Without protein, smoothies are just fruit and liquid. Protein makes a smoothie a meal. It makes a smoothie more filling and aids in muscle recovery if enjoyed soon after a tough workout. You can add protein to your smoothie by including dairy milk, yogurt or even cottage cheese.
However, my favorite way to get some extra protein in my diet and improve its flavor is to use protein powder — whey protein to be exact. Most whey protein has anywhere from 18-22 grams of protein!
I've heard a lot of complaints about the taste of protein powder, so I recommend trying a few different brands to find the kind that you like best and finding a few smoothie recipes that you enjoy (more on that later).
Here are a few whey protein brands that I've tried and really liked:
Whey isn't for everyone. Some people are lactose-sensitive and have trouble digesting whey protein. However, if your stomach can't handle dairy, there are several brands that are lactose-free, like Biochem.
Whey is made from the whey isolate of cow's milk — a byproduct of making cheese, so it is not vegan-friendly. But there are a lot of options out there for those of you who still want to amp up the protein in your animal-free smoothie.
I've tried several non-whey proteins and my favorite is Spiru-tein. One of the things I like best about this protein powder is that it is offered in single serving sizes (in addition to the larger containers) so you can try it out before investing in a large tub. Vegan protein powders tend to be a bit more expensive, but like all protein powders (whey included), you can usually find a good deal by searching for them online and purchasing in bulk after you find the kind you like best.
Once you've found a protein powder that fits your diet, it's time to put it to the taste test in a smoothie recipe. Here are two of my favorite smoothie recipes that are easy and delicious, plus they're packed full of protein.
PEACHES 'N CREAM SMOOTHIE (serves 1)
Make this fast, while peach season is still here, or pick up a bag of frozen peaches from your local grocery store.
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 small peach, sliced and frozen
1/2 banana, frozen
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon honey (optional)
1 serving of vanilla whey protein* (or protein powder of choice)
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
*One serving is one scoop for my particular brand of whey protein. Read the serving size for you own particular brand because scoops vary in size so some call for two scoops.
CHERRY LIME SMOOTHIE (serves 1)
The sweet cherries and tart lime make this smoothie pop with flavor. It’s refreshing and just so darn pretty.
1 cup of almond milk
1/2 frozen banana
3/4 cup frozen cherries
juice and zest of half a lime
1 serving vanilla whey protein (or protein powder of choice)
Combine everything in a blender and blend until smooth.
Fun substitutions: Leave out the lime zest and use chocolate whey protein instead of vanilla OR use vanilla, but add 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder.
Kelly Davis is a blogger, freelance writer, food enthusiast, and native North Carolinian. When she's not training for a race or cooking something delicious in the kitchen, she's writing, reading, snuggling her dachshund, or plotting her next project. You can keep up with Kelly's antics and recipes on her blog, Foodie Fresh.