Protein Ninja, by Terry Home Romero, everything-you-need-to-know rundown on plant-based protein sources — and its chapters like Stealthy Protein Pancakes, Waffles, Scrambles, and Much, Much More; Super Toast: Savory or Sweet; and Better Than Ever Burger Bowls will soon have you sneaking plant-based protein into your breakfasts, dinners, and everything in between.
A Protein Ninja Primer
Plant-based protein powders play a little by their own rules. While they look like flour (sort of), they behave quite unlike flours and have their own unique quirks. The taste and texture of recipes made with them require some getting used to. And you’ll just have to go ahead and make some recipes with them, as all the writing in the world can’t prepare you. However, I can prepare you with a few essential tips for working with protein powders.
Not every single recipe in this book uses plant-based protein powders, but a lot of them sure do, especially the baked goods. So, please read the following carefully!
Protein Powders Change the Taste and Texture of Things
The recipes in this book make tasty waffles, biscuits, cookies, and burgers. But it’s worth mentioning that the taste and texture may be a little different than what you’re used to.
Pea protein powder has the most pronounced flavor, with mellow chickpea-like notes that I think is best suited for savory baked goods and burgers. The texture is perhaps the densest of the three powders.
It’s not unlike working with garbanzo bean flour, only with a much finer texture.
When it comes to baked goods that could probably pass for “not swole,” a.k.a. your regular friends that would rather wear spandex leggings to a hair metal concert than to the gym, the mild flavor and slightly grainy texture of brown rice protein powder wins every time. It’s my go-to when I want waffles and biscuits that don’t look or taste “healthy,” but just hearty. Not unlike brown rice flour, it has a slightly gritty texture.
Hemp protein powder is by far the earthiest of the three and lends a light olive green hue to baked goods, especially those made with light-colored flours. But there’s a pay-off to that funky hue! It has an appealing nutty flavor and texture, similar to that of finely ground flaxseed, which plays well with a wide range of whole grains and flours, nuts, seeds, and fruits. Not to mention, it can add a boatload of healthful fiber to recipes. Hemp protein has become my go-to protein powder when developing wholesome new recipes. And while I usually opt for unsweetened products, I can get down with lightly sweetened chocolate and vanilla hemp powders.
Protein Powders are Thirsty
They may look like flour, but protein powders seem to suck up more liquid than most flours of similar weight and volume. Adding a small portion of dense, moist ingredients mashed banana, applesauce, beans, pureed winter squash, even mashed sweet potatoes to a protein-rich baked good or veggie burger provides some much needed moisture and evens out the flavor. Bananas are my favorite in these recipes for their egg-like binding properties, but applesauce and cooked winter squash are very helpful.
Protein Powders Should Be Unsweetened, Unflavored and Simple
I buy all kinds of vegan protein powders. Since entering the weekly gym habit of lifting heavy things, I’ve become an enthusiast of all the interesting meal-replacement, richly flavored, and vitamin- enhanced powders on the market.
Chocolate-flavored powders especially have been my friend when I’m traveling and the nutritious vegan options are slim but I know that a powder and my shaker bottle, ice, and some water will help me get through to the next feasible meal.
However, for the majority of recipes in this book (with the exception of, say, the smoothie bowls), use only pure, unflavored, unenriched (that is, no added vitamins) plant-based protein powders. Powders of your concern should be unflavored plain hemp, brown rice, and pea protein. Not only does the neutral flavor of these powders blend well in recipes, but the price point on these is much lower than their high-performance, fancy-flavored cousins.
Trading Powdery Places
Browsing through the recipes, you’ll see that each recipe asks for a particular kind of protein power. Well, one of the three I recommend using: hemp, brown rice, and pea.
These are suggestions only! While I did select the protein powder for each recipe with a particular complementary flavor in mind, you’re welcome to try your hand at switching out one for another. In most cases, your muffins will rise; burgers will hold together, waffles will waffle, and so on.
You will notice differences, however: hemp protein powder leaves a greenish tinge, brown rice protein powder has a somewhat gritty texture, pea protein is perhaps the densest of the three, and so forth.
If you do switch out and experiment, be smart about it and take notes! Maybe you’ll hack these recipes to a new level of greatness.
More from Protein Ninja:
From Protein Ninja: Power through Your Day with 100 Hearty Plant-Based Recipes that Pack a Protein Punch by Terry Hope Romero. Reprinted courtesy of Da Capo Lifelong Books, 2016. Buy this book from our store: Protein Ninja.