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High-Protein Meal Ideas to Keep You Energized This Fall

As the crisp Pacific Northwest autumn air settles in and the leaves turn vibrant shades of red and gold, it’s time to enjoy the hearty and nutritious meals that can keep us energized throughout the fall season. 

These come just in time for pumpkin-patching, leaf raking, and all the holiday festivities. Emphasizing high-protein ingredients in your dishes promotes muscle health and helps you maintain a steady energy level during shorter days. 

Protein is one of the main nutrients to provide satiety or fullness. Here are eight high-protein meal ideas (all dietitian-approved) for seasonal culinary inspiration. 

Fueling Fall: 8 High-Protein Meals to Keep You Energized

Hearty Quinoa and Roasted Vegetable Salad: Start the fall season right with a delightful quinoa and roasted vegetable salad. Quinoa, a complete protein source, will provide all the essential amino acids your body needs. Toss in seasonal vegetables like roasted butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, carrots, and beets, which are rich in vitamins and minerals and naturally anti-inflammatory. 

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A Hearty Quinoa and Roasted Vegetable Salad on a blue plate along with a fork.
Hearty Quinoa and Roasted Vegetable Salad

Drizzle with a tangy balsamic vinaigrette to complement the flavors, making this salad an excellent protein-packed lunch or dinner option. This also keeps well in the fridge for days (meal prep done!). 

Creamy Pumpkin Chickpea Curry: Pumpkins are not only a fall favorite but also a great source of fiber and nutrients. Combine cooked pumpkin with protein-rich chickpeas in a creamy curry for a satisfying and warming meal. 

This dish is not only vegetarian but also provides an abundance of flavor with aromatic spices like cumin, turmeric, and coriander. Serve it over brown rice or quinoa to boost the protein content even further and make it extra hearty!

Sizzling Skillet Chicken with Apples: Apples, another local seasonal staple, are not just for pies. Pair them with skinless chicken breasts in a sizzling skillet for a savory and sweet meal. 

Chicken is a great source of lean protein, while apples add a natural sweetness and fiber to the dish. A dash of cinnamon and a sprinkle of chopped walnuts complete this autumn-inspired protein-rich recipe.

Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie: When the temperatures start to drop, bring on the comfort food. This vegetarian Shepard’s pie combines protein-rich lentils and savory mushrooms for a hearty and nutritious filling. 

Top it with a layer of creamy mashed sweet or white potatoes, which add essential vitamins and natural sweetness. Bake until golden brown, and you’ll have a satisfying high-protein meal that will keep you satisfied. This also makes a delicious leftover meal!

Turkey and Cranberry Stuffed Acorn Squash: Acorn squash is abundant in the fall (perhaps you even grew some) and makes for an ideal vessel for this high-protein meal. Fill roasted acorn squash halves with a mixture of lean ground turkey, quinoa, cranberries, and a medley of aromatic herbs. 

The combination of savory and slightly sweet flavors is perfect for the season, and the protein content will keep you feeling full and energized. You can easily substitute ground beef or a can of chickpeas for an alternative protein. 

Pumpkin Spice Protein Smoothie: Lean into the flavors of fall with a creamy pumpkin spice protein smoothie. Blend together unsweetened pumpkin puree, plain Greek yogurt, ½ a frozen banana, almond milk, and a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg. 

The author, a registered dietitian, incorporating cooking with a child.
Best of all, you can make these recipes as a family!

This tasty treat is a delightful way to start your day, refuel after a workout or enjoy as a snack on-the-go. 

Maple-Glazed Dijon Salmon: Salmon is an excellent source of high-quality protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. For a new twist on salmon, try a maple-glazed Dijon salmon recipe that combines the sweetness of maple syrup with the savory richness of the fish. Serve it with a side of roasted vegetables for a balanced and energizing meal.

Apple and Walnut Kale Chicken Salad: Take advantage of fall’s crisp apples and combine them with tender grilled chicken, kale and crunchy walnuts for a protein-packed salad that’s as nutritious as it is delicious. 

Toss it with a tart apple cider vinaigrette, and this salad is perfect for a light lunch or a satisfying dinner. This is another meal-prepped-friendly salad that can keep in the fridge for a few days without wilting.

Incorporating these high-protein meal ideas into your fall culinary repertoire not only ensures you stay energized but also allows you to relish the seasonal flavors to their fullest. So, as you enjoy the wonders of autumn, remember that your meals can be both a source of sustenance and a celebration of the season. Bon appétit!

Monika Jacobson

After growing up in the Inland Northwest, Monika Jacobson earned her Bachelor’s degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics at Washington State University. She moved to the west side and worked as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist in a myriad of settings–from luxury health clubs, to coaching athletes with sports nutrition, to home health clinical nutrition and various start-ups in Seattle-focused scientific wellness and genetics. After moving to Spokane with her family, she created Eat Move Thrive-Spokane because she wanted to transform people’s lives by teaching them how to make healthy food taste good. At Eat Move Thrive-Spokane, Monika teaches adult and kid cooking classes (online and in-person) and coaches clients one-on-one with their wellness goals centered on nutrition. She discusses how stress, sleep, hormones, and overall mental health affect the decisions we make about food. 

Read all of Monika’s articles here.

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