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10 Surprising Ways to Use Unflavored Protein Powder

Posted by Triple Naturals I On May 07, 2024
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Most of us are familiar with making smoothies, shakes, puddings, and other dessert- (chocolate, vanilla, caramel) or fruit-flavored protein recipes using a quality protein powder. If you pick up an unflavored protein power, though, you can expand your protein horizons in a surprising number of ways. For example, you can add protein powder to savory dishes or even add a scoop or two to some of your favorite stand-by recipes.

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Why Add Protein to Recipes?

Protein, specifically whey protein, is a highly popular supplement among athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and people seeking to boost health or lose (or maintain) weight. It has numerous health benefits, including:

  • As a high-quality source of protein with all nine essential amino acids. Whey is particularly high in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) like leucine, which is crucial for muscle growth and repair. Thus, it’s highly popular for people seeking to build muscle or enhance recovery after workouts.
  • Supporting weight loss and weight management as it helps increase satiety or the feeling of fullness. If you aren’t hungry for longer between meals, it’s easier to reduce overall calorie intake. It also helps maintain muscle mass as you lose weight, which can improve body composition.
  • Boosts metabolism due to the higher thermic effect of protein compared to fats and carbohydrates.
  • Supports a healthy immune system by providing lactoferrin, immunoglobulins, and glycomacropeptides, which are vital nutrients for immune functioning.
  • Convenience and versatility, as it can be added to a wide variety of dishes—from smoothies and shakes to baked goods and breakfast dishes. Protein powers make it easy to increase protein intake.
  • Enhance antioxidant defenses by providing antioxidants like glutathione, which help reduce oxidative stress and support overall health.

10 Surprising Ways to Use Unflavored Proteins

Once you know some of the key benefits of eating a higher-protein diet, it’s easy to see why protein powders are so popular in health and fitness circles. Yet many people stick with just smoothies or smoothie bowls, afraid of how the flavors can impact other dishes. That’s where unflavored whey protein powders come in. They are highly versatile and can easily be incorporated into a wide range of recipes. Here are some healthy ways to incorporate unflavored protein powder into your diet:

  • Smoothies and shakes: Blend the protein powder with fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds to create nutrient-rich smoothies and shakes. Because it’s unflavored, it won’t alter the natural taste of your ingredients, so you can make it sweet or savory. Consider a garden veggie protein smoothie or a spicy tomato and red pepper smoothie for a change of pace.
  • Oatmeal or porridge: Stir a scoop or two into your cooked oatmeal or other hot cereal. The protein powder dissolves easily and increases the protein content without impacting the flavor. Then, top your oatmeal with fresh fruits, nuts, or spices, or make it savory with salsa, cheese, vegetables, and eggs, or tomato and sausage, or sriracha, avocado, and egg.
  • Coffee or tea: A scoop of unflavored whey protein can be stirred into a cup of hot coffee or tea. It adds a creamy texture and increases the protein without altering the flavor.
  • Yogurt or cottage cheese: For a quick high-protein breakfast or snack, stir a scoop of protein powder into a bowl to increase the protein. Then add your choice of fruits, nuts, and perhaps a little honey, maple syrup, or stevia if you want it to taste sweeter. Or add spices like dill, cilantro, or garlic and chives for a savory dip.
  • Soup or sauce thickener: To thicken a sauce or soup with protein, remember to add a small amount (e.g., a teaspoon at a time) gradually and stir in thoroughly. To avoid clumping, it can also help to mix the protein powder with a small amount of cold water or broth and create a slurry before mixing it in with the warm or moderately hot liquid (rather than really hot), so it dissolves smoothly. You’ll also want to wait to add the protein until the end, as high heat can break down the protein or cause it to get lumpy. Continue stirring to integrate it well into your soup or sauce and achieve a smooth consistency. Protein powder can be added to pasta sauce, curry, gravy, dressings, and more.
  • Higher protein muffins, pizza crusts, and savory or sweet bread: Replace a fraction of the regular flour with whey protein powder to increase the protein content in many recipes. Start by replacing only 1/4 to 1/3 of the flour to ensure the final product still has the structure of bread. You may also need to add a little more liquid to the recipe, as protein powder can absorb more moisture than normal flour. In addition, be careful to avoid overmixing the ingredients, which can lead to a tough bread or muffin.
  • In meatballs or loaves: As a substitute for breadcrumbs, oatmeal, or other fillers in meatballs or meatloaf, simply combine your choice of ground meat with eggs and add spices or seasonings. Then, substitute 1/4 to half of the fillers (e.g., breadcrumbs) with the unflavored protein powder. (Experiment with the amount until you find your preferred texture.) Mixing the protein with another filler (e.g., oatmeal) helps maintain the texture and moisture balance. However, you may also need to increase the amount of moisture by adding chopped vegetables or a sauce (e.g., ketchup or BBQ). Once the mixture is combined, form it into balls or a loaf and bake as usual.
  • Dips: Adding unflavored whey protein into dips like hummus or guacamole is another innovative way to increase protein content in your snacks without significantly impacting their texture or flavor. Just add the protein powder directly with the other ingredients before you blend or mix. You may need to add a little extra olive oil or liquid to achieve your desired consistency. And you may want to adjust the seasonings to balance out the neutral (or bland) flavor of the protein.
  • “Breading” for chicken or fish: To increase the protein content and reduce carbohydrates in poultry or fish dishes, mix the unflavored whey with your seasonings (e.g., salt, pepper, and garlic). Set up a dredging station with one bowl of beaten eggs, a bowl of flour (if using), and another with the seasoned protein powder. Dip the chicken or fish into flour (if using), then into the beaten eggs, and finally, coat the chicken or fish with a layer of protein powder. You can then bake (in a preheated oven) or fry (over medium heat) until the outside is crispy and the chicken or fish is cooked through. To better maintain the nutritional benefits of the whey, it is better to bake than fry. And if you do fry, make sure you don’t fry over high heat, as this could burn off the protein coating and negatively affect the flavor.
  • Egg dishes: Include it in egg dishes like quiche, frittatas, or omelets to boost the protein and nutritional value. Start by preparing the egg mixture as usual. Then mix in the protein (~one scoop per four eggs) and whisk well to combine and prevent clumping. If you are adding milk or cream to the eggs, it can help to mix the whey protein into the liquid first, which can help prevent the protein from clumping as the eggs cook.

