Protein powder is a serious business. In 2016, the global protein market was valued at 12.4 billion, and there are no signs of it slowing down any time soon. What was once a niche supplement for the most intense fitness enthusiasts is now a pantry staple for many people looking to meet their protein intake while on the go, minus unnecessary carbohydrates and calories. Today, about two in five Americans take protein shakes and drinks regularly.
With the major demand for protein powder comes a vast array of options, from tried-and-true whey powder to plant-based alternatives that derive their protein from peas, soybeans, brown rice, hemp and beyond. No matter the protein powder type you choose, if you’re taking it the same way a few times each week, you’re likely to catch a case of protein powder boredom.
Tired of protein shakes but still craving the extra boost that your favorite supplement provides? A little creativity coupled with a few healthy ingredients can transform your protein powder into a satisfying, healthy meal. Here are seven go-to protein powder recipes that go beyond shakes and smoothies without compromising nutritional value.
Pancakes: We know what you’re thinking when you hear the word “pancakes.” But have no fear; these pancakes won’t bulk you up with additional flour or sugar. And since they only require four ingredients, they’re a cinch to make. Simply heat up your skillet, mix half a banana with four strawberries, a scoop of vanilla protein powder and an egg, and you’ve got flourless pancakes that deliver a ton of protein. The ingredients can be mixed in a blender for additional ease and a thinner texture. Just skip the butter and processed syrup.
On-The-Go Oatmeal Cups: These oatmeal cups take a bit of actual baking, but that work will pay off in the morning when you’ve got a pre-made breakfast that delivers a serious dose of protein. These oatmeal cups pack on the protein beyond what your powder alone provides, thanks to Greek yogurt, peanut butter, eggs and a milk of your choice. They’re a bit more decadent than the pancakes, but they’re also a healthy treat that gets your morning started off right.
Peaches And Cream Oatmeal: On their own, oats are already a wholesome way to start your day. Adding in protein powder pushes this classic healthy breakfast over the top, and a little maple syrup and peach slices make sure you don’t sacrifice taste for the health factor. Add seeds or nuts to mix up this go-to protein powder recipe.
Brownie Batter Protein Pudding: The first few recipes were mid-way between breakfast and dessert. This recipe is all sweet. Almond milk, protein powder, unsweetened cocoa powder, frozen bananas and perhaps a handful of spinach come together for an extra-thick smoothie or a delicious protein-rich pudding.
Low-Carb Hot Pockets: This recipe is perfect for a packed lunch or any lazy day when you feel tempted to reach for that microwaved meal. This twist on a common processed, sodium-laden dinner features a gluten-free dough and an endless array of filling possibilities. With dough ingeniously made of almond flour, protein powder and a few healthy fat binders, this has to be one of the most creative uses of protein powder we’ve seen yet.
Protein Powder Veggie Burgers: Feel free to follow this recipe to the tee or steal its secrets for your own favorite veggie burger recipe. These pumpkin protein burgers are a perfect mix of sweet, savory and a little spicy that can be frozen to keep the memory of fall alive. The burger packs both nutrients and flavor, and the combination of pumpkin puree, legumes and protein powder ensures you’ll finish this burger feeling satisfied.
No-Bake Thin Mint Balls: These snack balls have the same peppermint taste as everyone’s favorite Girl Scout cookies, but they swap out the cookie’s unhealthy aspects in favor of natural sugars, healthy fats and, of course, protein powder. Pitted dates and a cup of cashews, a little almond milk and plenty of chia seeds come together to redefine healthy snacking in this no-bake dessert.
Ready to expand your horizons when it comes to protein? Check out these top-rated protein powders, and then use your new favorite supplement in one of the recipes above. Just like fitness itself, nutrition is all about variety—and who doesn’t need an excuse to grab a healthy Hot Pocket or no-bake protein dessert?