My Search for the Best Protein Powder

I read a lot of health and fitness blogs.  I’m definitely a fan, but one of the things that sometimes irks me is that their lives don’t seem real to me in the sense that many of my favorite blogs are run by full-time bloggers.  They work from home, and have a schedule where they can work out at a variety of different times and can prepare their meals just before eating them since they’re at home.  In that sense, I can’t really relate.  My breakfasts don’t normally look like this:

pancakebreakfast

Ok so they don’t have breakfasts like that everyday either, but doesn’t it seem like it sometimes?

During the week I don’t really have time to make elaborate breakfasts.  Most days sleep and convincing myself to get my butt to the gym are more important.  Consequently, most mornings are a little bit like this:

Rushing out the door with a smoothie in a jar, my purse and my lunch bag.  A smoothie for breakfast is great, because I can drink it in the car or at my desk when I get to the office.  Lately, I’ve been trying to add protein to my morning smoothies to help keep me fuller longer.  I’ve had a container of protein powder sitting in my cupboard for over a year and honestly, I hated the taste.

I decided to go on a mission: to find the perfect protein powder.

My criteria are pretty limited: calories and taste.  I don’t want something too high in calories or sugar, but I definitely want it to taste good and keep me full til lunch.  So I went to the store and found as many single serving protein packets as possible.  Let me tell you about some of the ones I tried.

As a control, I mixed all of these protein powders with: 1/2 banana, mango chunks, spinach, kale, water, ice.  I figured that’s what I normally would want to have it with, so if it tastes good with that, I’d be pleased.

Just a note: I bought all of these protein powders on my own, I was not compensated for any of this.  This is just my opinion based on my palate.  I’m not a nutritionist or any type of expert on protein powder, I’m just a consumer sharing an opinion.

1. Garden of Life: Raw Protein

gardenoflife

Flavor: Real Raw Vanilla (they also have a chocolate and vanilla chai, I believe)

Taste:  Good.  A little on the sweet side.  It’s sweetened with stevia, which isn’t terrible.  I guess if you just mixed this with water or almond milk it might be the perfect sweetness (since mango and banana I mixed it with are sweet also)

Texture:  A tiny bit gritty, but not too bad.

Price: the small packet I got was $2.79, which is kind of expensive for a single serving.  On Amazon, a 22oz (approx. 28 servings) container costs $25.83.  That comes out to about $0.92/serving.  Not too bad, price wise.

Calories: 90 Calories for 17g of protein.  Keeps the smoothie pretty low cal, which for me is great.

Overall: I really like this one.  The flavor is great.  It was a little grittier than the others but I didn’t mind it.  I definitely like that it’s vegan, raw and plant-based.  I’m considering buying the large container of this one.

2. Vega One All-in-One Nutritional Shake

vegaone

Flavor: French Vanilla

Taste: Super tasty!  It reminded me of a milk shake, but that makes sense.  This isn’t actually protein powder.  It’s like an all-in-one nutrition shake, that said it had 15g of protein so I thought I’d give it a shot.

Texture: Super smooth.  I was definitely a fan of this.

Price: Probably the most expensive one.  Roughly 22 servings for $55.99 on Amazon.  That comes out to about $2.55 per serving.  Priceyyyyy…

Calories: 135 calories for 15g of protein.   BONUS: 6g of fiber! 50% of your daily vitamins and minerals.

Overall:  This was really good.  Loved the flavor and the texture.  It kept me full for a long time, but honestly, the deal breaker for me is the price. Woh woh.

3. 100% Whey Gold Standard

Flavor: Chocolate. I’m not really a fan of chocolate protein powder but I gave it a try anyway. My Co-worker gave me a serving of this to try.

Taste: Ok, not too chocolatey when mixed with the fruit and greens.   My complaint is that it has that whey protein after taste that I’m not a big fan of, but that’s subjective and also sorta just the nature of the beast.  I found myself guzzling this as quickly as possible just to get it over with… womp.

