Man Food: 5 Meat-Free Snack Foods That Are High in Protein

While there’s nothing wrong with the predictable hunger killers — peanuts, pretzels, a piece of fruit — these go-to mini-meals are distinctly uninspired. Our weekly Man Food series will help you fight the scourge of boring snacks.

You may love meat, but you’re probably eating too much of it. American men and boys are getting more protein than they need in the form of beef, chicken, pork, and other meats (as well as eggs) and not enough in the form of legumes, low-fat dairy, and nuts, according to the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Fortunately, getting more meat-free protein in your diet is easy once you put your mind to it. These five snack recipes are made with vegetarian proteins like cheese, tofu, and nut butters, so they’ll fill you up while also helping you vary your diet.

1. Crispy Tofu Snack Pockets


Uncooked tofu | Source: iStock

Crispy fried tofu is stuffed with a mix of marinated vegetables for a snack that’s as delicious as it is healthy. These snacks are also the perfect party appetizer, since they look great on a serving tray. Plus, they’ll give you the protein you’re body is craving, with each half-cup serving of tofu containing 10 grams of protein. Recipe from Chef de Home.


  • ½ pound tofu
  • ½ cup mixed vegetables, finely diced
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sambal chili paste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, julienned
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, for frying
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Soy sauce (optional)

Directions: Pat the tofu dry, then slice into 2- to 3-inch wide rectangular pieces, each about ½-inch thick. Use a paring knife to make a slit in the center of each piece of tofu, making sure not to let the knife pass through the tofu.

Add the olive oil to a large, non-stick pan. Season the tofu with salt and cayenne pepper, then place in the pan, seasoned side down. Cook for about 4 minutes, until edges of tofu start to turn crisp. As the tofu cooks, season the other side with salt and cayenne pepper. Turn the tofu and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes.

As the tofu cooks, combine the sugar, chili paste, lemon juice, vegetables, garlic, and basil in a bowl. Mix well, then set aside.

Remove tofu from pan and let drain on a paper towel. Once tofu has cooled slightly, fill each piece with about ½ tablespoon of vegetable mixture. Arrange on a serving tray and serve with soy sauce for dipping.

2. Rice Cakes with Almond Butter and Sriracha

rice cake with nut butter

Rice cake with nut butter | Source: iStock

Great snacks don’t have to be complicated, as this three-ingredient snack from The Kitchn proves. Simply spread some almond butter (3.4 grams of protein per tablespoon) on a crunchy rice cake, then season with sriracha, and you’ll have a mini meal that tastes great in less than 2 minutes.


  • Rice cakes
  • Almond butter
  • Sriracha

Directions: Spread a thick layer of almond butter over a rice cake. Drizzle with sriracha to taste.

3. Crispy Parmesan Garlic Edamame

edamame on cutting board

Edamame | Source: iStock

Skip the chips and snack on crisp edamame seasoned with parmesan cheese and garlic instead. And unlike some veggie proteins, edamame supplies all nine essential amino acids your body needs to function. A ½ cup serving of this soybean snack contains 11 grams of protein. Recipe from Pumps and Iron.


  • 1 package frozen shelled edamame
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread edamame on a paper towel and let thaw on the countertop.

Combine the parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Add the edamame to another bowl, then toss with the olive oil. Add the cheese mixture to the edamame and toss to coat.

Spread edamame in a single layer on a baking pan and bake for 15 minutes, until the cheese is crispy.

4. Mexican Cottage Cheese Dip


Jalapeno peppers | Source: iStock

Low in calories and high in protein (a 4-ounce serving contains 13 grams), cottage cheese has long been a favorite food of dieters. But you don’t have to settle for plain and boring cottage cheese. This recipe from Kim’s Cravings spices up the snack-time staple with jalapeño and sriracha for a dip you won’t be able to get enough of.


  • 1 (16-ounce) container low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 large ripe avocado
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 2 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 4 green onions, finely diced
  • 2 teaspoons sriracha sauce (or other hot sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • Salt to taste

Directions: Combine avocado and cottage cheese in a food processor until smooth. (If you don’t have a food processor, mash cheese and avocado together in a bowl.)

Transfer cottage cheese to medium bowl. Add all other ingredients and stir to combine. Serve with chips, crackers, or raw cut veggies.

5. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Protein Balls

bags of chocolate chips

Bags of chocolate chips | Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Sneaking bites of raw cookie dough is a time-honored tradition, but you don’t have to feel guilty about indulging in the habit when you make these vegan protein balls, which are also grain-free. Made with a mix of protein powder, nut butter, and almond meal, these bite-size treats will give you the energy you need to power up after a work out. Recipe from Daily Burn.


  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • ½ cup almond or other nut butter
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup dairy-free mini chocolate chips

Directions: Place protein powder and almond meal in a medium-size bowl and mix.

Then, add in nut butter and maple syrup and mix again. At this point the batter should be just like cookie dough.

Finally, add in chocolate chips and mix one last time. Using a tablespoon cookie scoop, scoop out dough into your palms and roll into balls. Repeat.

Follow Megan on Twitter @MeganE_CS

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