Homemade Whole-Protein Supplement
We previously compared differences between processed protein that comes from whey (cheese), casein (milk), soy (soybeans), hemp (cannabis), peas or other vegetables. Isolating the protein within foods and separating it from other compounds creates a higher concentration of protein. The downside is that symbiotic nutrient relationships are disrupted. This can hinder efficient absorption into our bodies. The other issue with buying powder is oxidation, which further reduces potency over time.
Some things occurred to me as I was adding scoops of protein isolate powder to my smoothies. First, commercial powder is expensive. Second, the NutriBullet is capable of blending whole nuts, seeds, ice and just about whatever else you pack into it.
This lightbulb moment motivated me to exchange my two-pound $40 tub of protein powder for three pounds of raw almonds and a pound of dried split peas. Thank you cashier for my $22.25 credited change. Had I not purchased flaxseed and chia seeds on my previous trip, it would have been an even trade. Both seeds provide essential omega 3 and a long list of other healthy nutrients.
How To Make Your Own Protein Powder
Dry sources of protein blend together best. The end result should taste like something you actually want to add to your smoothie. Nuts have much protein, with almonds being some of the driest. It will make little difference if combinations tend to clump like clay if immediately combined with other smoothie ingredients.
A full 1/4 cup of green peas contains significant protein but even a full tablespoon can dominate the flavor of a smoothie. So tap into its tremendous nutritional value in moderation. (Tip: Add powdered dried peas to soups as a thickening agent.) Flaxseed and chia seeds are good protein sources, additionally, they are high in fiber, omega 3 and other essential nutrients. Carob chips* can be included to impart a cocoa flavor, though they increase powder clumping. Cardamom provides a pleasant flavor and is also packed with nutrients. In proper proportion, the combination is quite palatable.
What do you think of these candidates for protein powder? Since this will, in most cases, be added to a smoothie, it has a flavor compatible with greens, kale, carrots and/or blueberries. Here is a recipe for homemade protein powder that I have begun to use in some of my smoothies.
Easy Peasy Protein Ingredients
With great variation for weight, age and daily activity, the average 128-pound sedentary woman (13<70 yrs) requires 46 grams of daily protein. This recipe offers about 17 grams of protein and other essential nutrients. You can refrigerate individual pre-portioned unblended protein packs within zippered plastic bags or simply scoop into your blender (food processor) in the morning just before adding other ingredients for your smoothie, even add your daily vitamins for extra fortification.
Using the NutriBullet, I attach the milling blade assembly to combine all ingredients together for half a minute (clockwise twist) and then pulse blend (short presses on top) until all the chunks become powder. Remove the milling blade and add smoothie liquid ingredients (fruit, liquid, ice) before screwing on the extractor blade. (If you only have the extractor blade, that’s fine too.) Shake well and blend until smooth. Makes one serving.
Keep it Healthy and Tasty
Preliminary studies show that flaxseed may help fight heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. Although flaxseed contains all sorts of healthy components, it owes its primary healthy reputation to three of them:
- Omega-3 essential fatty acids, “good” fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.
- Lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flaxseed contains 75 to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods.
- Fiber. Flaxseed contains both the soluble and insoluble types.
Chia seeds have incredible nutrient density. A small study (11 overweight postmenopausal women) led by Dr. David Nieman, Director of the Human Performance Lab at Appalachian State University suggests that grinding chia seeds helps the body reap greater nutritional benefits from them, perhaps by increasing their so-called “bioavailability.” At the end of a 10-week period, the subjects who received ground chia seeds had higher blood levels of both ALA and EPA. Previous trials have reported similar results from ground flaxseed compared with whole flaxseed. When compared to other brands Lifemax Mila chia seeds are very high in ALA, mineral content, protein and fiber. —The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. July 2012, 18(7): 700-708. doi:10.1089/acm.2011.0443.
Addition of flaxseed and chia seeds turns our protein powder into a superfood to make you A Bit More Healthy. These seeds are packed with nutrition but unless our digestive juices can break through their outer shell, most will just pass through our digestive system as waste—or get lodged in diverticula. That’s why they are powdered before blending into smoothies. It is worth noting, however, that the NutriBullet can pulverize flaxseed even when suspended within liquids.
If you have a mighty blender, resist the urge to blend everything in the refrigerator just because you can. Speaking from personal experience, it can lead to some distasteful concoctions. For more recipes, follow the Desserts, Sweets & Smoothies and Soup to Nuts boards on Pinterest.