The main problem with protein powders is they may contain sugars, artificial flavoring, thickeners and added vitamins and minerals. Additionally, protein powders can be expensive. Are you trying to find a substitute for protein powder in smoothies? Have a look at our list below.
Top 14 Substitutes for Protein Powder in Smoothies
1. Hemp hearts/ seeds - Protein: 10g per a serving.
Well first things first! Let’s differentiate between hemp hearts and hemp seeds. Hemp hearts are the de-hulled version of hemp seeds. The hemp hearts are not as hard and crunchy as hemp seeds. I usually use hemp hearts in my protein shake smoothie recipes.
2. Chia seeds - Protein: 5g for 2.5 tablespoons
Chia is the ancient Mayan word for strength. This seed was an important food for the Mayan and Aztecs.
Chia seeds are a great addition to your smoothie. They not only have the ability to thicken your smoothie but they also contain antioxidants, omega-3, magnesium, manganese and other nutrients.
3. Almonds - Protein: 3g for 12 nuts
Almonds are any other type of nut is a great way to get your protein fix. Our favourite nuts for smoothies are almonds and cashews. Almonds not only provide you with a daily dose of protein but they also contain vitamin e, manganese and magnesium.
4. Nut or seed butter - Protein Content: 7 g for 2 tablespoons
Nut butter has gone mainstream in the last few years and you can basically find nut butters for any type of nut.
Some of the nut butters that readily come to mind are almond butter, cashew butter, brazil nut butter, coconut butter, hazelnut butter, macadamia butter, peanut butter, pecan butter, pistachio butter, pinenut butter, and walnut butter.
An added benefit of adding nut butters to your smoothies is you get additional vitamins and minerals. You can learn about the protein content for nut butters here.
5. Lentils - Protein Content: 12 g per ½ cup
I was a bit hesitant when I added lentils on this list. However, in hindsight they are perfect. They have a mild flavor that can be easily disguised by the other items in your smoothie and they are packed with protein.
It is recommended that you use red lentils since their color won’t give your smoothie a funky color. To prepare lentils simply boil in water for around 15 minutes.
The fact that they are cooked will give your smoothie a smoother texture. One last tip: make sure you chill the lentils after cooking. After all you are making a protein smoothie not warm soup.
If you have any unused portions you can store them in your freezer and use as needed. If you would like to look at a few recipes with lentils have a look at the Eating well site.
6. Beans - Protein Content: 8g per ½ cup
Beans are another plant based protein you can add to your smoothie. I was a bit hesitant at first but beans have a mild flavour, add a nice creamy taste to your smoothie and give you added fiber.
You can use tinned or dried beans. I prefer dried beans. You can boil the beans and then add them to your smoothie. A few beans you can use in smoothies are white beans or black beans.
7. Spirulina - Protein Content: 4g per 1 tablespoon
Spirulina is a blue green algae and is loaded with nutrients and antioxidants. It not only contains protein but also iron, vitamin b1, b2 and b3 and copper.
The problem with Spirulina however, is you can’t use too much in your smoothies. Trust me on this, if you use too much your smoothie can end up tasting like pond scum!
8. Flax Seeds - Protein Content: 1.9g per 1 tablespoon
Even if you are not concerned about the protein content, flax seeds are a great addition to your breakfast smoothie.
However, remember to grind them before use. Flax seeds are also a great way to thicken your smoothies.
9. Pumpkin Seeds - Protein Content: 7g per 2 tablespoons
When using pumpkin seeds in your smoothie use pumpkin seeds without the shell.
Pumpkin seeds have a very mild taste and can be easily disguised in your smoothie. An added plus is they make a great standalone snack.
10. Quinoa Protein Content: 4.4 g per 1 cup of quinoa
Quinoa is one of my favourite foods. I tend to use it as a rice substitute; however, there is no reason why you can’t use it in smoothies.
Remember you have to cook the quinoa. Alternatively, you can also use quinoa puffs in your smoothie.
11. Greek Yogurt - Protein Content: 24g per 1 cup
Greek yogurt is one of my favourite additions to my smoothies. I prefer plain greek yogurt. It’s a great thickener for your smoothie and combines well with such fruits as mangos or pineapples (frozen fruit works). Additionally, greek yogurt contains more protein than normal yogurt.
12. Cottage Cheese - Protein Content: 28g per 1 cup
I am pretty sure cottage cheese is not the first thing you think of when you think of smoothies. It is an unusual addition to smoothies but it can be used.
As a matter of fact we recommend it as a replacement for yogurt in smoothies.
If you want to make a smoothie recipe that tastes like a strawberry milkshake add cottage cheese, nut milk, strawberries, vanilla and honey as a sweetener.
13. Sunflower Seeds - Protein Content: 5.5g - ¼ cup
You can purchase shelled or unshelled sunflower seeds. For smoothies we recommend shelled sunflower seeds.
The beauty of sunflower seeds is they have a mild flavour and can be easily disguised in smoothies.
14. Kefir - Protein Content: 11g per a cup
Kefir is one of my favorite drinks. I refer to it as liquid yogurt. Kefir is a fermented drink that is made by adding kefir grains to cows or goats milk. The result is a tart, tangy drink with a creamy yogurt-like texture. Kefir mixes well with such frozen fruits as mango, banana, blueberry, pineapple, peach, frozen berries, papaya, grapes, watermelon, blackberries, or raspberries.
In Conclusion, Substitute for Protein Powder in Smoothies
I hope you found our list helpful. If you don;t want to use protein powders in your smoothies there are a number of options. Is there anything else you think we could have added to our list? Let us know.