Drop your protein powder scooper and step away from the blender…
Cause I think I found THE most efficient, delicious and well-rounded plant-based protein powder known to NAMB kind! And I must share with you. That is my duty.
You see, a mere few weeks ago, Garden Of Life graciously sent me some awesome samples to try out for my blog. I’m a sucker for a) healthy vegan products, b) hip, modern company branding and c) anything free. I have tried a multitude of different vegan protein powders but Garden of Life takes it to another level. Most that I’ve tried are great sources of plant based protein usually containing 3 or less ingredients such as brown rice protein, pea protein and even sacha inchi protein. While some have made my recipes quite awesome, there were some that tasted like unappetizing cardboard and didn’t agree digestively. Needless to say, they were giving me my adequate amount of protein intake, but I didn’t want to consume anything that made my stomach bark and meow.
Unless you’re a physical athlete or working out immensely, I wouldn’t be too concerned about the lack of protein in your everyday diet. The overall focus should be about getting a healthy balanced amount of nutrients and vitamins. Of course, some may need more of one than the other, but ultimately, it’s about that fine balance. You know, the one that makes you feel oh-so-good overall.
Eating a variety of a bountiful, beneficial and nutrient dense whole foods is key to a healthy lifestyle. While vegan protein powders are not typically as essential as consuming whole foods such as fresh organic greens, lots of vegetables, fruits, beans, seeds and nuts, they serve a purpose in providing a sizable punch of protein efficiently and effectively for those who are health conscious like me. Personally, I consider them to be “health enhancers or boosters” more than supplements or replacements for real food. If you pair a fabulous protein product with your usual array of healthy foods, your food really can’t get any more super than that! So essentially, it’s ideal to opt for a protein powder/supplement that’s on par to a whole food source to really make it worth your while.
Let’s face it – you deserve the best!
Raw Protein and Organic Plant Protein both have many admirable factors to say the least. What I love about Garden of Life’s products, besides the obvious fact that they provide clean protein, is that they offer a plethora of vitamins and minerals your body also needs and contain zero synthetic fillers and preservatives. Ingredients that don’t stress you out! The Raw Protein products are raw (duh!), certified organic, vegan and contain live probiotics (good bacteria), enzymes like proteases, essential amino acids, fat soluble vitamins like A, D, K and E and a bunch of sprouted goodness like flax seed sprouts, quinoa sprouts, lentil sprouts, buckwheat sprouts, broccoli sprouts to name a few. Let’s just say that there’s a whole lot of goodness in there! See for yourself here. Oh yeah, I should probably tell you that there’s about 17 grams of plant based protein per serving. That’s a good deal for the amount of very few calories. You can choose from 4 flavours – chocolate, vanilla, vanilla chai and raw original. For my recipes below, I used vanilla chai as it was my most favourite palate-wise and worked flawlessly in my blondies.
*Note: I’ve chosen to be ironic by using a raw protein powder for a baked good instead of the smoothie.*
Organic Plant Protein’s formula is a bit similar. The powder isn’t raw and it’s grain free but still has the same endearing qualities like being certified organic, vegan, nutritional and high in protein of course. For about 100 calories worth of a serving, there’s less than 1 gram of sugar (no added sugar and sweetened with stevia), roughly 3-4 grams of fiber and carries about 15 grams of plant strong protein. You also got some pea seeds in there, some flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds which all come together beautifully to balance and level out your blood sugars. What’s more is that they threw in some superfoods in there like moringa and baobab for that extra mineral and anti-oxidant kick. There’s 4 different flavour options and they’re all deliciously earthy tasting, smooth and versatile. The flavours are subtly apparent but the hint of sweetness to them isn’t overbearing but rather fortifying. Smooth Energy was my go-to because it contained a type of naturally caffeinated tea called Yerba Mate and added Vitamin B12 (warranted for vegans and vegetarians like me.) I must say, it’s less chalky than it’s cousin Raw Protein and more appetizing to throw and mix in a beverage like in my smoothie below.
All in all, they’re both worry-free, reliable options when searching for a standard protein powder product to call the one. Find a product that works for you and your preferences. Experiment with different recipes to keep things fun and interesting. I’m here to tell you that consuming protein powder doesn’t have to be boring!
BLONDIES (use organic and preservative free ingredients whenever possible!)