If you want to increase the amount of protein in your diet for the benefits mentioned above, an unflavored whey protein powder is one of the easiest, most versatile ways to do so. You may need to make some small adjustments to ensure the taste and texture work with the recipe. However, a few tips and tricks can set you up for success.

For example, start with the right type of protein powder for your recipe. Unflavored whey works best in savory dishes, soups, sauces, and baked goods to avoid adding conflicting flavors or sweetness. However, if you’re making a dessert-like smoothie or shake, oatmeal, or the like, you may want to choose vanilla, chocolate, or salted caramel to enhance the overall recipe.

With any recipe, especially if you’re using protein powder as a substitute for another ingredient (like flour), start with only a small portion. For example, if your recipe calls for 1 cup of flour, start with 1/4 to 1/3 of whey protein and 3/4 to 2/3 of regular flour, and then see if the recipe has been affected. This allows you to see how the adjustment affects the texture and taste without risking the entire recipe.

Because whey protein absorbs more liquids than most flours or other common ingredients, you may also need to add more liquid to the recipe to maintain the desired consistency. For example, you may need a touch more milk or milk alternative, water, or broth to prevent a dryer or denser texture.

Clumping protein powder is also a risk. To help ensure a smoother integration, try mixing the whey protein or other dry ingredients before adding the wet ingredients. This can help distribute the protein evenly throughout the mixture. If the recipe has a liquid (e.g., milk or water), you may also consider mixing the protein with the liquid until it’s smooth or creating a slurry so it doesn’t clump when you add in the rest of the ingredients or turn up the heat.

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You may also need to adjust the temperature. Protein powder can cause recipes to brown more quickly. So, consider lowering the oven temperature slightly and increasing the cooking time. This may help prevent over-browning or over-drying of the dish.

The taste and texture can also change slightly with the addition of protein powder. For instance, protein powder can make baked goods chewier or denser. You may need to experiment to create the texture that’s just right for you. Protein powder can also dilute some flavors. If you find that to be the case, then adding more spices, herbs, or flavorings can help bring out more of the expected taste. In addition, if you’re adding protein to a sauce or gravy, it may be better to add the whey protein once the dish has been heated through and allowed to cool slightly.

Finally, if you’re counting calories or macros, don’t forget to include the added protein in the nutrition facts, as the changes could impact your dietary goals.

Nutrient-Rich and Highly Versatile Unflavored Protein Powder

Adding your favorite protein powder into recipes is an easy and effective way to increase the protein content in your diet. It can enhance the nutritional value of a wide range of recipes to better support your health and fitness goals, such as building muscle, improving recovery, losing weight, or boosting overall health. Whether you’re adding it to savory dishes like soups, sauces, and baked goods or enriching smoothies and dips, whey protein offers a top-quality protein source that can fit almost anyone’s tastes.

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