Vanilla Caramel Protein Cookies

Are you struggling to get enough protein per day? Or are you just looking for a healthier dessert alternative to satisfy your sweet tooth? If so, this recipe may be perfect for you! 

Vanilla caramel cookies that are only 50 calories each! Not to mention, they have over 6 grams of protein per cookie. You could easily eat the entire batch for only 300 calories and 38 grams of protein. That's better than a cookie you'll find anywhere else! 

A typical chocolate cookie is easily twice as many calories with negligible protein. And the protein cookies on the market? They're no better,! Averaging about 380-400 calories and 16 grams of protein for only one cookie. 

You may be wondering how this recipe is so high in protein, but still lower in calories AND tastes good. The secret ingredient? Beans. Yes, you read that right! Beans not only provide a healthy dose of protein and fiber, but they create an amazing, soft texture that helps form the base of these cookies. It may sound weird, but trust me, it works ;)

Vanilla Caramel Protein Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup white beans, drained and rinsed (navy, garbanzo, butter etc.)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 tbs egg whites (or one fresh egg white)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 scoop of your favorite protein (I used BPI Vanilla Caramel Whey)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Sweetener of choice (optional)*
  • Chocolate chips (optional but highly recommended)

The amount/kind of sweetener you use is really up to you. I have a big sweet tooth so I used about a Tbs of granulated stevia, but if you don't want things as sweet or if your protein is sweet enough as is, feel free to omit.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and coat with nonstick spray.
  2. Blend together beans, pumpkin, egg whites and vanilla. You may need to add a splash of milk to make sure everything is completely smooth. 
  3. Mix in remaining ingredients until fully incorporated.
  4. Spoon on to prepared baking sheet, this made about 6 cookies for me. 
  5. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until no longer wet to touch. DO NOT over bake these as they can get dense/dry depending on the protein powder used. 

That's it! A healthy, high protein sweet treat that is guaranteed to kill those sugar cravings. Feel free to switch up the flavor of protein or add in different mix ins, it's up to you! I hope you give this recipe a try. Enjoy!

~Mandy

Have you Heard of "Zoats"

Have you ever heard of "zoats" AKA zucchini oats? It sounds kind of strange, but zucchini bread works! Adding zucchini to your oats isn't THAT far fetched ;) Who knows, it may just become your new favorite breakfast!

Not only does the zucchini add a great hint of green, but it adds a TON of volume, fiber and nutrients. Zucchinis are very low calorie, containing so saturated fats or cholesterol. They are also a good source of potassium, containing moderate levels of B-complex vitamins like thiamine, pyridoxine, riboflavin and minerals like iron, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc. 

So what are you waiting for? Adding this simple ingredient to your morning bowl of oats will not only make a larger bowl (meaning you can eat less) but it will increase the fiber and nutrient content making you feel fuller longer. And I bet you won't even taste it ;)

Ingredients

  • 1 part oats
  • 2 parts zucchini, shredded
  • 2 parts water
  • Optional mix-ins/toppings:
    • Cinnamon, protein powder, egg whites, nut butters, seeds, fruits, granola, honey etc.

Instructions

  1. Combine oats, zucchini, water and a dash of salt in a small pot over medium heat. I used 1/3 cup oats, 2/3 cup zucchini & 2/3 cup water
  2. Allow to cook, stirring occasionally until water is absorbed. 
  3. Add optional mix-ins and serve with whatever toppings your heart desires!

See, easy! I personally added egg whites and protein powder to this bowl of zoats, along with fresh blueberries and peanut butter on top. This bowl was low in sugar, high in protein and fiber and had me full for hours! It was the perfect pre-workout breakfast. 

Pumpkin (Protein) Gingerbread-men Pancakes

From Christmas lights to holiday music playing on every radio station, it seems like you just can't escape the holiday spirit. But why would you want to? I say breakfast should be no exception! Which is exactly why I decided to make these pancakes in the form of gingerbread men! Aren't they cute? 

