If I had a quarter for every time someone asked me, “So you’re a vegetarian – how do you get your protein?” – I’d be a blogging from the South of France. :) To answer that question, first off I think that people generally tend to grossly overestimate how much protein they really need in one day, since the body can only absorb so much at one time. But we also eat a lot of tofu, beans, lentils, and vegetables – yes, vegetables have protein too! The other main source of our protein? SMOOTHIES!
But navigating the protein powder aisle can be both confusing and scary – those tubs are expensive! We’ve spent the past few years trying a lot of different protein powders – whey, rice, soy, Amazing Grass, Vega, and more. Casey finally came up with the idea that – based on the ingredient lists of a few other protein mixes – we could simply make our own for a fraction of the price by ordering the basic components ourselves.
Using the Thrive diet, a plant-based way of eating formulated specifically for athletes, we found that there were a few “superfoods” that aren’t typically found in everyday foods, but that we wanted to incorporate into our eating. Things like chlorella, maca, and spirulina – I could go on and on about the health benefits of these superfoods, but for this post I will try to keep it to a minimum.
We ordered products online, experimented with various combinations, and ultimately came up with our own super nutritious, and far less expensive protein mix that we now use every day. Here we go!
Understanding the Ingredients
- 2 cups hemp protein powder
- 1 cup PB2 powder
- 1 cup ground flax
- 1/3 cup maca powder
- 2 tbsp + 2 tsp chlorella powder
- 4 tsp spirulina
- 4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp (concentrated) stevia
Here’s a quick look at the ingredients, one by one. We’ve already talked about this one…
If you’re a long-time reader of my blog, you know that I am a recovering peanut butter addict, and therefore swear by PB2 – powdered peanut butter for a fraction of the calories of the real stuff. While I love it in it’s normal application too, it is especially useful for things like this, which require…powdered peanut butter! It is also another good source of added protein.
Ground flax is an awesome source of omega 3’s for vegetarians, and gives a great nutritional boost to this smoothie mix.
Maca is actually a South American plant, and the derived powder is packed with vitamins, plant sterols, and many essential minerals and amino acids. It is used to help increase stamina and combat fatigue – essential for athletes!
Spirulina is actually a dark green algae (I know!) that is rich in proteins, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids. It is another great addition to a vegetarian diet because it is high in the B complex vitamins, as well as iron and zinc.
Chlorella is another scary looking green powder, but I assure you it is fabulous. Yes it is algae and it smells like yard clippings, but it is also a powerful immune system booster, and greatly beneficial for detoxification and digestion.
We add 1 tsp of concentrated stevia to our mix for a touch of sweetness, but it is entirely optional. Some people don’t like the stevia aftertaste, but it doesn’t bother me at all. You could always just add an extra splash of agave or honey to your final smoothie!
Okay, now we know WHY we’re eating what we’re eating, so let’s move on …
Building the Protein Powder Base
First up, add the flax to the food processor and give it a few pumps.
Flax tends to get clumpy, and you want to make sur
e it’s smooth when the rest of the ingredients are added.
Next, dump all the rest of the ingredients into your food processor.
Remember those candles that were made of layered sand that we all had back in the 90’s? That’s what this reminds me of…
With everything in there, let ‘er rip! You want to make sure everything is well mixed and distributed.
Add the final product to a sealable tub, and BAM – you’ve just created your own superfood protein powder blend! High five!
The serving size for this mix is 1/4 cup, so I just usually leave my measuring cup right in the tub for easy access. This powder recipe will yield a total of 18 quarter-cup servings, so you don’t have to do this very often!
So I Have a Tub of Powder…Now What?
Here comes the fun part – turning this brownish green funky smelling powder into something absolutely delicious. Yes, your food processor is already dirty. Bear with me – get out the blender.
First up – one banana!
Next add about 1 cup of frozen fruit – we chose blueberries, strawberries, and mango, yuuuuuuum.
Add 1/4 cup of your new protein powerhouse blend…
A squirt of agave to sweeten…
Add one half-cup of almond milk and then top off with enough water to cover the ingredients. Time to BLEND!
While the mixture is blending, drop a handful of spinach into the top. Do it.
Ahhhhh sweet nectar.
It seems like a lot of work now, but once you’ve put together the protein mix base, making the smoothie itself is a piece of cake.
I have one of these every single morning with my breakfast! (And no, that is not a breakfast picture – busted!)
At this point you might be asking…
Seems Like a Lot of Work – Is it Really Worth It?
Get ready for me to bust out some hard core nerdiness on you now. Casey is the original math nerd of the family, so he ran some data to see how our home blend stacked up against the big dogs, and if we were really saving ourselves any $$ by making our own.
We picked the two most popular (in our opinion) “Superfood” drink mixes on the market right now, and compared them to our Front Burner Blend. The stats show that our mix is just as nutritious as our mainstream rivals, and a heck of a lot cheaper. See for yourself…
|Vega Sport||Amazing Grass|
1/4 cup serving
Now don’t get me wrong – I love both Vega and Amazing Grass, and I think there is a time and a place for both, especially for their great specialty flavors (chai, anyone?). But for an every day product, we needed something more affordable. When you consider that we each drink one of these smoothies every day, the price savings is HUGE, and the nutrition stats are right in line with these top two brands.
I know that smoothies and green monsters are all the rage in blog-land. I encourage you guys to add a little boost to your spinach and bananas the next time you fire up the blender.