Healthy and Sane

Protein galore

November 9th, 2010 · 29 Comments · baking, sandwich, snacks

Last week I started the New Rules of Lifting for Women program and that means extra protein. I need to make sure that I am consuming enough protein to build extra muscle. I am following through with the workouts so it’s very important that the nutrition is in check too – it’s just part of the equation. :)

Although I need to significantly increase my total protein intake, for ethical reasons I don’t want to increase the amount of meat I eat. That means, I gotta get creative :) First up – sardines. They are full of Omega 3s and despite a bad reputation, are absolutely delicious. This is my favorite brand – the olive oil is infused with different flavors, like lemon, and really deepens the flavor of sardines. Yummy 😀

I kept it simple this last time – just spread over a whole wheat peace of toast and paired with a simple kale/tomato and feta salad. Not a trace of fishiness. 😀

After going back and forth on the protein powder dilemma, I decided that while processed, natural whey protein powder is still real food. So I stocked up! :mrgreen:

Whey protein powder is made out of milk through a process of separating whey from casein, then filtered, purified and dried (more details on the process here). I kind of think of natural protein powder as natural corn tortilla chips. It takes a little while to make corn into chips, but if there are no junk ingredients added, I can justify enjoying some in moderation. Plus, it’s hard to beat the convenience of protein powder when trying to add protein into your diet!

The packets are I bought for “emergency” protein to-go. I also received this 100% Gold Standard Natural Whey from America’s Nutrition (thank you, Stephanie, for sending this to me!!).

I chose the vanilla flavor because I thought it’d be most versatile and I was right. It’s sweetened with stevia and has a real vanilla flavor. I’ve been adding a scoop to my iced coffee and shakes, stirring some in to yogurt and most recently into these protein cookies. I have a not so mild obsession with these!

The “dough” is based on this recipe of granola bars (found through EatingRD) – omitted the pumpkin spice, then I replaced raisins with dried cherries (and doubled the amount) and 1/2c of large chunks of walnuts instead of pumpkin seeds (I followed the recipe as is the first time and it’s also delicious if you like spiced pumpkin!). Each cookie is 1.5 ounces which makes for a perfect pre-workout snack!

These are sticky before going into the oven but super soft and cookie-like once baked. These have incredible texture – they’re soft and slightly sweet. I’ve made 3 batches in the past 3 weeks and just love feeling like I get to eat a cookie before working out but also knowing that these are little nutritional power houses.

If you use protein powder, what’s your favorite way to use it? I’ve heard of protein ice cream and protein pancakes. I think that sounds pretty awesome! 😀

If not, what are some easy ways you’d use to increase your protein intake?

PS – If you missed it last time on H&S, I reposted the recipe for pelmeni on Russian Bites. Check it out here. :)

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29 Comments so far ↓

  • #1 - elyssa

    those cookies sound like a great idea. im a big fan of brown rice protein – nutribiotic makes one that tastes great. just a thought, if you ever finish your enormous jar of whey!

    when i want to increase my protein intake, i make lots of hearty bean-filled chili. oh and lentil dishes!

  • #2 - Alice

    Whenever I try to get creative with protein powder, I usually fail. So I stick to shakes, and adding it to granola bar recipes.

    Here’s how I get a lot of protein:
    *cottage cheese!!
    *SIAB (I find just milk+protein powder a little hard to swallow – literally)
    *snacks of rolled-up deli meats
    *snacks of little tins of flavoured tuna
    *beef mince/steak/chicken – I know you’re trying to keep meat intake low, but goddamn that stuff packs a huge protein punch
    *eggs & egg whites! Sometimes I eat an egg before an early-morning workout (then eat my proper breakfast after)
    *wholemeal pasta – this stuff has heaps of protein.

    I don’t look at yoghurt or nuts as a terribly high protein source – I mean, yeah they’re good, but not great!

