of lemon or lime juice or a splash of pure vinegar or brine will bring balance to your bowl. Scoop it all up with a fork, crackers, or wedges of warm pita, and feel the protein go to work building your strong muscles. (At least that’s what I like to imagine is happening.)

   

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