Texture: Very smooth!  Not gritty at all.  Definitely a bonus.  If you like frothy (which I hate), this (like other whey powders) gets frothy in the blender (even just mixed with water).

Price: On Amazon, it costs $53.99 for 73 servings.  That comes out to about $0.73 per serving.  Can’t beat that.

Calories: 120 calories for 24g of protein, pretty darn good.

Overall: Not bad.  Don’t think I’ll get it just because of the after taste but I’d be curious to try the other flavors like banana or vanilla.

4. Designer Whey

Flavor: French Vanilla

Taste: Ok so this is the protein powder that started the search.  I bought this one at Trader Joe’s and at the risk of sound harsh.  I hate the taste of this protein powder.  I don’t like the after taste at all.  It’s really hard for me to even finish a smoothie with it, and I am definitely not a picky eater.  A lot of times I found myself adding scoops of unsweetened cocoa powder to my smoothies to cover up the taste.  No bueno.

Texture: Smooth, frothy, not chalky.

Price: On Amazon, 4lbs for $45.19.  Not bad in terms of price.  Comes out to roughly $0.72 per serving.

Calories: 100 Calories for 18g of protein.  Not bad.  I think I’ll take Garden of Life over this one any day…

Overall:  I just can’t stand this one.  I’m pretty much convince I just don’t like the taste of any whey protein powder.  If you mix it with water and chug it, it’s fine, but if you’re going to sip over the course of half an hour (like I do with my morning smoothies), it’s not pleasant.  This one is a no-go for me.

5. Plant Fusion

Plantfusion

Flavor: Vanilla Bean

Taste: The package says “Amazing Taste.”  It’s good but I’m not sure I’d call it amazing.  It was a little sweet for my taste (sweetened with stevia).  To be honest, the taste was sorta “meh” for me.  Maybe I’m raising my protein powder flavor standards?

Texture: Smooth, not chalky or gritty when blended up.  I was a little concerned because there seemed to be a lot of powder in the packet, but it all smoothed out.

Price: On Amazon, it’s $30.31 for 2lbs, that’s about 30 servings.  So about $1 per serving.  Price isn’t terrible.

Calories: 120 calories for 21g of protein.  That’s pretty good in my opinion.  Up there with the 100% Gold Standard Whey, which probably had the best calorie to protein ratio, but I will say I much prefer the taste of this one.

Overall: This one is not bad.  It’s probably my second choice in terms of protein and price.  This one is a blend of pea protein, artichoke protein, amaranth powder and quinoa powder.  I’m definitely a fan of the fact that it’s plant-based.

I think so far, Garden of Life Raw Protein is the winner for me.  I love that it’s plant-based (we love the Earth, right?) and it tastes pretty darn good.  The fact that it’s low calorie just sort of sweetens the deal.

I’m going to keep trying more to find what I like but this was a good set I tried so far.  I’m really interested to try egg white protein powder.  I think I just need to stay away from whey.

Do you use protein powder? If so, what’s your favorite kind?  Suggest away because the search continues for me (maybe)!

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Healthy Chocolate Smoothie

I love dessert, and I love feeding people dessert almost as much (or maybe even more) than I like eating it myself.  But some days,  I have a major guilt trip.  Today is one of those days.  I know sugar is terrible for your health.  I shouldn’t eat so much of it, and sometimes I feel guilty that I feed my loved ones baked goods so often.

I generally think I’m a pretty health-conscious person,  but then I turn around and make things like this:

bananabundtcaketextjpg

I know dessert makes me happy, but I also know I shouldn’t be eating it all the time so I give it away.  So pretty much I’m a jerk, a jerk that pawns off things that are too unhealthy for her to eat onto other people.  And when jerks feel guilty, they turn to fruits and vegetables.

