Used to be protein powders were considered food only for fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders. No more. Store shelves these days are crowded with protein powders of all types—among them you’ll find plant-based, raw, whey, soy, and even beef. Flavors are far from boring—Espresso, Salted Caramel, or Cookie Dough, anyone? They’re super-convenient, versatile, tasty, and nutritious. Mixing up a scoop in a shake makes a satisfying breakfast on the go for busy career types and provides steady energy. Vegetarians can ensure they’re getting enough protein lacking in other foods with a scoop or two. And yes, bodybuilders can easily add this cost-effective protein source to any food or drink. In fact, protein powders have become so popular we’ve gotten really creative with ways to enjoy them. Recipes abound in cookbooks and on Internet blogs. Here are some of our faves for fall.
- Vegan Pumpkin Smoothie
- Sunwarrior “Rice Crispy Treats”
- Naturade VeganSmart Banana Muffins
- Garden of Life “Grab n’ Go Bites”
Tips and Tricks
What NOT to do when cooking with protein powders By Anna Sward
Don’t Substitute Pea Protein Powder with Whey or Casein Protein Powders
Not in any recipe. They have totally different textures, tastes, and consistencies. For more do’s and don’ts regarding substitutions, see my Protein Powder Substitution chart at proteinpow.com.
Don’t Use Too Much Protein Powder
Never bake a batter comprised of primarily protein powder—this is particularly the case when making pancakes or protein muffins/cakes. If your batter is over half protein powder, your food will turn out dry and rubbery, especially if the powder you’re using is whey or casein.
Don’t Forget to “Moisturize”
You’ll need moisturizer when you’re cooking vegetable protein powders (like pea, rice, and hemp powders), as well as whey and casein powders, or your food will come out dry and rubbery. My favorite moisturizers: bananas, Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, quark (a cheese with a consistency similar to Greek yogurt), cooked sweet potatoes, pumpkin purée, applesauce, and cooked beets.
Don’t Forget the Fat in Cookies
If you’re baking protein cookies, you must use fat. This can be coconut oil, nut butter, actual butter, or even lard if you want to go “paleo” on your cookies. Personally, I like using either coconut oil, nut butter, or a combination of the two. If you don’t use a fat, your cookies will end up more like “cookie-breads” and they’ll never be crunchy. They won’t even be soft. They’ll just be like … thick cardboard. Mmmm, right? No.
Don’t Leave Egg Protein Powders Unconstituted
When cooking with egg protein powder, remember that you have to “reconstitute” it. That means adding enough liquid to it to turn it into liquid egg whites. If you don’t, whatever you’re making will end up like a weirdly rubbery and salty “thing” that’ll leave you with a sad face and nothing else.
Don’t Forget to Enjoy Yourself and Have Fun!
Consider my approach to protein powder cooking in general:
- Don’t be overly rigid or scared about experimenting with your powders, ingredients, and flavors.
- Throw your hat into the air.
- Turn up some music.
- Sing or whistle while you bake.
- Sample your batters.
- Listen to your taste buds.
- Draw outside the lines and think outside the shake!
—Excerpted from The Ultimate Protein (Pow)der Cookbook by Anna Sward