If you think the only way to use protein powder is to dump it in a shake, you’re missing out. These popular nutritional supplements are surprisingly versatile in the kitchen. You can pump up pretty much any meal by adding a scoop or two of pure protein. It’s a quick and easy way to get even more of this muscle-building nutrient in your daily diet.
Here are five recipes for turning breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert into protein powerhouses.
1. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oat Protein Muffins
A scoop of protein powder plus some Greek yogurt make one of these tasty muffins more filling than the kind you’d grab at the coffee shop. Treat yourself to one after your morning workout or chow down to get the energy you need for that sunrise hike. Recipe from Ambitious Kitchen.
- 1⅔ cups oat bran
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (about ⅓ cup)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1¼ teaspoons cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon cloves
- ⅔ cup canned pumpkin purée
- ½ cup applesauce
- ½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1½ tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 egg whites
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup mini or regular chocolate chips
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Whisk together the oat bran, protein powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in a medium bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the pumpkin, applesauce, Greek yogurt, egg whites, maple syrup, and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Let batter sit and thicken for 2 minute.
Pour batter into 12 muffin cups and bake for 18 to 23 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Remove muffins from pan and continue to cool on the wire rack. Serve immediately or freeze for later.
2. Protein Hummus and Grilled Vegetable Wrap
Hummus is already packed with protein, but you can make it even more powerful by adding some protein powder. Then, combine your tasty spread with some grilled vegetables for a healthy and energizing lunch. (Hummus recipe from Pepper Scraps; wrap recipe from Food Network.)
- 1 can chickpeas
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 3 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 scoop plain protein powder
- 2 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into ¼-inch slices
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- Pinch freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup hummus
- 4 pieces whole-wheat wrap bread (about 9 inches in diameter)
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
- 1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 2 ounces baby spinach leaves (2 cups lightly packed)
- ½ cup red onion thinly sliced into half moons
- ¼ cup fresh mint leaves
Ingredients: To make the hummus, drain the chickpeas, reserving the liquid. Add the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, salt, paprika, and cumin to the bowl of a food processor.
Pulse until everything is combined, adding a little of the reserved chickpea liquid if the mixture is too thick. Add the protein powder and pulse until combined with the hummus.
To make the wraps, preheat a grill or grill over medium heat. Brush the zucchini slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill for about 4 minutes on each side, until brown and tender.
Spread ¼ cup of hummus on each wrap. Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of pine nuts and top with 3 slices of zucchini, 2 slices of red pepper, ½ cup of spinach, some sliced red onion, and 1 tablespoon fresh mint. Roll up, cut on the diagonal, and serve.
3. Protein-Packed Deep-Dish Pizza
High-calorie and carb-rich pizza may be on your forbidden foods list if you’re trying to eat healthy and build muscle. But you don’t have to say no to a slice of this deep-dish version, which has a healthier crust made from a mix of protein powder, almond milk, and coconut and buckwheat flour. The filling has more protein-heavy ground beef than fatty cheese, so you can eat dinner without guilt. Recipe from Bodybuilding.com.
- ½ cup unflavored pea protein powder
- ½ cup liquid egg whites
- ⅛ cup buckwheat flour
- ½ cup almond milk
- 1 tablespoon coconut flour
- 1 small chopped onion
- 2 chopped garlic cloves
- 2 cans tomatoes
- ½ cup grated cheddar cheese or mozzarella
- 1 cup ground beef
- 1 tablespoon rosemary
- 1 tablespoon thyme
- Salt to taste
Directions: To make the crust, preheat oven to 320 degrees Fahrenheit. Blend all of the ingredients together until you get a thick batter. Using a spoon, spread the batter onto a deep-dish pizza pan or other deep and round nonstick pan. (Depending on how large your pans are, you may need to use more than one.) Bake for about 15 minutes or until the crust has cooked through.
To prepare the toppings, pan fry the onions and garlic until soft. Add the beef and cook until no longer pink. Then, add the tomatoes and spices and cook for another 30 minutes over low heat until the mixture has thickened.
Spoon the filling into the prepared pizza crust and sprinkle grated cheese over top. Bake at 320 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes or until the cheese on top has melted. Top with additional cheese if desired.
4. Protein Brownies
You don’t have to skip dessert when these protein-rich brownies are on the menu. Chocolate protein powder and peanut or almond butter add rich flavor to these dense, fudge-like bars, which are made without flour. Recipe from Run Eat Repeat.
- ¾ cup chocolate protein powder
- ¼ cup stevia or ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup almond or peanut butter
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg plus ⅓ cup egg whites
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ to ¾ cup almond milk
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8-by-8-inch baking pan.
Warm almond or peanut butter for about 30 seconds in the microwave. Add to a bowl with the stevia or sugar and mix thoroughly. (You may want to use a little more or less sugar or stevia depending on the sweetness of your protein powder.) Stir in eggs, vanilla, and ½ cup almond milk.
In another bowl, mix together the protein powder, baking soda, and salt. Combine with the wet ingredients. If your batter is too thick, add up to another ¼ cup of almond milk. The protein powder will absorb some of the moisture, so you want the batter to be a little runny to avoid too-dry brownies.
Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake for 26 minutes. Let cool, cut, and serve.
5. Hot Chocolate with Peanut Butter Whipped Cream
Curl up with a cup of this steaming hot chocolate. This take on everyone’s favorite hot beverage calls for almond milk rather than dairy milk and is topped with a rich peanut-flavored whipped cream that’s actually made from coconut milk. Recipe from Keepin’ It Kind.
Peanut butter whipped cream
- 1 can of full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight (or at least 1 hour)
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter
- 1 to 2 packets of stevia or 1 teaspoon of other sweetener (optional)
- About 1 cup almond milk (adjust for the size of your mug)
- ½ scoop plain protein powder
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (or cacao powder if you want a stronger chocolate flavor)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons agave syrup or coconut nectar
- Chocolate bar or chips for melting
Directions: About 30 to 45 minutes before you want to make the hot chocolate, chill a mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer.
Once the bowl and beaters have chilled, open the can of coconut milk and scoop out the solids. (Save the coconut water for later, if you like.) Combine the coconut with the peanut butter and sweetener in the bowl and beat at a high speed until the mixture turns thick and creamy (it should form stiff peaks when you remove the beaters from the bowl). Place whipped cream in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Heat a small pot of water to boiling on the stove. Place a glass bowl over the pot and melt the chocolate. (Or use a double-boiler if you have one.) Remove melted chocolate from heat and set aside.
To make the hot chocolate, mix the almond milk, protein powder, cocoa powder, and agave syrup using a blender. Pour into a small pot and warm over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture barely begins to simmer. Pour into a mug, top with the whipped cream, and drizzle on the melted chocolate. Serve.
Follow Megan on Twitter @MeganE_CS