Pumpkin (Protein) Gingerbread-men Pancakes

This recipe can also be made in a traditional pancake shape. Gingerbread men just seemed more fun and festive ;)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling!)
  • 6 tbs egg white OR 2 whole eggs
  • 1 scoop cinnamon protein (I used cellucor cinnamon swirl, but any protein powder would work. Different flours should work as well if you don't want "protein pancakes")
  • 1 tbs flax seed meal
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

Directions

  1. Mix together all ingredients.
  2. Lightly grease a large skillet and gingerbread-men molds with cooking spray, butter, oil etc.  
  3. Fill each mold with about 1/4 of pancake mixture.
  4. Add a few drops of water to the edges of the skillet and cover with a lid. This will allow the pancakes to steam and cook a bit faster, making them easier to flip and still hold their shape.
  5. After about 2 minutes, flip your gingerbread men and allow to cook for an additional minute or two.
  6. Serve with blueberry buttons and pumpkin spice eyes (optional, but highly recommended)

Nutrition: (Serves 1) 260 calories 3g fat, 17g carbs & 39g protein

This recipe is super easy to make, adorable AND good for you! The protein in these pancakes will easily keep you full until your next meal and give you plenty of energy to get through your day. I hope you enjoy and happy holidays :)

~Mandy

A Guide to All Things Protein Powder

Protein is one of the three macronutrients, among fat and carbohydrates,  that are essential in order for the body to function properly. Unfortunately, many people often consume much less protein than needed. (Check out this blog post to figure out how much protein you need) 

An easy way to increase the amount of protein you consume is through the use of protein powders. Just one scoop can yield anywhere from 15-30 grams of protein! But which protein powder should you choose? There is a myriad of protein powders out there and they are not all created equally. In order to help, I have created this simple guide  to help you choose the  protein that best fits you and your goals. 

1. Whey Protein

Whey protein is derived from milk and is arguably the most popular variety of protein powder on the market. Whey is quickly absorbed by the body and thus excellent taken post-workout. It is also inexpensive and tastes great! When buying whey protein, look at the ingredient list. Depending on the brand, many whey proteins may have a bunch of artificial sweeteners and chemicals that give it that great "red velvet cheesecake" flavor.

Unfortunately, there are quite a few people with lactose intolerance and dairy allergies that should stay away from whey protein as it may cause digestive problems. 

2. Casein Protein

Casein protein is also derived from milk and offers similar benefits as whey. However, casein digests over a longer period of time (about 5-7 hours) making it ideal for a meal replacement rather than taken post-workout. Casein is also less soluble in liquids than whey, making it slightly more difficult to drink when mixed with water, but great in recipes!

As with whey, because casein protein is derived from milk, it is not suitable for individuals with lactose intolerance or those wishing to avoid animal products.

3. Soy Protein

Soy protein is one of the few plant-based complete proteins and a great alternative to whey or casein for those who avoid dairy and/or animal products. However soy protein often has a strange flavor and is highly processed. If you choose to use soy protein, look for soy protein isolate, as it contains more protein, isoflavones, and less cholesterol and fat than soy protein concentrate.

4. Pea Protein

Pea protein is another plant-based protein that often contains very few additives and artificial ingredients, making it very close to its whole-food source. Unlike soy however, pea protein is deficient in certain amino acids, making it an incomplete source of protein. If you choose to use pea protein, make sure to consume other sources of protein as well. 

5. Hemp Protein

Hemp contains all 21 of the essential amino acids, making it another plant-based complete protein source. Hemp also contains a mix of essential fatty-acids (omega-6) and has a high fiber content, leading many people to refer to it as a "superfood". Thanks to the high fiber content of hemp, some studies suggest that it may even be helpful for weight loss. 

Unfortunately, due to hemp being derived from the seeds of the cannabis plant, it is only harvested in mass quantities in select countries, making it extremely expensive. 

6. Weight Gainers/Mass Gainers/Meal Replacements etc.

These are often blends of protein (usually whey) and high-carbohydrate ingredients used to replace meals and/or consume more calories than can be done with food alone. These are usually consumed by athletes with high energy requirements that have difficulty consuming enough food for their intense training. As expected, they are often full of additives, artificial sweeteners and chemicals to help bring the calorie counts up. 

 This one has 1,300 calories per serving! Compared to the 90-150 calories in other protein powders.

This one has 1,300 calories per serving! Compared to the 90-150 calories in other protein powders.

These products can be great for someone who struggles putting on or maintaining their weight through food alone. But consuming these products will not necessarily increase muscle mass. In fact, the extra calories in these shakes can lead to fat gain if consumed in excess and if training/exercise does not match consumption.

Well there you have it, a simple guide to protein powders. I hope this was informative and lessened some of the confusion. Now you can go out and choose the best protein powder for you!

~Mandy