by Matt Weik
We have all used protein powder – right? And more than likely, it’s been in the form of a protein shake. Unfortunately, protein shakes can be extremely boring if used all the time. Sure, you could purchase a new brand or a different flavor, but sometimes we are just in the mood to actually chew something rather than drink it, but we don’t have time to make a full real food meal. Here are some great non-shake ways to use protein powder.
1. Coffee creamer
Who doesn’t drink coffee in the morning (or all day like me)? Those creamers at the store or from Starbucks are pretty much full of junk and adding plain sugar to your coffee we already know is a no-no. So, what do you do? You add protein powder. That’s what you do. There are many different flavors you can use in your coffee to replace your sugary and fattening creamers. Some of my favorites protein powder flavors to add in my coffee are chocolate, French vanilla, hazelnut, and of course, coffee flavored. Simply add as much or as little per your taste and you have yourself a delicious protein-packed cup of energizing coffee.
2. Baked goods
I left this one pretty generic as you can add protein powder to just about any of your baking recipes. You can toss protein powder in cookies, brownies, muffins, cakes, whatever you want. You obviously would want to pick a flavor that compliments what you are making. For instance, you wouldn’t want to make chocolate chip cookies and put a strawberry powder in – well, I guess you could if you really wanted to. But using the same example, it would make more sense to use vanilla to go with the cookie itself or chocolate to compliment the chocolate chips. In most instances, you can’t go wrong with vanilla unless what you are making is something completely chocolate like brownies.
After you eat your cereal, you’re left with some milk in your bowl. Why not make it “super milk” and pour in some protein powder? Not only can the protein powder add more flavor to your cereal, but you’ll get the added benefits of taking in protein with all of those carbs. Try to match the flavor of your protein powder with the type of cereal you are eating. After you pour yourself a bowl of cereal, sprinkle some of the protein powder on top of the cereal, and then add your milk (or milk substitute such as SILK). Then after you eat all of your cereal, you’re left with basically a protein shake to finish it off.
Yogurt makes for a great snack, and if you don’t have any nuts on hand to put in your yogurt, the next best thing would be protein powder. Try to match the flavor of your protein powder to your yogurt, or at least make it complimentary. So, if it’s a strawberry yogurt, add some strawberry protein powder. Or, if you want to change things up, you can toss in some chocolate to make it more like a chocolate covered strawberry flavor instead. Use your imagination, but don’t go too crazy.
5. Hot chocolate
If you aren’t a coffee drinker, but you enjoy some hot chocolate on a chilly day (and maybe a few mini marshmallows), you could improve the macros by dumping in a little chocolate protein powder. Make sure to stir everything up extremely well or you will be left with some potential lumps – and they aren’t going to be delicious marshmallows either.
Taking a page out of Bill Cosby’s book, there’s always room for Jell-O pudding. But the macros on it aren’t exactly ideal to produce those gains. No worries, if you are a kid at heart and love your pudding, all you need to do is add some protein powder to your mixture. If you are making the pudding from scratch, add the protein powder with the rest of the ingredients. If you purchased the pre-packaged variety, simply pour in some powder and stir it up until you’ve added your desired amount of protein. Again, be sure to match the protein powder flavor to the pudding or you’re going to be left with a bad taste in your mouth – sappy pun intended.
Or better yet, you can make your own “protein pudding” if you’d like. It’s so simple that it’s nearly impossible to mess it up. Some people call this version of protein pudding, “sludge.” All you do is dump your protein powder in a bowl and slowly add water while stirring the mixture until you’re left with a pudding-like consistency. If you add too much water, simply add in a little bit more protein powder and you can fix your mistake. If you don’t add enough water, you’re going to be left with areas of powder that haven’t mixed in well and will leave your literally chewing on unmixed protein powder.
Sure, there are protein pancake mixes already out on the market, but the price on them is generally jacked up because you’re paying for convenience. A simple fix would be to make your own protein pancakes. Simply add in your protein powder of choice to the batter before putting it on the griddle and you’re good to go. I’d personally recommend using vanilla protein powder for your protein pancakes as that flavor seems to blend in best with the taste of the pancakes or if you can find an unflavored version that would work well too.
8. Homemade protein bars
If you are feeling creative, you could always make your own protein bars at home. It’s actually quite simple. Generally, you’re going to need protein powder, oats, honey, and natural peanut butter. The recipes found online are extremely easy and don’t even require you to turn the oven on (no-bake protein bars).
Using the ingredients above, you’ll get bars that are under 600 calories (give or take), 30 grams of protein, just shy of 40 grams of carbohydrates, and around 30 grams of fat. The no-bake bars do seem to be a little on the dry side, but in my opinion, they still taste way better than most of the protein bars out on the market today – and the fact that you can make them (per serving) much cheaper than the already made version you can buy on store shelves and online makes them taste that much better. Mind you, this is more of a meal replacement bar due to the total amount of calories. The good news is, you could always cut the bars in half to get them around a normal protein bar macro range if you didn’t want something so high in calories as a snack.
Sometimes oatmeal can get a little boring. And if you’re like me, you are constantly looking to add protein to anything and everything you eat. For me, I take some vanilla protein powder, or a fruit-flavor such as strawberry or banana and toss it into my oatmeal after it comes from the microwave. Now, I’m not talking about the Quaker Oatmeal that is already flavored like the apple cinnamon or something like that which is loaded with sugars. The oatmeal I’m talking about is the plain quick oats like the Quaker Quick Oats that only take around a minute in the microwave.
In addition to adding the protein powder, I normally add some walnuts, a touch of honey, and some Splenda to sweeten things up a little. Rather than getting minimal protein from the nuts, the protein powder completely changes the macros of this healthy breakfast option.