  • #3 - Diana @ frontyardfoodie

    I always add some rice and beans to the mix! Also, dark leavfy greens are loaded. I’m vegan so I definitely need to make sure to eat enough protein while I’m doing weight training or running.

  • #4 - MelissaNibbles

    I love Lean Dessert Vanilla Whipped protein powder. I like to use very little water so it whips up like pudding.
    Egg whites, beans, cottage cheese, deli meat, canned salmon, and canned chicken breast are my fave sources of protein.

  • #5 - Christina

    I use Platinum Hydro Whey in Turbo Chocolate – just blend it up in the blender with a banana, ice and a little skim milk – sometimes will add some almond butter :). I definitely need to try out vanilla – seems way more versatile!

  • #6 - Sarah W.

    1) I JUST re-started NROLFW! I did it earlier this summer but got bored and wasn’t motivated but now I am restarting with Level 1 because its quick, easy and good way to mix things up coming off of my lifting routine for last month :) there are a few levels which are much longer than 30mins for the lifting portion so I may skip those – but for now, its a good guideline

    2) While I do count calories, I try not to be too obsessive about protein/fat/carb ratios because I USED to do that similar to body builder lifting people and its just wayyyy too obsessive for me. I generally get 40-80g protein which I think is just right for me.

    3) easy protein sources:

    beluga lentils
    veggie chili
    black bean soup
    egg white salad w/ chives – this stuff is amazing
    Power Crunch Bars – good for in a pinch when I’ve slacked on prepping meals

    deli turkey meats – I go through phases w/ this b/c i try not to eat alot of meat but on days that I lift I try to eat a little more protein
    babybel light cheese
    cottage cheese – I use the 4oz snack packs – I can only tolerate 4oz cottage cheese at a time
    egg beaters/egg whites/the occasional egg
    Boca Chik’n Patties or Boca Burgers
    Vitalicious Breakfast Egg Sammiches – NEW! I only buy when on sale, and for the occassional treat
    PBJ on arnold sammich thin
    Ezekiel pasta/breads
    Kashi Go Lean w/ Soy Milk

    Lately I’ve been utilizing the crockpot to make huge batches of ground turkey/ground bison/soy crumbles/bean chilis. I like to do the mix of meats/meatless for extra protein boosts :)

    I also did a really yummy pasta e fagioli in the crockpot using ground turkey/tomatoey stuffs/white beans/seasonings

    sooooooooooo easy!

  • #7 - Leaura


    Be careful with mixing too much protein powder in everything; remember, it is packed with calories! Try maybe sticking to using it only in post-lifting recovery meals…? Egg whites are nutritional protein powerhouses, as well as quinoa.

    • #8 - Elina

      No worries, Leaura – I’m still counting calories. And I do shoot for only 1 scoop/day. :)

  • #9 - Eve @ nutritionbyeve

    Those cookies look fabulous! One good way to use protein powder is to stir it into oatmeal at the end of cooking. Great way to boost protein intake! It looks like you got lots of great protein ideas. I concur with eggs and egg whites – I eat them on a daily basis plus low fat and fat free dairy. Lentils are fantastic and really high in protein! Cooking light has an amazing recipe for a roasted vegetable and lentil soup that I make every winter.

  • #10 - Heather

    Oh how I love to create protein recipes! My faves are protein pancakes (3 egg whites, 1/4c of pumpkin, scoop of protein & cinnamon.) Just cook like regular pancakes (though are not a cakey.) You can also use this recipe with any fruit (it’s yummy with apples & strawberries too!)

    Protein “cake” for a fast snack. 1 scoop protein, 1/4-1/2c of pumpkin (yes, addicted) & a bit of water. Mix up & nuke until it puffs up (too long will make it rubbery.) I top it with a drizzle of syrup & cinnamon. SO good!

    Toss a scoop in a smoothie, I also have a banana bread recipe that uses 1/2 flour & 1/2 protein. Hubby loves it!

