Protein is essential for our bodies. It’s a component of every cell in our body, it helps us build and repair tissues and gives us energy. The foods highest in protein, such as beef, chicken and seafood, often are at the heart of a meal. And that’s where they should be—at the heart of it, not the whole meal. Americans have become used to making a big slab of meat the center of the meal, whereas in many other cultures (think of an Italian meat sauce or a Chinese stir-fry) meat is part of but not the entire plate. Try filling just a quarter of your plate with a protein, such as chicken, fish, tofu, lean beef or pork, a quarter with a whole grain like brown rice or a starch like a potato, and half with vegetables.
In EatingWell recipes we use the USDA recommended 3 ounces of cooked meat per serving. Plus we use lean cuts of beef and pork and show you how to make rich-tasting chicken dishes without the skin (which adds as much as 4 grams of fat).