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Ask The Protein Powder Chef: What Can I Do With Veggie Protein?

Quick to pass on pea protein? Not a fan of shakes rich in rice? Rethink your stance and learn how to make the most of veggie protein—recipes included!

I'm a diehard whey fan, but I see more people recommending pea and other veggie proteins.
Do these have any value for baking?

I suspect that the majority of people who purchase veggie protein powders do it—at least initially—because they feel like they have to. Maybe they're lactose intolerant, follow a strict vegan diet, or they simply swear by plant-based products. Whey lovers, on the other hand, tend to dismiss veggie protein powders as a subpar source of protein.

Case in point: I recently asked my friend Steve if he would consider swapping his whey for some of my veggie powders. He gave me a resolute, "Hell naw." As he put it: "The amino acid profile of pea, rice, and hemp protein powders isn't as high as that of whey. Also, protein shakes made with veggie protein powders don't taste half as good as those made with whey."

I took his rejection of my veggie powders as a challenge. If I could convince Steve, who knows? Maybe I could convince you skeptics out there to give veggie protein a shot too!

So, here goes: Compared to whey, protein shakes made with veggie protein powders aren't as creamy, smooth, or milkshake-y. But you know what? That's fine! Shakes aren't where veggie protein powders shine. They reign over protein baking!

Not Your Garden Variety Protein

Veggie protein has a totally different consistency than whey or casein. Instead of becoming sticky when you add liquid to them, veggie proteins absorb the liquid. This means that protein foods made with veggie powders seldom become rubbery or dry, like dairy-based proteins tend to do. Instead, veggie proteins retain a lot of moisture, which lends great body to cakes, muffins, and breads.

As for whey lovers' concerns about veggies' amino acid shortcomings, I would answer that this minor gap is easily filled—with actual food. Take, for example, rice protein powder, which has an incomplete amino acid profile because it's low in lysine.

However, when you add lysine-rich foods like milk, cheese, eggs, or beans to a recipe, you end up with a more complete protein source. Prefer pea protein powder? Make up for its low cysteine percentage by incorporating cysteine-containing food like eggs, yogurt, or oats.

Looking to stick solely to powders? No problem. Mix together rice and pea protein powder, or try one of the new generations of plant proteins containing both for a more complete nutritional profile.

Finally, the flavors of various veggie protein powders often complement other ingredients, making for unusually delicious protein baking. Pea protein, for example, goes well with coconut flour and banana, and rice protein powder mixes well with chocolate and vanilla for moist protein brownies, cakes, and muffins.

However, not all veggie proteins go down so easily. For example, baking with hemp protein powder is tricky because of the strong flavor, so I use it primarily in really rich, dark chocolate cakes—you know, the kind that are especially gorgeous when topped with protein ice cream.

Take it from me: Veggie protein powders have a lot to offer, especially when it comes to cooking. Still don't believe me? I'll let these recipes do the talking.

Banana, Pecan, and Vanilla Protein Muffins

Banana, Pecan and Vanilla Protein Muffins

  1. Combine all ingredients and divide into 9 silicone muffin cases.
  2. Bake in pre-heated 350 F oven for 35 minutes.

When ready, take them out of the oven. You'll notice that they're really soft and super moist. They can be topped with Greek yogurt, bananas, cinnamon, or any of your other favorite toppings: jam, nut butter, fruit, or protein frosting. The possibilities are endless!

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 muffin (not including toppings)
Amount per serving
Calories 95.1
Total Fat 3.8g
Total Carbs 7.4g
Protein 8.1g

Banana, Pecan, and Vanilla Protein Muffins PDF (125 KB)

My Hawaiian Protein Pizza

Hawaiian Protein Pizza

Ingredients for the Pizza Base
  1. Blend all the ingredients together.
  2. Spray a non-stick pan with some PAM or coconut oil. Get the pan super hot.
  3. Pour in the batter and lower your heat to medium. You're basically making a pancake here!
  4. Once the first side has cooked, flip it.
  5. Remove from the heat and add your pizza toppings. Begin with a tomato paste base (or ketchup). Add on the sliced ham, pineapple, cheese, and whatever herbs you like. I used fresh rosemary and oregano on mine.
  6. Once your pizza is topped, stick it under the grill or oven broiler until the cheese has melted. You can spray the naked edges of the pizza with some more PAM to make it crunchy or, if you have a kitchen brush, dab on some extra olive oil.
  7. Demolish your pizza!

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 pizza base (recipe makes one)(not including toppings):
Amount per serving
Calories 331
Total Fat 9.8g (1.6g saturated)
Total Carbs 19.7g (2.5g fiber)
Protein 36.6g

My Hawaiin Protein Pizza PDF (180 KB)