Key in building muscle and burning fat, protein powers our bodies and can have myriad health benefits, if it’s clean and lean (USDA recommends a lean protein intake of 5 ½ oz/day, which females on average aren’t meeting). Protein powder, especially plant-based versions, are an easy way to get more protein in your diet without the drawbacks of overdoing it on meat and dairy.
Unfortunately, the supplement—long associated with meal-replacing smoothies—lacks appeal: seen as a utilitarian, gross-tasting supplement for vegans, weightlifters and brides-to-be, protein powder is often derided by foodies and regular folk alike who prefer to get their protein from “real food." (See 7 Foods With More Protein Than A Chicken Breast.)
It's time to give protein powder a second chance. It now comes in a variety of forms and flavors, from whey to pea to hemp, punches above its weight when it comes to its versatility in the kitchen, and can be economical and environmentally friendly if you choose organic and plant-based. (Read up on 5 Rules for Buying a Legitimately Healthy Organic Protein Powder.) Here are 9 recipes for meals, sweets and snacks that allow you to reap the benefits of a high-protein diet without compromising on taste, texture or health: