Protein Ninja ReviewMarch 08, 2016
I never really thought about how much protein I got in my diet. I knew everyone liked to ask me how...
I never really thought about how much protein I got in my diet. I knew everyone liked to ask me how I got my protein, but since it's obviously in things like seeds, nuts, whole grains and beans, things I eat tons of, I never really cared how much I got. I just knew that I got it. I suppose the idea of protein for most people is to build muscle, and to do that you need more protein than your average vegan probably gets. To be honest, I've been working out regularly for a few years now, and haven't really noticed any muscle growth, my workouts never really get easier, and I don't see much in the way of results. Since I do a variety of yoga, weightlifting, cardio and circuit training, I feel like there's something wrong if I'm not seeing results. Is more protein the answer? Probably.
I would probably have bought this book even if I never picked up a dumbbell in my life. I love Terry's recipes, I have all her previous cookbooks, and I pretty much just trust her. So I just jumped in! The recipes call for specific different protein powders: Brown Rice Protein, Pea Protein, Hemp Protein and simple chocolate or vanilla vegan protein powders. The reason for this is when baking or cooking, protein powder does not really behave the same way flour does. It soaks up more moisture and has different textures. Each protein powder does more or less of this, and certain powders are appropriate in recipes where certain ones aren't. It was a bit of a splurge, but like I said -- I just trust her.
A lot of people don't like to use protein powders because they are processed and have chemical ingredients. I was able to find all three special types in their pure, one-ingredient form. I have been using the Vega Sport vanilla and chocolate recovery powders for a few years and think they taste okay in smoothies, don't have too many ingredients, and fit my need for basic vanilla/chocolate vegan protein powders.
The first thing I made was granola. I began with the Trail Mix Protein Granola, which made at least 8 cups of granola. I ate some every day and it lasted two weeks. Also, making homemade granola is like the best scented candle for your house. I ate some plain, but mostly just used it to top my smoothie bowls! The smoothie bowls are the best part of this book! Smoothies in a bowl topped with all sorts of wonderful toppings! Who knew? Most people besides me, I think, but this was a revelation in my smoothie-making morning routine. My favorite smoothie bowl is the Chocolate Avocado Smoothie Bowl. It's frozen bananas, frozen avocados, a little almond milk, protein powder, 2 dates, some chia seeds and some vanilla. Once it's thick but smooth, scoop it into a bowl, and top with your favorite toppings. My favorite toppings are granola, chocolate covered chia seeds, berries, and depending on the type of smoothie bowl, I have been digging drizzling some bee-free honey over the top.
She gives 4 basic template bowls, and for each she provides about 4 variations. This one is the peanut butter and strawberry bowl. It has frozen bananas and strawberries with almond milk, protein powder, vanilla and peanut butter. The bowls without avocado aren't as pudding-like, but more smoothie-like. Still fun to eat, though.
A great variation on the chocolate avocado bowl is to simply add greens. For this one I added kale and some spirulina powder. Other days I added just spirulina and it tasted mostly the same.
This one is the Matcha Latte Bowl, with Matcha (obv), protein powder, frozen bananas, almond milk, and vanilla. I topped with granola, blueberries, bee-free honey, white chia seeds, and sprinkled some more matcha powder on top.
I finally tried making acai bowls! This one has an acai frozen smoothie pack, frozen avocado, frozen banana protein powder and almond milk. You would be surprised how much it tastes like chocolate! It definitely has that pudding-texture which can't be beat in smoothie bowls.
I loaded this bowl with so many toppings that you can barely even see it! It's the Chai Latte Bowl with frozen bananas, protein powder, chai spices, and almond milk. It was the best with some bee-free honey. I don't think I ever put it in a chai latte before, but when have you ever been able to order a chai latte sweetened with bee-free honey? Someone should get on that.
When my stash of granola was wearing thin, I made a new batch, this time the Chocolate Hazelnut Hemp Granola. It is so good and I still have so much left. I think I made it two weeks ago. I also switched out blueberries for strawberries because I can't wait until June to eat strawberries. I was particularly stoked to eat my chocolate avocado smoothie bowl that morning not only because I got to top it with my new fresh granola, but also because I had replenished my stash of chocolate-covered chia seeds.
Okay, okay last smoothie bowl. This one is one of the best though! It's the Pumpkin Pie Smoothie Bowl, and it's got frozen bananas, almond milk, protein powder, vanilla, pumpkin and pumpkin pie spices. I ate it with unseasonal strawberries in the zombie spring.
Flipping through the book, the thing I was second-most stoked to try were the burger bowls. I remember crumbling many a beast burger over some salad this summer during my salad-reign-of-terror, and with some mustard and avocado, it was surprisingly awesome. So I began with the Black Bean Hemp Burger Bowls. The burgers have a variety of nuts and seeds, as well as the black beans and hemp protein, but are rolled in a corn-chip coating before being baked. The rest of the bowl has "refried corn quinoa" and a mango-onion salsa. This whole thing was a little dry for me, and I mostly just ate all the mango and then picked at the rest. B- on the Burger, itself.
Burger Bowl, in concept, sounds great. But the burgers are enough work on their own, and making the fixings for the sides was a ton of work too, and since it didn't really come together for me, I just made burgers with the rest. My burgers always go like this: Toasted Bun, chipotle vegenaise, spinach, tomato, guac and Chao cheese. I enjoyed the burgers much better this way.
I decided to make the Green-Goddess Burgers next. I made the special Cashew-Hemp Green Goddess dressing too, even though I didn't make the bowl to go with it. I just topped my burger with it instead of chipotle vegenaise. Note to everyone, this is always a mistake. Never skip the chipotle vegenaise. The dressing was so-so.. The burger was made from crumbled tofu and cooked chopped spinach, hemp protein and a number of nuts and seeds. I will be honest, this burger was just bad. The texture was really miserable, and I couldn't eat another one the next day.
In the morning when I wake up, the first thing I try to do is my workout. This sometimes sucks and is hard for me to lift weights and have proper energy without any fuel in me first. I made these "Chocolate Almond Cookie Balls" with cocoa powder, hemp protein, almonds, almond milk, and not much else. To call them a cookie is just blasphemy. If you gave this to a child, they would throw it at you. It's more true-to-itself when you call it a "protein ball." I started popping a protein ball before working out so that I'm not running on empty while I'm trying to do burpees and other bullshit of the like.
You guys. I have never made biscuits and gravy before. Why is this the case? These were so amazing. I ate 2 1/2 of these! These are the "Fluffy Rice Protein Biscuits" which I cut instead of dropped, with brown rice protein, flour, baking soda, and normal biscuit ingredients. Then I made the Tempeh Apple Sausage Patties. They had tempeh, kidney beans, diced green apple and some garbanzo bean flour with some smoked paprika. The main event here is the "Button-Up White Bean Gravy." It's mushrooms and onions cooked down with broth and white beans, some spices, pureed up and seriously my favorite gravy I've ever made!
There are still a lot of recipes I want to try. I definitely want to make some scones, muffins and brownies! There's a huge section with more breakfast food like this, with protein pancakes, protein waffles, more biscuits, more bacon, more sausage, more good stuff! There's also a huge section of toasts! Basically there's a ton of savory toasts with all sorts of things, spreads that are packed with protein, but also sweet toasts with interesting spreads too. I think so far 75% of the recipes I've tried have been really good, so I'm giving it a big thumbs up. Hopefully I'll be able to flex something soon.