So How Do I Actually Do Protein? Starring, The Greekest of Salads.


One day, I might stop harping on how important protein is for ALL aspects of mental and physical health. But since I’m writing this article for you now, we can correctly assume that day hasn’t come yet.

It will, though! Just as soon as folks figure out HOW to get in this magical macronutrient.

Let’s refer back to the previous article, wherein we figured out how to eyeball a functional 30+- gram serving size of lean protein. (As opposed to a commercial serving size, which is usually tiny. Just take a look at the miniscule smattering of chicken breast on a so-called “protein-packed” salad. Yep, especially the one you might find at any coffee-serving location that rhymes with “Barstucks.” It’s tiny, and often costs more than the chicken itself.)

Consider these options, to give you an idea of what we’re going for:

  • One (1) 2-cup container of Greek yogurt. Yep, that nice hand-sized bowl, right off the grocery shelf.
  • One (1) Full-size chicken breast, or one (1) block of superfirm tofu if vegan. Again, it’s only going to be about the size of your hand. Don’t be scared.
  • One (1) Package of decent deli meat. Look for chicken, ham, beef, or turkey with minimal added ingredients.
  • One (1) Pint carton of egg whites.
  • Two (2) Cans of tuna. Preferably wild caught, or at least caught in a conscientious manner. I’m not here to give any grief to dolphins, and I don’t think you are, either.

Normally, people think of protein LAST in a meal, and that’s why they often come up short. If you simply rearrange your priorities, the plate falls into place pretty easily!

But let’s keep it simple for today. I’ll give you one recipe to start with, and we’ll go from there in future articles.

Here’s your first example:

© pexels

The Greekest of Salads

Starring: One (1) 2-cup container of Greek yogurt, plus —

  • Vegetable(s) of choice.
  • Seasoning of choice.

Ever heard of the classic Mediterranean cucumber salad? Great. If not, that’s ok! Seriously, it’s ok. I was raised a few coasts and an ocean away from Eastern Europe. If it weren’t for family, I would never have been exposed to extracultural cuisine. But learning is what we’re here for!

The beauty of this simple dish is that all you need are the three ingredients above: Greek yogurt, veggies, and seasoning. That’s right, ANY vegetable your heart desires! The yogurt is so mild that you can chop up any non-starchy* piece of produce and dump it into the waiting container bowl without fear.

Step 1: Open the container of yogurt. (I’m partial to Fage’s creaminess when I want it thick, Chobani when I want tang, and Wallaby when I want organic. No one pays me for any product endorsement, so go with whatever brand you like best. Lowfat will be easier to digest, while higher fat will hang around longer, which means it’ll be up to you to figure out which option is going to best fit your needs.)

Step 2: Add your spices now. Salt, pepper, turmeric, dill, cardamom, whatever you like best! Go wild with flavor combinations. There are no rules here. If I’m being nonspecific about ingredients, it’s to encourage your imagination. Don’t worry about “doing it right.” You’re eating protein, which means you’re doing fine.

Step 3: Chop your veggies and dump them in the container, which also doubles conveniently as your serving bowl. You’ll probably find that only a small handful or so fit in at a time, which is fine.

Step 4: Prijatno! Keep the rest of your veggies on hand as you enjoy the dish, and add them to the yogurt for continuous crunch as you make your way through the bowl.

Step 5: Stop when you’re full. This is pretty important. ;) Don’t worry about finishing it until your body is ready.

*Potatoes, yams, winter squash, etc, all need to be cooked first before adding them to the salad.

Pretty easy, right?

Now some of you might be thinking, “Ok, she’s told us about protein, but what about fats and carbs? HOW CAN LIFE GO ON WITHOUT THEM?

Chill, folks.

These articles are meant for those of us who aren’t used to adequate protein, period. And it’s more common than you think!

Let’s get a handle on one macronutrient before I start messing with your head even further.

Patience, grasshopper. Cicada. Dragonfly nymph. Whatever you most closely identify with.



Thank you for reading! If you enjoy my take on fitness, you can train with me virtually anywhere in the world at Work Life Fitness, and follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter — I might even have a YouTube channel that shows you how to DownDog without overstretching those hams. (And if you really enjoy my take on fitness, then check out The Miracle on 98th Street for a shadowboxing memoir that kicks The Bell Jar out of the ring. Peace!)

NYC trainer, founder of Work Life Fitness, and here to troubleshoot your food and fitness problems.

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