I swear this has nothing to do with the fact that I’m about 293048292 years late to the party and finally watched Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead and this article I read in National Geographic about Sugar.  That documentary didn’t convince me that I need to start juicing, but it did remind me that fruits and vegetables are always a good idea. The sugar article just reinforced my original idea that I need to eat less sugar. I’m not a nutritionist, but it seems like juices are lacking fiber and all the healthy things you get from the skins of fruits and vegetables. No? So instead of juice, I’m sticking to smoothies and less sugar.

healthychocolatesmoothie2

I’ve been having green smoothies for years.  My normal go-to combination was strawberry, banana, spinach.  But I decided to try a new combo to help me get past my enormous cravings for big handfuls of chocolate chips in the evenings.  It’s a bad habit.  So let’s replace it with something better:

healthychocolatesmoothie1

Healthy Chocolate-y Smoothie

1/2 frozen banana
1/2 cup frozen mango chunks (I eye ball it)
1-2 cup frozen spinach (I really just grab a huge handful and shove it in the blender)
1 date, pitted
1 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (or more if you want it more chocolate-y)
1 cup ice
1/2-1 cup water or almond milk (this might vary)

Place all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.  In my Vitamix, I don’t need that much water and I can get it to be pretty thick.

inblender

I actually eat it with a spoon!  Note: This makes one large smoothie for one person.

The key here is really the cocoa powder.

cocoapowder

You get the chocolate-y flavor without all the sugar.  The sweetness here comes from fruit, particularly the date.

It’s not like eating a Wendy’s frosty. Let’s be clear.  It’s not.  But it’s pretty darn tasty and it definitely helps me get my chocolate fix in a much healthier way.

So what do you think?  Is it bad to feed your friends and family unhealthy foods?  Should I (or you) feel guilty about it?

Green Soup: Broccoli-Spinach Soup with Yogurt

I’m a firm believer in balance.  Not like the yoga type.  I tried yoga, really I tried.  I just can’t do it.  I was thinking balance more in the dietary sense.

This weekend I went to the Taste of OC festival.  To say I ate a lot is probably the biggest understatement ever.  It was amazing.

Ribs. Fried Pig Ear.  Shrimp and Lobster Grinder. Italian Ice. Broken Banana Cream Pie. There were probably other things too.  I can’t remember since I was in food coma the second half of the afternoon.

Sometimes, you can only take so many rich, heavy dishes.  Sometimes you need something green, healthy, tangy and light that includes zero sugar.

Something like this:

Broccoli-Spinach Soup with Yogurt

1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion diced
2 cups broccoli, chopped

2 cups spinach
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup non-fat greek yogurt
salt and pepper to taste
garbanzo beans, optional

In pot, heat oil and cook onions until translucent.  Add broth and bring to a boil.  Add broccoli and spinach and simmer for 3-4 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Allow to cool a little bit.  Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth.  Stir in greek yogurt and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Garnish with garbanzo beans if desired.

Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side.

Easiest meal ever? Probably.

Tastiest? Pretty close.

I have no doubt in my mind I’ll be ready for an enormous meal soon (even though I think I’ve sworn off food festivals for all of eternity… or maybe just until the end of the month?).

In the meantime, I’ll stick to the green stuff for a bit.

Not Juice

What the f*** is juice?

You know what I’m talking about right?

If you don’t, then watch this:

I apologize if you’re easily offended.  I just happen to have a ridiculous sense of humor.

So speaking of juice (not drink)…

My father and brother are currently obsessed with juicing.  Now I see where I get my nuttiness from.  My sister lent/gave them her juicer a few days ago and they’ve been obsessed ever since.

For some reason, I’m a juice hater.  I know.  I should be supportive of their juicing endeavors, but no.  I’m not.  I just don’t understand drinking juice and I don’t care what you tell me, celery in your juice is just not tasty.  I love vegetables as much as the next person, actually probably more than the next person, but drinking vegetables isn’t really my thing.  I’d rather eat them, but oh wait…

Green smoothie on the other hand…

I’m all for it.  Especially made with 1 frozen banana, half a mango, a few handfuls of spinach, some kale, ice and water.

