Plant-based protein powders are hugely popular right now, and not just among vegans. Whey protein can be hard to digest, which means even omnivores may prefer to supplement their diets with vegan protein.
Whether you’re full vegan or just making the switch for digestive reasons, you’ve probably already noticed that vegan protein has a particular texture and flavor that isn’t, shall we say, “appealing.” (Having tried both, I can say that I strongly prefer vegan powders to whey on taste alone, but that’s not saying much.) Thankfully, that’s pretty easy to change. Here’s how.
Plant-based protein powders are notoriously gritty, so your regular shaker bottle probably won’t cut it. Use a blender or stick blender instead—they’ll dissolve every last bit of powder so your drink is perfectly smooth. If you have one, a digital kitchen scale is also clutch. Vegan protein powders are a lot clumpier than whey, which means those pre-measured scoops aren’t super accurate. A scale helps you nail the dose every time and adjust it to suit your needs.
It sounds counterintuitive, but the easiest way to make protein shakes taste better is to focus on temperature and texture. Aromatic compounds are less noticeable when they’re cold, so if you’re really struggling with the flavor of your protein shakes, try making them as cold as possible. Blending in a few ice cubes or just pouring the finished drink over ice both work great. Don’t try to blitz up ice cubes with your stick blender, though—it’ll explode all over your kitchen.
Texture also makes a huge difference in how palatable something is. Vegan protein drinks are almost always thicker than their whey-based counterparts, and personally, I can’t hang. Thick, sludge-y textures make me gag, so I use almost double the recommended amount of water. If you’d rather drink a small amount of something thick, just use less water. It’s all about what’s easiest for you.
The worst part of flavored protein powders is the stevia used to sweeten them, at least in my opinion. It adds a lingering aftertaste that I really don’t enjoy, and the easiest way to cover it up is by adding some actual sugar. I usually use about a tablespoon (or 16 grams) of brown sugar per roughly 40-gram serving of powder, but you can—and should—adjust it to taste. White sugar, powdered sugar, honey, or maple syrup would all be good, too.
Salt may not solve every culinary problem, but it’s not far off. I season my protein drinks with a generous pinch each of salt and powdered citric acid, and I recommend doing the same. These two really smooth out the rough edges, so to speak, but you can add any other seasonings you like. If you usually buy vanilla-flavored protein, try a splash of actual vanilla extract; if you prefer chocolate, add some extra cocoa powder. The more you experiment, the easier it’ll be to find your perfect blend.
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