  • #11 - Liz @ Blog is the New Black

    Protein smoothies for sure!

  • #12 - Corey @ the runner's cookie

    I just ran out of protein powder and need to get more – I wish it weren’t so expensive!
    I make sure I get plenty of protein without eating excessive amounts of meat by stirring in nut butter and an egg into my morning oats (for example), and at lunch and dinner incorporating greek yogurt, beans, chickpeas, quinoa, tofu, etc.
    No Meat Athlete has a lot of great vegetarian recipes and has this post about protein intake for vegetarian athletes:
    Good luck!

  • #13 - Lauren at KeepItSweet

    i’ve added protein powder to my oatmeal in the past – as long as there are other flavors in there and it isn’t just oatmeal + water it tastes good

  • #14 - joanne

    When I was trying to gain weight (oh yeah, those were the days) I used to eat protein powder to sneak more calories into things in a healthy way. I made sooo many shakes and smoothies. Delicious. Cara of Cara’s Cravings is doing a spotlight on how to use protein powder five different ways if you want to check it out!

  • #15 - Runeatrepeat

    Great to meet you this weekend :)
    Sardines scare me! You’re a trooper.

  • #16 - Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday

    Egg whites, tuna, and cottage cheese are all awesome because they are all nearly 100% calories from protein.

  • #17 - sister inna

    i love those sardines too! the spicy ones are the best. i’m kind of addicted to them actually. :)

  • #18 - Erika @ Food.Fitness.Fun

    I try to include a good amount of protein in all of my meals and snacks because it tends to keep me full!

  • #19 - Cara

    Looks like you’ve made great use of your protein powder! Glad it is going well for you :)

  • #20 - Stephanie @cookinfanatic

    I’ve been so scared to try sardines! Lately I’ve seen them around the blog world though and have definitely gotten curious… they can’t be so bad if everyone is eating/loving them! 😀

    • #21 - Elina

      Stephanie – I promise – they’re not scary. Get the kind infused with flavor and it will be even easier as an “entry level” sardine :)

  • #22 - Meghan@travelwinedine

    I definitely know I don’t get enough protein normally. I have started making more dishes with eggs and try to eat more Greek yogurt and cottage cheese. And of course, when I go to events like Foodbuzz Festival, I eat multi-course meals with all sorts of meat and fish :) It’s been a big protein week for me!

  • #23 - Shannon

    yeah so i always say i need to come up with recipes to use protein powder but just end up putting it in smoothies or banana soft serve. my most common ways to boost protein is greek yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs (whites for extra)… all easy as snack options!

  • #24 - MichellePC

    I went to a book reading last week, and the author mentioned that leafy green veggies are one of the best sources for amino acids – which turns into protein in your body!

  • #25 - Rachel

    If you’re concerned about the ethics of eating meat, you should read “The Vegetarian Myth” by Lierre Keith. Animal protein is much higher in the amino acids, vitamins, and minerals your body needs to grow muscles. There are many sources of ethically produced animal products-check out for sources near you. And good luck with your new program :)

    • #26 - Elina

      Rachel – I haven’t heard of that book but it does sound interesting. I’ve heard from many sources that animal protein is superior (easier for your body to process, etc.) but I believe that limiting one’s intake of meat is better for the environment. I eat mostly meat from a meat csa and always organic or at the minimum humainely raised meat. So far, it’s going ok :)

  • #27 - Rachel

    That’s precisely Lierre Keith’s argument, which is why I mentioned the book. The idea that eating meat is worse for the planet than consuming vegetarian products is founded on some highly questionable science…

    • #28 - Elina

      Hmm, ok – I’m skeptical but I’m adding the book to my library list! Thanks for the recommendation. :)

  • #29 - Kerstin

    I’m so interested in what you think of the weight lifting book – I requested it from the library a few weeks ago. Great ideas on adding protein – I need to get better about that since I don’t eat much meat.