I vote yes.  So let’s be clear.  This is not juice.

Spinach-Quinoa-Peach Salad with Honey-Sage Vinaigrette, My Type of Salad

You know how they say people have types?  A type of guy or girl they always date or crush on.

You know what I mean.  You probably have a type.

I like to think this is my type

But realistically, it’s usually some goofy-looking, bearded guy…

I’m not the best at that whole guy thing so instead, I’ll stick to food.

In that department, I most definitely know my type, and this is my type of meal.

I like things that don’t seem to make sense together.  I guess that’s true for guys as well, but let’s stick to the topic at hand:

This salad combines sweet, salty, warm, cold, soft, crunchy and creamy.  If it were a lady it would be that cute, quirky girl that gentlemen seem to pine over in movie.  You know the type:

But in life, it’s just a delicious lunch.

Spinach-Quinoa-Peach Salad with Honey-Sage Vinaigrette

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup vegetable broth
3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 peach, sliced
2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp fresh chopped sage
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the quinoa with one cup of vegetable (water and salt works too).  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  In the meantime prepare the salad and dressing.

In a large bowl, combine the spinach, peach slices and goat cheese.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, honey, apple cider vinegar, sage and salt and pepper.

Once the quinoa is ready, fluff it a bit with a fork, pour hot quinoa over the salad, quickly pour the dressing over the mixture and toss to combine.  The spinach will wilt slightly but still stay fresh and delicious, giving this salad the perfect combination of textures.

Serves 4 as a side dish, 2 as a main dish.

So whether you’ve found your type or, like me, have no idea what your type actually is, just make this salad.  Chances are it’ll be your type too.

You Were Missed

Green smoothies

Drip coffee and English Muffins with PB and Banana

I had missed you all these months.  Welcome back to my life.

Ahh exit project defense in less than 2 hours!

Remain calm.

Mushroom-Spinach Risotto

Last Tuesday, after a full day of work and two hours of class, I went to the grocery store.  In my drowsy state of exhaustion, I decided I wanted rice.  Unknowingly I purchased arborio, the kind of rice used for risotto, instead of the regular longer grain rice that I’m accustomed to.  I don’t think it was a language barrier, as the box was clearly labeled “arborio.”  It was probably just that I was tired, hungry and not in the right state of mind.

Long story short.  I now have a box of arborio rice sitting in my kitchen cabinet.  Clearly, it can’t go to waste.  Neither can the huge bag of spinach that I purchased in a moment of desperation when I felt like I’d had it with carbohydrates.

But alas, carbohydrates can’t seem to escape me.  Luckily, they’re delicious.

Mushroom-Spinach Risotto

2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 cup arborio rice
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 cup white wine
3 cups vegetable broth, warm
2 cups fresh chopped spinach
pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese (or more if you’d like)

Heat oil in a pot on medium heat.  Add mushrooms and arborio, cook for 5-10 mins until rice begins to turn translucent.  Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.    Add white wine, stir until it is almost completely absorbed.  Then begin to add the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until the liquid absorbs.  Repeat until you’ve used all but a bit of the broth.  Stir in the chopped spinach and the last bit of liquid.  Keep stirring until almost completely absorbed, then add the pepper and parmesan.  Once all the liquid is absorbed, serve immediately.

Serves 4.

I think I’m going to suck it up and pay the 195 Euro to use a gym for three months.  I think it might be worth it.

Even though I walk everywhere here, I don’t think it’s going to cut it.  I hadn’t realized how lucky I was to have a cheap gym so close to me in Ithaca.  While I don’t miss the snow, I definitely miss how easy it was to work out.

I’ll keep you posted on the gym dilemma.  Any thoughts?