1 1/2 cups of gluten free flour blend (I used buckwheat flour and brown rice flour with a bit of coconut flour)
1 tsp of baking soda
1/4 tsp of coriander
1/2 tsp of cinnamon (I like to use a little more)
1/4 tsp of cardamom
1 pack of Raw Protein Vanilla Chai protein powder
1/4 tsp of guar gum (optional but keeps ish together)
1/2 cup of unsweetened almond or cashew milk
1/4 cup of cold pressed virgin coconut oil (melted)
3 tsp of alcohol free vanilla
6-10 packs of stevia (use your taste bud discretion)
1 cup of vegan, stevia-sweetened dark chocolate (chunks or chips – your call!)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8 x 8 square baking pan with some oil.
Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Except chocolate! Mix together wet ingredients in another bowl.
Stir to combine both bowls into one. Fold in chocolate chunks/chips. Don’t be stingy! Next, spoon the batter into the greased pan and smooth down with a spatula or the back of your spoon. Add more chocolate if you please. And please do.
Bake the blondies for 16-18 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 20 minutes before slicing into desired squares. Bite, devour and repeat.
Then enjoy this smoothie:
Half of a small frozen banana
1/4 cup of frozen strawberries
Handful amount of baby spinach (I say the more the better!)
1 generous scoop of Organic Plant Protein Yerba Mate Smooth Energy
2 tbsp of raw cashews
1 tbsp of chia seeds
1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
4-6 ice cubes (I usually more cause I like it creamy!)
Blend it. Love it. Drink it.
These guys sure do: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qj324R9R_NQ&feature=youtu.be (Warning. Some explicit content!)
While you’re there, check this one out too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZcUrWAK-8Q (Sorry!)
Don’t like what you see, do ya? After all, you’ve been brainwashed by the dairy industry’s propaganda to believe that the main source of calcium is by consuming milk (and milk products) and by drinking the recommended glass of it a day (or 3 according to the USDA), you’ll grow up to have strong, healthy bones.
So yes, you do need cow’s milk to be healthy – if you’re a baby calf! :/
The meat industry has been under some major scrutiny (and for good reasons) for their colossal factory farm system and practices of raising cattle in immoral confinement, yet the animals in the dairy industry are arguably just as guilty. In their haste to sell you their products, the dairy industry has created an obsession over the importance of dairy products (also known as liquid meat) which in reality does more harm to the body and our planet than good.
There has been extensive scientific studies on the many harmful cumulative effects of consuming AND producing dairy – whether organic or not. In actuality, there is no reason for us to consume cow’s milk—and there are a host of important reasons to avoid it. Here are some that I’ve gathered for you to help you pass up that glass of cow’s milk:
1) Less dairy equals better bones. Countries with the lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption (like those in Asia and Africa) have the lowest rates of osteoporosis.
2) Calcium may (or does) raise cancer risk. Some studies have proved that with higher intakes of both calcium and dairy products can potentially increase a man’s risk of prostate cancer by 30 to 50 percent. Dairy product consumption increases levels of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-1) in the bloodstream. IGF-1 is a potent stimulus for cancer cell growth. High IGF-1 levels are linked to increased risk of prostate cancer and breast cancer. Nowadays, milking cows are given antibiotics and most are also injected with a genetically engineered form of bovine growth hormone (rBGH). A man-made or synthetic hormone used to artificially increase milk production, rBGH also increases blood levels of the insulin-growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in those who drink it.
3) Not everyone can stomach dairy. Approximately 75 percent of the world’s population is genetically unable to properly digest milk and other dairy products — a problem called lactose intolerance. You may not show the common symptoms, but try taking it out of your diet and see what happens! 😉
4) Adding dairy foods to your diet would only supply more calories, fat, animal protein, cholesterol, sodium, microbes, and chemical contamination—ingredients that may contribute to even more health problems and trigger inflammation such as allergies, sinus problems, diabetes, chronic constipation, asthma, autism, skin issues such as eczema and irritable bowel syndrome.
5) Amy Lanou Ph.D., nutrition director for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine states, “The countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis are the ones where people drink the most milk and have the most calcium in their diets. The connection between calcium consumption and bone health is actually very weak, and the connection between dairy consumption and bone health is almost nonexistent.”
6) Milk is a very strong earth pollutant: it is about 400 times more polluting than untreated sewage. To put it another way, 1,000 gallons of milk has the same polluting potential as the untreated sewage from a town of 7,000 people.
7) So yes, dairy farms and factories pollute the earth and also accountable for the huge amounts of CO2 emissions, land degradation, water consumption and water contamination. They also contribute to the slaughter of more than 250,000 dairy cows per year.
