Eat Smart: Become a Pro With Protein (FN1681 Reviewed Feb. 2019)

All foods made from meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, nuts and seeds are in the Protein Foods Group. Beans (such as kidney and navy beans) also are part of the vegetable group.

Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., Professor and Food and Nutrition Specialist

Brooke Nell, Dietetics Student (former)

Availability: Web only

Egg joke

Do you know?

1. What does protein do for your body?
2. How many ounces of protein does a 7-year-old girl need each day?
3. True or False? Protein, along with fat and carbohydrates, provides calories.
4. True or False? Protein only makes up a small portion of your muscles, organs and immune system.

Answers: 1. Protein, along with exercise, helps build and maintain muscles in your body. Protein also helps with healing. 2. 4 ounce equivalents 3. True 4. False. Protein makes up a large portion of muscles, organs and your immune system.

How Much Protein Do You Need?

The amount of food from the Protein Foods Group you need to eat depends on your age, whether you are a boy or girl and the amount of physical activity you get. Most people eat enough food from this group.

Protein Needs

One ounce equivalent of protein =

• 1 ounce cooked lean beef, pork, chicken or fish (about the size of four dice)
• 1 egg
• 1 Tbsp. of peanut butter
• ½ ounce nuts or seeds (small handful or about 25 peanuts; golf ball size)
• ¼ cup of cooked beans such as kidney or navy beans
• ¼ cup of tofu

 Make a Protein Plan!

About how many “ounce equivalents” of protein do you need, according to Table 1? _____. (You might need more depending on how active you are.)

Tip: Choose lean proteins, and enjoy different kinds of protein.


Here’s a sweet treat with a secret ingredient: black beans. Beans are a good source of protein.

Black Bean Brownies

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 eggs
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
¼ c. cocoa powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¾ c. sugar
½ c. semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Lightly grease an 8- by 8-inch baking pan.
3. Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips in a blender; blend until smooth. (Note: This recipe includes no flour.)
4. Pour mixture into baking dish.
5. Sprinkle with chocolate chips.
6. Bake for about 30 minutes or until top is dry and sides start to pull away from the baking dish.

Makes 16 servings. Per serving: 140 calories, 6 grams (g) fat, 3 g protein, 20 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber and 105 milligrams sodium


U.S. Department of Agriculture with a wide range of nutrition resources

Eat Smart. Play Hard. This website has information for parents and kids, including fun educational games and recipes.

Reviewed February 2019




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