On Monday I started this series off with a comment about how there are so many more things to do with protein powder besides making shakes. But, I couldn’t publish this series without serving one up. Trust me, if you’re gonna make a protein shake, you want to learn how to do it right.
Most importantly, you need to pick the right protein powder. If you don’t like your powder, you’re not going to like anything you make with it. I’m not an expert in protein powder by any means, but I’m happy to share with you what kind I use and why I use it.
I decided to make protein powder a part of my diet when I began the New Rules of Lifting for Women program a few years ago. After careful examination of my diet, it seemed like the only way to make sure I was getting at least 30% of my calories from protein and at least 1 gram per pound of body weight (two fairly common, simple guidelines to go by if you’d like to maintain a moderately low-carb diet and enhance a strength-training program.)
So I began checking out a bunch of different protein powders online. I wanted to balance nutrition, taste, and price. Some protein powders are higher in calories than others, and contain a good deal of carbohydrates in addition to protein. I’d guess that these are best for meal replacements, or if you don’t feel like adding anything else to your shake. I wanted a protein powder that contained just protein, so I could have more flexibility in adding ingredients to a protein shake, or adding the powder to other meals and snacks.
With this in mind, Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey popped up as a good choice. It had the nutrition profile I wanted (24 grams of protein, 3 grams of carbs and 1 gram of fat per 120-calorie serving), plenty of good customer reviews on various websites, and it seemed like a great value compared to others. On top of that, it comes in tons of flavors.
I’ve been using ON 100% Whey for about two years now, but I can’t tell you how it compares to other brands. That’s because I haven’t tried any. What can I say? I did my research and made a good choice. It works for me and I’ve been happy with it.
So about those shakes. A good protein powder should make a decent shake on its own, but you can create some seriously good creations depending on what you add to it. I’ve found that cottage cheese is a great mix-in, resulting in a creamier, more frappe-like shake. Not to mention, it’s extra protein. And xantham and guar gums must be heaven-sent. They thicken like nothing else; I have even used them to make protein shakes the texture of soft-serve (in other words, a spoon is required!)
Some of my favorite protein shakes have been inspired by a certain coffee shop’s (extremely high in sugar) frozen coffee beverages. I essentially make the same thing at home, swapping protein for all those carbs. I call them “FraPROccinos.” Clever, huh? And it goes without saying that mine are much cheaper too.
Take this Pumpkin Spice FraPROccino. It’s huge (that’s a venti, or large size cup I “borrowed”) and it has less calories than it’s tall (aka, small) counterpart at said coffee shop. My version is just as tasty too, but a heck of a lot more satisfying thanks to 26 grams of protein. (Tell me – when is the last time 45 grams of sugar filled you up? That’s how much is in the smallest available size. I can’t think of any good reason to justify drinking that much sugar.) Next time you’re tempted, do yourself a favor and order an empty cup instead. Bring it home and fill it up with your own FraPROccino. Then come back and thank me.
Pumpkin Spice FraPROccino
2 cups ice cubes
1 scoop (25) gm Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Gold Standard, Cake Batter, or vanilla flavored protein powder
1/4 cup (60gm) pumpkin puree
2 oz lowfat cottage cheese
8 oz water
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 packet Truvia Natural Sweetener, or other sweetener to taste
5 drops NuNaturals Liquid Vanilla Stevia Drops
1/4 teaspoon each xanthan gum and guar gum*
Combine all ingredients except the the gums in a powerful blender. Process until smooth, then add the gums and blend for about 20 seconds longer.
*If you’re already a protein shake aficionado and you haven’t tried the gums, you’re totally missing out. It thickens like nothing else.
Servings Per Recipe: 1
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat: 2.3 g
Cholesterol: 32.5 mg
Sodium: 369.5 mg
Total Carbs: 12.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.1 g
Protein: 26.2 g
This recipe is linked to the Simply Sugar & Gluten Free Slightly Indulgent Tuesday feature on 11/23. Check out the link for more delicious ideas!