by Matt Weik
PROTEIN! Who doesn’t want more protein in their diet? Sure, we all love our chicken, steak, eggs and such, but then how do you increase one of our favorite muscle building macronutrients? Many look at protein powders—most of which are in the form of protein shakes. While many people use shakes for post workout recovery, there are many other uses for the powder.
There are so many ways to use protein powders that some of the ways are in my opinion “duh” uses that sometimes get overlooked. It goes along with the saying, “why didn’t I think of that?” Below are some of my favorite ways to use protein powder other than in a protein shake. We all have different personal tastes, so you may have to play with how much powder you add to each to suit your taste buds.
Who doesn’t like to drink coffee in the morning? Many people hit up Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks and order their java just how they like it and then they’re off to work. Some of those people are loading up their coffee with unnecessary calories and sugars. If you don’t like the taste of black coffee what do you do? Add a sweetener of some sort, some milk, cream, or flavored creamer. What if you could add something that changed the flavor of your coffee as well as gave you some protein first thing in the morning? Simply throw in some protein powder and you’re off to a great start in the morning. I’d recommend a flavor that would complement the coffee. I wouldn’t throw in a strawberry or banana protein powder, rather, use a French vanilla flavor or something similar. Depending on how much liquid you use, you will want to add more powder as well to suit your taste.
Not a coffee fan? Or maybe you just like to change it up every now and again once the weather turns cold and you feel like staring out at the snow falling on a cold winter day with a nice cup of hot chocolate? Sure, go for it. But if you wanted to try something that wasn’t slammed with all those sugars from the packets of hot chocolate you’re trying to stay away from, then make your own. All you need is a chocolate protein powder. By warming up a mug of water or almond milk, you can then dump your chocolate protein powder into the warmed beverage. From there you can add things like vanilla extract or your favorite sweetener of choice like Stevia. Mix it all up with a spoon and you’re good to go.
Just like with your morning coffee, oatmeal is a great place to add some protein powder. Simply make your oatmeal as you normally would and once it’s finished being prepared, throw some protein powder on top and mix it up. Unlike above, if you wanted to add a fruit flavored powder it can spruce up the flavor of your oatmeal if it isn’t one of the packaged flavored versions. If you already have the flavor you want in your oatmeal through the flavor itself or by adding nuts or a sweetener, you can add a vanilla protein powder which wouldn’t overpower the other flavors in the oatmeal. Again, you can get creative with your oatmeal depending on what flavor of protein powder you have laying around.
Homemade protein bars
With so many protein bars on the market that are full of junk, many people are deciding to make their own. With a few simple ingredients, one of which is protein powder, you can make a tasty protein-packed treat. There are tons of homemade protein bar recipes floating around the internet so find one that suits your needs since everyone has their own likes and dislikes in terms of ingredients (natural/organic/kosher/vegan/etc.). Most of the bar recipes will have anywhere between 5g and 20g per bar depending on what recipe you go with. Of course you can always cut the bars into smaller pieces if you wanted less protein or cut larger pieces if you wanted more protein. It’s totally personal preference but this is a great way to save money and have some control over your protein bar choices versus buying one from a retailer and having the macros not really fit your individual needs.
Greek yogurt seems to be the current craze and with Dannon’s release of their Oikos Triple Zero yogurt, they are engaging more men than ever before due to the packaging and protein callout on the label. While grabbing a cup of yogurt is definitely healthy, many people are looking for something with a little higher protein content. While Dannon Oikos Triple Zero is around 15g and is good for many, some people simply want more protein. Simple fix is to add protein powder. If you’d like to save money you can purchase a large container of plain Greek yogurt and add your favorite protein powder to it. If you’re in the mood for chocolate, you can simply add chocolate protein powder. Maybe in the mood for something fruity? Add a strawberry flavored powder or whichever flavor you prefer. Doing this not only saves money and increases your protein intake, but it also limits the amount of sugars you’re taking in by not going with a yogurt that has fruit in them or artificial flavors.
