10 Ways to Add Protein to Your Smoothies Without Using Protein Powder

Protein powders are an easy and convenient way to boost the protein content of your smoothies and there is no lack of options to choose from. However, sometimes you want to go au natural and focus on using whole foods. Good news! Here are 10 ways to add protein to your smoothies without using protein powder.


Protein-Rich Bases


Starting with a protein rich base is a foolproof way to boost the protein content of your smoothie. Milks and yogurts can add up to 15 grams of protein per serving depending on what option you choose. Here are some pointers to keep in mind:


  1. Soy milk, cow’s milk or protein enriched nut milks: Not all milks are created equal and contrary to popular belief, almond milk and coconut have little to no protein unless the label specifically states that they are protein-enriched. Read the nutrition facts panel and choose a milk with 5 or more grams of protein per serving.


  1. Greek yogurt or soy yogurt: Greek yogurt contains more protein per serving than regular yogurt (an average of 15 grams per 5 ounce container) and also contains beneficial probiotics for a healthy gut. If you are avoiding dairy, soy yogurt can also be a good choice but as with the various milk options, not all non-dairy yogurts are created equal either. Read the label and choose one with at least 5 grams of protein per serving.


Protein-Rich Add-Ins


  1. Beans: Beans are an excellent source of plant-based protein, fiber, and B vitamins and work great in smoothies. Try blending black beans into a chocolate flavored smoothie or cannellini beans into a smoothie with a vanilla base. One-half cup of beans has an average of 6 grams of protein.


  1. Green peas: Frozen green peas are another protein-packed add-in and one of my personal favorites. Beans and peas make smoothies nice and creamy and I promise you won’t notice them. 2/3 of cup of green peas has just 70 calories and 5 grams of protein.10 ways to add protein to smoothies green peas






  1. Quinoa: This pseudo-grain (it is actually a seed) is one of the few plant sources of complete protein, meaning it has all of the essential amino acids your body needs. Use leftover cooked quinoa to thicken and add protein to your smoothies along with fiber, which will keep you feeling full.


  1. Tofu: The other plant source of complete protein is tofu. Tofu blends up nicely and adds a creamy texture. Beware that tofu has a distinctive taste, a pleasant one in my opinion, but if you aren’t used to it than choose silken tofu which has a very mild taste. Tofu ranges in firmness as well as protein content so experiment and find the one you enjoy most.


  1. Seeds: While some seeds are obvious, others may not yet be in your smoothie repertoire. Hemp seeds packed a powerful protein punch with 2 tablespoons containing 11 grams of omega-3 rich protein. Chia seeds and pumpkin seeds are other good choices. For the chia, try soaking them in water for 20 minutes before adding to your smoothie as they form a gel and will make your smoothie nice and thick. Seeds are also an excellent source of healthy fats and filling fiber.10 ways to add protein to smoothies hemp hearts





  1. Oats: A half-cup of oats will add 5 grams of protein to your smoothie. Soaking them overnight or for a few hours will make them blend easily and helps thicken your smoothie will adding a pleasant “oat-y” taste.


  1. Cottage cheese and ricotta cheese: If you don’t mind dairy, cottage cheese and ricotta cheese are packed with high quality protein. Cottage cheese in particular contains a high proportion of the milk protein casein, which is digested slowly meaning it will keep you feeling full for hours.


  1. Nuts and nut butters: Last but not least, nuts and nut butters can add protein, vitamin E, healthy fats, and of course an undeniably scrumptious taste! However if you don’t want your smoothie to be super high in calories, do keep portions in check as nuts and nut butters are calorically dense and if you are like me, it is easy to over-do them.


Protein Rich Powder Free Smoothie Combinations


Here are a couple of ideas to get you started making protein rich smoothies using only whole foods:


  • Use 1 cup Greek yogurt (15 grams protein), half a cup of soaked oats (5 grams of protein), frozen cherries, 2 tablespoons of chia seeds (3 grams of protein), and 2 packed cups of kale (6 grams of protein) and you have about 30 grams of protein!
  • Use 1 cup of soy milk (8 grams of protein), 2 tablespoons hemp seeds (11 grams protein), 2/3 cup green peas (5 grams of protein), 1 frozen banana, ½ cup frozen mango, and 2 packed cups of kale (6 grams of protein) and you have about 30 grams of protein!


You get the idea so have fun experimenting and creating protein-rich smoothies from whole foods. What is your favorite combination?





  1. srcitizen says:

    Ideas I never would have thought! Thanks fro great info.

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