8) ALL cow’s milk (regular and ‘organic’) has 59 active hormones, scores of allergens, fat and cholesterol that either occur within the milk naturally as the cow develops it OR it has synthetically been injected into them. Most cow’s milk has measurable quantities of herbicides, pesticides, dioxins (up to 200 times the safe levels) and up to 52 powerful antibiotics. Milk also contains blood, pus (about 750 million pus cells allowed by the FDA), feces, bacteria, viruses and traces of anything (both toxic and non) the cow eats too. Yes, while some raw, whole, organic milk eliminates concerns like pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and the effects of homogenization and pasteurization — but these benefits don’t outweigh dairy’s potential health risks overall.
9) The amount of money the government spends to promote the dairy industry is roughly 550 million just in America alone! Each marketing buck spent boosts sales by an average of $8, for an annual total of an extra $4.6 billion in government-backed sales of meat, dairy, and eggs. If that wasn’t enough, the U.S. government also spends on average more than $30 billion in subsidies for animal products such as dairy, and only a fraction of a fraction of that much on fruits and vegetables. That’s just sad. In addition, some of the “experts” who have helped create the recommended food pyramid actually work for the dairy industry, which makes the US Department of agriculture’s recommendations reflect industry interests (aka money), not science or the public’s best interests.
10) The life of a Western cow ain’t a pleasant one. While female calves are slaughtered or kept alive to produce milk, male calves are often taken away from their mothers when they are as young as 1 day old to be chained in tiny stalls for three to 18 weeks. Male calves, who cannot be raised to themselves become dairy cows, are slaughtered early on in life for veal. The dairy industry is the backbone of the veal industry – without it, the routine slaughter of calves could not continue. Just like veal calves, dairy cows who cannot produce milk due to exhaustion or disease are of no use to the dairy industry. Instead of “wasting resources” (feeding, sheltering), these cows are transported to factory farm feeding facilities to be fattened up, then slaughtered for meat.
One of the best methods to battle practices you don’t support is to vote with your dollars. Or as I’d like to say, “Vote with your fork!” Opting out from dairy altogether is definitely an ideal option and it’s a lot easier than you think. Nowadays, you can almost always find milk alternatives in your grocery aisle. You can choose from a number of delicious non dairy alternatives such as almond milk, hemp milk, organic soy milk and rice milk. Or – make your own! Be your own almond milk man. Don’t eat meat but can’t live without cheese or butter? Try making your own homemade cheese made from nuts like cashews and almonds. Rather than slathering your food with salty butter, try going for organic virgin coconut oil!
What about calcium and the benefits of milk we’re told are good for us? While calcium is a necessary nutrient, we can easily get enough of it from plant based foods. The most healthful sources of this vitamin can be obtained from eating green leafy vegetables and legumes, beans, seaweed and nuts. You don’t need to rely on dairy for healthy bones either. If you want strong, healthy bones, getting plenty of exercise and vitamin D (about 2000 IU or more depending) daily is key. Remember, dairy is not vital for good health nor is it sustainable.
Go dairy free and see what it can potentially and positively do for you. Trade in that glass of chocolate milk you crave in the morning and instead opt for a delicious vegan cinnamon roll protein milk beverage that’s nutrient dense, immune boosting and cruelty free. And then if someone throws a “Got milk?” at you (whether in a paid advertisement or from someone who wants it for breakfast) smile and let them know that you know better!
What you’ll need:
1.5 cups of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (homemade or an organic brand of your choice – always unsweetened!)
6-10 ice cubes
1 pouch of vegan protein powder unsweetened vanilla flavour (Brown rice or pea protein works best!)
1 tsp of organic cinnamon powder
1 tbsp of ground flax
1 tsp of chia seeds
Optional: pinch of stevia to taste (my protein powder usually contains some so I usually leave this out)
Another great option: raw cacao nibs, a pinch of vanilla bean powder
Add all ingredients to your Magic Bullet or high speed blender and blend until smooth. Garnish with more cinnamon if desired. Enjoy! x
Drink to your health – right in the morning!
One of the best things to have right after a well rested sleep is a delicious, healthy green smoothie loaded with nutrients. They give you a boost in energy, supply a radiant amount of nutrients, help improve skin conditions, reduce sugary cravings, assist in effortless weight loss and provide you with the daily dose of vegetables and fruits your body needs. While green smoothies and juices are all the hype these days, there are ways to get the most out of your daily dose of uplifting nourishment.
Steadily start your engine by swapping your dead, sugary, unhealthy breakfast with a pre-chewed living greens smoothie after your tall glass of lemon water or morning green tea. This way, your body reaps the benefits of the bio-available nutrients it has offer while preserving your delicate digestive fire.
The other day, I learned a fantastic habit to get the most out of my daily smoothies. Chew them! Digestion starts in your mouth, so by activating salivary enzymes by “chewing” your smoothie, you are basically letting your digestive organs know that food is on its way. Saliva is secreted when you chew your food, so by chewing your smoothie, you’re helping an important part of the digestive process by lubricating the sugars that essentially helps them break down easier in your stomach. Let’s face it – bloating can suck! So try chewing your smoothie instead of gulping it down in one sitting.
I’ve made this recipe almost everyday this week! It’s easy, quick and absolutely tasty. As you probably know from my previous posts, I keep on a low sugar, low glycemic diet in which I consume much more vegetables than I do fruit. The first tip to making a nutrient dense smoothie (or juice) is by keeping the greens-fruit ratio roughly 4:1. Leafy greens provide a substantial dose of calcium, iron, disease fighting phytochemicals and phytonutrients. You don’t necessarily want a sugar laden smoothie as it defeats the overall purpose. Frozen cucumbers is a great way to add some wholesome sweetness to your smoothie without having to use sugary fruits like bananas or mangoes.
A second important tip is making sure you get an adequate amount of protein combined with healthy fats. This is very important especially when you’re having your smoothie for breakfast or as a meal replacement. Raw almond butter and hemp seeds stow healthy fats including immunity and brain boosting Omega-3 fatty acids. Along with the vegan protein powder (whether it’s pea protein or brown rice protein), this smoothie is packed with the essential protein your body needs for daily fuel, growth support and maintenance.
Get the right energy you need by starting your day off with a smoothie bang!
An Ode To Smoothies – Recipes like this:
Ironic isn’t it? I don’t drink alcohol but I love using my tall Carlsberg glass for my smoothies! Who needs alcohol anyway when you can have a succulent and beneficial drink instead?
What you’ll need:
Half a large local cucumber (frozen, cut into slices)
3-5 packed cups of organic baby spinach (or leafy greens of your choice!)
1 1/2 cups of unsweetened almond milk (or 1 cup of almond milk +1/2 cup of filtered water if you don’t want it too creamy)
1 tsp of organic raw almond butter (I love Dastony’s sprouted almond butter for this!)
1/2 a scoop of vanilla vegan protein powder
2 tbsp of raw hemp protein (Natera’s Natural Hemp Protein works great)
1 tsp of grounded flax or chia seeds
Optional: sometimes I like my morning smoothie a little bit tangy sweet, so I add half a cup of FROZEN sliced raspberries!
Blend the cucumbers, baby spinach and almond milk first for 1 minute. Add in protein ingredients and flax/chia.
Blend some more. Keep a bit of the smoothie chunky so you retain some of the needed fiber which you can then “chew” during consumption.
Chew, drink and feel powerful!
“But where do you get your protein?” is one the many commonly asked questions when I’m talking to someone about my plant based diet and lifestyle. Whatever “diet” you may be on be it vegan, vegetarian or the funny named flexitarian, if you care about a healthy one, want to increase your muscle mass, or gain/lose/maintain weight, then you know that a clean, full and sustainable protein source is vital. My answer to the question: protein is a non issue for me as high quality protein is quite abundant in a lot of plant foods!
How much protein do we need on a daily basis? Well, the RDA recommends 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram or 0.36 grams per pound. This can fluctuate base on your activity levels and desire to gain more muscle mass. Our bodies use sufficient protein to support optimal tissue health, immunity function, growth and maintenance of lean body mass during activity, muscle recovery and overall vital body preservation.
So we all know the importance of adequate protein as well as good fats and vitamins and minerals sourced from plant based foods. However, having an active lifestyle while living in a very fast paced society, it can be a challenge to prepare healthy smoothies, juices, complete meals and snacks to fuel my days. Let’s face it guys – counting your calories and carbs, making sure you’re getting the proper amounts of protein and vitamins can be a pain and time consuming! Especially if you’re a vegan/vegetarian since we’re often told to be more mindful of our protein intake. But regularly consuming a variety of whole foods and nutritious snacks, you won’t need to play diet mathematician! Though there aren’t many plant based friendly, sugar free/low sugar products catered towards protein density on the market (yet), the best option is to always make your own! All you need are the best of the best ingredients, a set time during the week and a little bit of arm work. It’s definitely worth it and you’ll feel more at ease knowing exactly what you’re putting into your body.