For those of you who have been in the industry for some time know about “sludge”. It’s where you mix protein powder with small amounts of water in order to form a “paste-like” consistency similar to that of pudding. This comes down to trial and error with how much water you add based off of your personal preferences. The flavor you choose is also personal preference. Many enjoy flavors such as vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and banana. Those who are using this mixture as protein pudding might even want to include Fat Free Cool Whip on top for added flavor and texture. This makes for an amazing dessert and treat packed with quality protein.
You could also make a peanut butter flavor by adding a powdered peanut butter to vanilla protein powder or by adding it to chocolate protein powder to make a chocolate peanut butter mixture. You can then take the pudding mixture created to suit your tastes and dip your favorite fruit into as a tasty and healthy treat in the form of a dip. This opens up many possibilities in terms of getting more protein in your diet all while snacking on what seems like items you once considered “off-limits”.
Looking for a cold treat on a hot summer night? Or maybe you’re just craving ice cream? You have three choices: fight the urge and not eat anything, get a bowl of real ice cream, or make your own healthy ice cream substitute. You can make healthy ice cream with two simple ingredients. Take a large container of Greet yogurt (which if you are using the above option, you already have sitting in your fridge) and dump it into a large square container (preferably something like Tupperware). Mix in some of your favorite protein powder (whatever flavor you are in the mood for) and stir it up, mixing it all together. Once everything is mixed throw it in the freezer for an hour. After an hour pull it out of the freezer and churn it. Try to break up any protein clumps you find. Then, throw it back in the freezer for an additional thirty minutes. Check the consistency of your ice cream after the thirty minutes and see how it’s looking. If you find it’s not quite to your liking, then simply churn the mixture again and put it back in the freezer. Repeat that process until your healthy protein ice cream is the consistency you desire.
This healthy ice cream can be any flavor you desire. Unlike many of the options found in this article, this protein ice cream can be “unique”. Want a chocolate mint flavored ice cream? Go purchase that flavor protein powder. Maybe you’re in the mood for coffee flavored ice cream? Grab that flavor of protein powder. The sky is the limit with flavors you can turn into a delicious protein ice cream.
Protein pancakes are nothing new, really. But it’s something that I think many forget about. Sure you have brands who have their own protein pancake mix, but you can just as easily add protein powder to your favorite pancake batter (or make it from scratch). Who doesn’t love nice fluffy pancakes with a side of coffee (such as the protein coffee mentioned in this article) for breakfast? Heck, you can even combine the pancakes and coffee with some of the oatmeal mentioned earlier in this article or what is going to be covered following this option. But make sure you don’t use a ton of powder as if you have half of your batter being protein powder the outcome will be dry and rubbery pancakes.
If you were to take your favorite cereal (such as Lucky Charms, or a healthier Kashi option), pour it into a bowl and add milk you are left with mostly the carbohydrates and sugars from the cereal (or minimal protein if you have the Kashi cereal that contains protein). In order to increase your protein intake, you could simply dump some vanilla protein powder into the bowl and mix it up. When all of your cereal is gone, you can drink the milk which more than likely is hiding all of the protein powder you dumped into the bowl. If you were eating a chocolaty cereal, you can add in chocolate protein powder rather than vanilla and make it extra chocolaty. Fruity Pebbles? Maybe you can add a strawberry flavored protein powder? You just need to think outside of the box with some of the more unique cereals. But for the most part vanilla or chocolate protein powder should suit your needs just fine.
Protein powders really aren’t fans of heat. For that reason, try and add protein powder into your baked goods that call for a temperature around 325 degrees or less. Also, make sure you don’t use a ton of protein powder in the recipe. For example, if you have half of your batter being comprised of protein powder you will end up with some dry and rubbery baked goods—forcing you to find the nearest trash can to dispose of the disaster. The same thing could happen with the pancakes mentioned earlier. So use it sparingly rather than trying to make each serving of baked good equaling 20+ grams of protein. Remember, you’re using this to add protein to a product, not necessarily making the protein content the main focus.