By Dakota Tara Rose
We have all heard of the viral term “Girl Dinner,” coined to encompass the sometimes eclectic combination of beloved foods combined to make a meal. As a college student with an affinity for charcuterie boards, I was head over heels for these delectable snack plates. I could put peanut butter, celery, popcorn and pickles on a single plate and call it a meal! Girl Dinners were a wildly successful addition to my life, as these single-serving snack plates quickly became a staple in my dietary routine.
Naturally, soon after Girl Dinner rose to fame, a new competitor emerged on the internet: Boy Dinner. Boy Dinner was a similar concept as it also combines irregular food items; however, with the term “Boy Dinner” came the inherent need to embody anything and everything “manly” or masculine. Contrary to the comparatively balanced Girl Dinners that included sliced meats, cheeses and veggies, Boy Dinners were more simplistic and often packaged – think protein shakes and frozen pizza; not the kind of snack plate I was interested in.
After a semester of indulging in Girl Dinners, I recognized that despite my fondness for the trend, I was not getting enough nutrients. Luckily for me, I could turn to the internet for consolation. Inevitably tucked into my social media feed, amidst Girl Dinners, travel vlogs and skincare reviews, I came across many Boy Dinner videos of some truly diabolical food combinations. After seeing several of these videos and sifting through plenty of Quest Cookies and CorePower Shakes, I found a pattern that would help solve my nutrition problem and allow me to continue eating Girl Dinner. The secret to getting enough nutrients? Protein.
Every Boy Dinner video I watched included a significant source of protein through meat or something less cooking-heavy like protein chocolate milk. I was shocked. Though I was not ready to convert to the protein dominate Boy Dinner, I could start to integrate more protein into my Girl Dinners. I found it was surprisingly easy!
I sneak protein into Girl Dinner in all sorts of ways. Cottage cheese, which boasts 25 grams of protein in a cup, pairs perfectly with any chip, cracker or vegetable as a vehicle for it. I found high-protein vegetables such as green peas (eight grams of protein per cup) and sweet corn (four grams of protein per cup). I’ve even managed to elevate my yogurt parfaits by using Greek yogurt and a protein-packed granola on top. There are plenty of other ways to include protein in Girl Dinner in delicious and innovative ways; it just takes a quick Google search.
Adding more protein to your diet has a plethora of benefits. Unity Point Health says increased protein aids in improved brain efficiency as protein is used in neurotransmitter production. Additionally, according to the National Library of Medicine, elevated protein intake promotes weight loss by boosting the metabolism and assisting in maintaining lean body mass while losing weight overall.
Incorporating more protein into Girl Dinner is a way to take a fun and easy concept and make it work for you. I can eat Girl Dinner as often as I please (or as college demands) and still trust I am getting the nutrition I need and my brain and body are reaping the benefits from it!