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Protein is necessary for the growth, maintenance and repair of all body tissues. Protein also helps protect your body against infection, especially during cancer treatment. It is very important that you eat and/or drink enough protein during cancer treatment (radiation, chemotherapy, bone marrow transplant, and surgery) because your body’s protein needs are higher than normal during this time. The foods listed below will help you keep track of your daily protein intake.

Eggs: Add chopped, hard-cooked eggs to salads and dressings, sandwich spreads, vegetables, casseroles and creamed meats. Beat eggs into sauces, mashed potatoes and other vegetables. Add extra eggs to quiche, custards, French toast, and pancake batter. All eggs should be cooked well.

1 medium egg = 80 calories and 7 grams protein

Egg substitutes: Egg substitutes can be used instead of eggs and can be used as suggested above. They can also be added to milk shakes to increase protein. They are safe to eat uncooked due to pasteurization.

¼ cup egg substitute = 55 calories and 8 grams protein

Cheese: Melt on sandwiches, meats, fish, vegetables, eggs, and fruit desserts, especially pies. Grate into sauces, soups, casseroles, vegetables, pasta, rice, potatoes, and meatloaf.

1 ounce cheese = 100 calories and 7 grams protein

Milk: Substitute milk for all or a part of water used to cook cereals, soups, or potatoes. Use regular milk to replace water in cocoa, pudding, and soup mixes.

8 ounces whole milk (skim to whole fat) = 90 to 150 calories and 8 grams protein

11 ounces Muscle Milk® = 130 to 140 calories and 20 grams protein

8 ounces soy milk = 130 calories and 8 grams protein

Skim milk powder: Make fortified or double strength milk by mixing 1 quart of regular milk with 1 cup skim milk powder. Use the fortified milk for drinking, or for preparing hot or cold cereals, scrambled eggs, gravies, sauces, casserole dishes, milk shakes, custards, puddings and other desserts.

¼ cup skim milk powder =110 calories and 11 grams protein

Cottage cheese: Use to stuff fruits and raw vegetables. Mix with vegetables, egg dishes like omelets or quiche, casseroles, rice or pasta. Use in gelatin, pudding desserts, or cheesecake. Use for stuffing crêpes and pasta. Add to waffle or muffin batter.

1 cup low fat cottage cheese = 200 calories and 30 grams protein

Ice cream: Add extra ice cream to sodas and milkshakes. Use to top cereals, pies, cakes, gelatin, fruit and other desserts. Blend into fruit smoothies. Make ice cream sandwiches with cookies, graham crackers or cake slices.  

1 cup low fat ice cream = 150 calories and 5 grams protein

1 cup rich regular ice cream = 270 calories and 5 grams protein

Yogurt: Add to fruits and desserts. Use to top cereal, pancakes, and waffles. Use as a dip for vegetables and snacks. Add to milk, beverages and gelatin desserts. Use as a sauce for vegetables and baked potatoes.

  8 ounces plain whole milk yogurt = 140 calories and 8 grams protein

  8 ounces soy yogurt (Stonyfield O’Soy® whole fat) = 247 calories and 9 grams protein

  8 ounces Greek yogurt = 80 to 130 calories and 10 to 17 grams protein (read nutrition labels)

Beef, pork, poultry or fish: Add chopped, flaked or pureed meat to vegetables, salads, soups, casseroles, baked potatoes, and quick bread batters. Use in sauces, omelets, soufflés, quiche, sandwich fillings, chicken or turkey stuffing. Make into turnovers with pie crust or biscuit dough.

1 ounce cooked meat = 75 calories and 7 grams protein

Peanut butter or nut spreads: Spread on sandwiches, toast, muffins, crackers, raw fruit and vegetables, waffles and pancakes. Use as flavoring for cream soups, sauces, cookies and other baked products, milk drinks, dips for vegetables. Swirl into ice cream or yogurt.

2 Tablespoons smooth peanut butter = 190 calories and 9 grams protein

Nuts: Nuts can be served as snacks. Add chopped or ground nuts to cookies and other baked products, pudding, Jell-O® and other desserts. Use in salads, ice cream, yogurt and sandwiches. Roll a banana in chopped nuts or top a cake or casserole with them.

1 ounce dry roasted nuts = 160 to 180 calories and 7 grams protein

Tofu: Tofu, or soybean curd, can be added to soups, stir fry’s, vegetable dishes and casseroles.

½ cup tofu = 95 calories and 10 grams protein

Cooked legumes/beans: Add cooked beans, lentils or peas to soups, casseroles, salads, or vegetable dishes. 

½ cup cooked legumes/beans = 110 calories and 7 grams protein


  • Boost® and Ensure® products, Bolthouse Farms Protein Plus®, and Naked Protein Zone® drinks are high in calories and protein. Read the nutrition label.
  • Quinoa or Farro, 1 cup cooked = 222 calories and 8 grams protein
  • Almond milk, rice milk, and coconut milk contain 1 gram or less of protein for every 8 ounces. Read the nutrition labels.

Content provided by Nutrition Department. Produced by ERAS Program and Patient Education Department. Reviewed by Patient & Family Advisors.