So when Raw Green Organics provided me with their RAWJUVENATE Organic Vegan Protein powder in vanilla for an original recipe on my blog, I knew I could not just make an easy peasy smoothie. Of course, it’s definitely delicious enough to throw in smoothies and other energy beverages or even just milk – that is how it is mainly used, yes? But variety is the spice of life and there are many yummy and fun ways to incorporate protein into your everyday ritual. Like these moist, luscious good-for-you bars I’m about to share with you. One of the best parts about these bars is that you don’t feel like you’re eating anything “healthy” – they’re that good! It’s as if you’re eating raw cookie dough but without the added nasties. There’s also no need for unnecessary protein supplements because these bars have you covered! Thanks to my new favourite vegan protein powder, they’re naturally rich in protein, high in healthy Omega 3-6-9 fatty acids and certified organic! A perfect base to the protein bars and actually, they make em taste….better! I’ve found that many commercial protein powders contain a whack load of refined additives, added sugar and sometimes make my recipes taste dry and chalky. This was especially apparent in some brown rice protein powders I’ve tried as well. But Raw Green Organics locally sources all of their organic ingredients so that we are compensated with only high quality tasting products.
Their Organic Vegan Protein powder is naturally derived and made with organic yellow peas, organic sacha inchi protein, organic hemp protein and organic flaxseeds. The formula was carefully formulated to appeal to those on the vegan diet as well as those with the common food allergies and is 100% free from lactose, dairy, whey, gluten, wheat, sugar and soy. Each serving (about 2 tbsps) provides about 15 grams of protein and supplies a balanced fatty acid and complete branched-chain amino acid profile. These serve as important fuel sources for our muscles during times of stress and exercise.
Hold up! What is organic sacha inchi? Also known as the Savi Seed, sacha inchi is a plant that’s grown in mountainous regions of South America like Peru. It’s been used for thousands of years but you will most likely start to see this popping up more and being developed for commercial purposes and benefits for health products like this protein powder! Nutritionally, it’s impressive profile is very similar to hemp in that the plant offers a wide variety of EFA’s and high complementary or standalone protein content. There are sources that state sacha inchi is one of the most nutritionally complete foods you can include in your diet because of its vast beneficial benefits because the seeds are rich digestible protein content and contain about 25% of Omega 3’s by weight alone. Like chia seeds and maca powder, sacha inchi is definitely another “superfood” we can benefit from particularly if the indigenous peoples have been consuming it for energy for centuries! Another naturally vegan plant based protein source we can add to our list which also gives the extra health boost needed in these protein bars! Mmmm.
A good quality protein bar can be convenient fuel, whether it’s post strength training workouts, during long hikes with friends or for easy breakfast morning grabs. Making these raw high protein bars is an excellent snack option that will keep you satisfied and help maintain your healthy regime. These bad boys are raw so baking is not required here. This definitely helps to cut down time while giving you more time to enjoy your happy, active life!
These homemade protein bars are raw, vegan, dairy free, soy free, corn free, grain free, wheat free, yeast free, preservative free, sugar free and packed with vitamins and minerals!
Keep them individually wrapped and cool in the fridge for a convenient way to grab, go and nourish!
What you’ll need:
2 tbsp of organic virgin coconut oil
3 tbsp of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or other non dairy milk of choice)
1/4 cup of granulated xylitol (or raw coconut sugar but it won’t be sugar free!)
1 tbsp of non alcohol vanilla extract
3/4 cup of Organic Vegan Protein Powder (Vanilla flavor is my favourite!)
3/4 cup of 100 % almond flour or almond meal (to make it nut free but still grain free, try coconut flour or buckwheat flour – taste will differ a bit)
1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of raw organic cacao nibs
1 tsp of organic cinnamon powder
Optional: 1 tsp of maca powder, carob powder or chia seeds for an extra kick!
Melt the coconut oil in a small pan or bowl. Whisk in almond milk, vanilla, sweetener, and cinnamon until well combined. Add the dry ingredients. Taste and adjust the sweetness if necessary. If it’s a little too dry, add a tiny bit more oil or 1 tsp of nut butter! Do not add more coconut flour or protein powder as they set and dry out when chilled. Fold in cacao nibs and mix.
Using your hands, grab mixture and press down on parchment paper. Shape into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Place in fridge to set. Cut into bars, eat and conquer the day!
My healthy Protein Fudge Bar recipe and my advertisement for Absolute Organix/Lifematrix featured in this month’s issue of Wellness Magazine by South Africa’s favourite health chain store, Wellness Warehouse.
You can also find the recipe on the website: www.wellnesswarehouse.com/articles/protein-fudge-bar