Anyone that's added protein to their daily diet knows the feeling. Once you inch closer to the bottom of that tub, you begin to experience some burnout from consuming shake after shake. It gets dull quickly, testing your resolve to keep using the muscle-boosting concoction and potentially leaving you with a heaping pile of supplements you have no idea what to do with.
It doesn't have to be this way.
While protein shakes themselves can be enhanced with milk, fruits, oats and other additions, there are plenty more recipes that can utilize these powders for both flavor and nutritional gain. Below are a handful of healthy options to help you clear some space across your countertop while still reaping the benefits protein supplements have to offer. Whether making a hearty breakfast, mixing up your grandma's fabled cookie recipe or boosting your go-to dinner, there's plenty of room for some protein in your diet.
A well-mixed protein shake can be a pleasant start to any day, especially when combined with a dash of oats and your favorite fruit — I routinely opt for a chocolate whey, oats, bananas and oat milk smoothie in the AM. While a common shake is simple and easy, there's even more opportunity to inject protein powder into some of the morning's most delicious offerings.
Pancakes can be a rich way to begin your morning, but the traditional mile-high stack doesn't carry a ton of nutritional value. To beef up your breakfast, try mixing in some oats, Greek yogurt and protein powder to the batter, forgoing the flour for a heartier, more nutritious backbone. When cooking these delectable treats, though, aim to make smaller pancakes, as the batter won't be as viscous as traditional mix. Also, protein powder has an intense drying effect when cooked, so make sure to include the Greek yogurt to ensure each bite is more scrumptious than sandy.
Here's my favorite recipe for protein pancakes.
For the waffle enthusiasts out there, there's also plenty of recipes that call for muscle-boosting protein in place of flour as well. Much like the above pancakes, modifying the recipe is as simple as swapping the flour for protein powder and Greek yogurt or cottage cheese. The beauty of protein pancakes and waffles, too, is that the flavorings are only as limited as your imagination. Chocolate and vanilla protein powders are aplenty, but you can't say a cinnamon or coffee-noted waffle doesn't sound enticing, especially if you're trying to conjure up recipes to clear off your countertop.
Here's my favorite recipe for protein waffles.
Protein Fruit Bowls
Okay, so maybe you aren't into the fluffy stuff and more so opt for a nutrient-rich bowl of fruit in the morning. Well, these bowls can also be enhanced with protein powder. While it can be as simple as sprinkling your cantelope or strawberries with an unflavored powder, there are also a number of smoothie bowl recipes that incorporate protein supplements to deliver a more balanced meal to your breakfast regimen. Add a scoop of protein powder — and a spoonful of peanut butter for added fats and richness — to your normal morning smoothie and smile as you enjoy your plate with an added boost of flex-worthy performance.
Here's my favorite recipe for protein smoothie bowls.
Baking with protein powder is also a great way to use up unwanted supplements, but this cooking method does require a little more attention. Just remember: cooked protein can easily dry out your finished products, so its best to supplement the already present flour with just a handful of protein powder, rather than replacing it altogether. A good rule of thumb, if you're looking to modify existing recipes, is to use 1/3 of a cup of protein powders for every 1 cup of flour.
Give your guilty pleasure snack a bit of a boost by adding some protein to the mixture. This simple addition can turn those sugary, less-than-beneficial snacks into a healthier alternative ideal for in-between meals. Plus, there's plenty of recipes out there to experiment with, so you're more capable of finding the perfect mix to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Here's my favorite recipe for protein cookies.
Rich and chewy, it's hard to pass on a well-baked brownie. Yet, these delicious sweets don't rank highly when it comes to nutritional value. While adding protein powder to your brownie batter won't immediately turn this treat into a healthy option, it can at least alleviate some of the guilt by adding a decent dose of macronutrients.
Here's my favorite recipe for protein brownies.
Think of your favorite donut holes and add a bit of muscle-generating goodness to the bunch. These simple baked delights can be powerhouse snacks for those wanting a sugar rush, all while still delivering hearty macros and other nutrients to your physique. You can customize each offering with inclusions such as oats, chia seeds, chocolate chips and other ingredients. Plus, there are even "no bake" options out there for athletes less versed in the science and skill of baking.
Here's my favorite recipe for protein balls.
Dinner probably isn't the first meal you think of in terms of using protein powder. After all, these meals are more savory than sweet, and with so many protein offerings basing their flavors around sugary tastes like chocolate, vanilla and cinnamon, it can be difficult to find recipes where this supplement fits in properly. Thankfully, however, unflavored protein powders exist, and adding them to a handful of dishes can help you reach any macronutrient goal in no time.
I'll admit, this is kind of an oxymoron. Of course, when preparing burgers for dinner, you're expecting to get a decent dose of protein per plate, regardless of your meat source. However, unflavored protein powder can be a great binding agent to add to your ground meat or other base, giving each patty a little uptick in macro value. If you're struggling to hit your daily nutritional goals yet don't want to scarf down another shake, consider this quick alternative and pump up this iconic slice of Americana.
Protein Mashed Potatoes
Potatoes can serve as a viable source of key vitamins, antioxidants and fiber, but they aren't as protein-dense as other side dishes or main courses. To help balance out your dinner plate, consider mixing in a scoop of unflavored protein powder to your mashed potatoes for a unique yet delicious way to hit your daily marks. If anything, adding protein powder can help offset all the heavy butter and cream in typical recipes, leaving you feeling better about the mound of carbohydrates you ladled onto you platter this holiday.
When it comes to "cheat meals" on your daily schedule, dessert is most likely where you're bound to let your diet dwindle, and that's okay. There's plenty of mental benefits and healthiness in satisfying your sweet tooth in moderation. Although, if you want to pump up your normal nighttime treats with protein powder, there are a few ways to go about it — outside of making a casein protein milkshake.
Yogurt and protein are perfect companions to one another, as seen in some of the above recipes. So, it makes sense that a parfait filled with your favorite dairy-based treat, nuts, berries and more can only be enhanced with a dash or two of your favorite protein supplement. Play around with flavors and find the ideal matchup for your tastebuds.
Protein Ice Cream
Ice cream on its own might not be the healthiest option (what dessert is?) but there are options out there that provide a little more nutritional backbone than your average pint. While store-bought "protein" ice creams exist, you can also make this sweet treat at home with just a few ingredients. This can help catching up on your favorite Netflix series more rewarding and worthwhile, all while using up those last few scoops of protein in the process.