Food & Fitness

Substitution for Protein Powders

I’m confident that we can all get enough of the macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats) in our diet just by eating real, all-natural, whole foods. I’m not big on supplementation and protein powders and the like. Besides the fact that I don’t want to be consuming excessive amounts of protein, I also don’t like all of the additives that are included in the processed powders.

My problem is that there are many great healthy recipes out there (particularly on food/health blogs) which call for protein powder, and whenever I come across one of these recipes I’m stumped! I never know what I should substitute the protein powder with. I like using powdered peanut butter such as PB2Β or FitNutz instead of protein powder, but I can only get these products online so they are quite expensive and dear to me. They need to be rationed!

Then I came across skim milk powder.

Skim milk powder is cheap and has a good amount of calcium and protein in it without going overboard. It contains the exact same ingredients that regular milk does and you can find it at any grocery store. It works great in recipes! It doesn’t add any flavor that I have noticed so there’s no problem with tossing a few tablespoons into smoothies, energy bars, baked goods, or anything else you’d want to add protein powder to. As a bonus to being really healthy, skim milk powder is fat free, low in calories, and provides the calcium that many of us are lacking.

green smoothie

I tried making drinkable liquid milk out of the powder by combining it with water as suggested on the package. It works well enough but the taste is chalky. If I didn’t have any milk in the fridge and I was desperately craving milk, I’d turn to the powder-and-water recipe, but otherwise I think I’ll stick with the liquid ready-made milk at the grocery store as it’s much tastier. As far as a protein powder replacement goes, however, skim milk powder is perfect. It has now joined my other loves (Chickpeas. Whole wheat flour. Raisins. Almonds. A wide variety of herbs and spices.) on the shelf as pantry essentials.

Of course, if you do like protein powders, there are plenty to choose from. Just look at this great list that MizFit compiled! Everything you ever wanted to know about protein powders is right there (though I have had difficulties finding most of them in the grocery store… such a shame how many wonderful foods are too obscure to be found easily. And the ones that I have found at health food stores are outrageously expensive. Sighs).

Do you use protein powders? Are there any other substitutes that you like to use instead of protein powders? I’m interested in hearing your ideas.


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31 Comments

  1. MizFit

    thanks for the link love.

    you know, because I say it all the time, that *I* think everyone should find a protein shake they adore and keep it on hand.

    for me it is less about needing moremoreprotein (I agree with you) and more about satiating my sweet tooth.

    I LOVE my metrx shakes in the summer and end up having one a day.

    when I didnt I ended up hitting Dove Bars (do they even still make those?) pretty d*mn regularly and gained about 20 pounds in a summer (alas, Im neither joking nor exaggerating).

  2. Berni

    I’ve gone through stages with protein powders, thinking that I “should” be having them, but not really loving them, I think those horrible meal replacement diets scarred me for life!

    I’ll have to try out the Skim Milk powder idea, sounds promising.

  3. Holly

    What perfect timing!!

    I couldn’t agree more about the PB2 – I would love, LOVE to try this, but it’s too expensive for me to order online. :-(

    While I wouldn’t use a PP daily, I think it would be nice to have on hand to satisfy my sweet tooth, like MizFit said. I think it’d be a great addition to Green Monsters, too! But like you, I would like to think I get enough protein that I wouldn’t NEED to have PP all the time. Plus, it gets expensive!!

  4. Gina

    I don’t use protein powders, as I know I get enough protein in my diet (you really don’t need much, and it’s easy to get through diet, even if you’re a vegan!). However, I think skim milk powder sounds like the best substitution. Soy poder would work too I’m sure.

  5. Lori

    I do supplement protein as I like to lift heavier weights and need it for recovery. There’s only so much chicken breast one can eat, right? πŸ˜€

    I try to stay away from soy, but I do use brown rice protein powder and whey. I actually put it in things like pancakes or oats.

  6. Sagan Morrow

    MizFit- heh, that’s funny… I use powdered PB to satisfy my sweet tooth quite often!

    Berni- eek meal replacement diets. Give me some real food any day :)

    RickiRae- it’s too bad about the chalky taste. Wouldn’t ever have to worry about expiry dates!

    Holly- the expense is such a killer, isn’t it?

    Gina- oh I completely agree with you that we DON’T need a lot of protein, and that it’s really easy to get plenty in our diet without even trying. Didn’t know there was soy powder! I’ll search.

    Anon- interesting idea! Thanks.

    Lori- I’m pretty sure that pancakes are the best invention ever when it comes to being versatile enough for just about ANY add-ins.

  7. charlotte

    Not being a fan of protein powders, this is great news! My mom used to always by powdered milk when we were growing up and hence I’ve always associated it with being a nasty, chalky drink. It never occurred to me to cook with it! Thanks!

  8. Jess

    I do use protein powders sometimes, just to get in some extra protein. I find it keeps me full longer. And I also like that it thickens my smoothies.

    I have however bought almond milk powder, just because it’s cheaper than regular almond milk. But I haven’t try it yet

  9. cathy

    What a GREAT observation! I don’t use protein powders – mainly because I don’t like their flavor – but I have some recipes that do call for protein powders. And I love the idea of making a healthy, high protein snack for my kids. Powdered skim milk will fill this role quite nicely. Thanks for the tip, Sagan!

  10. Jolene

    I have whey protein powder but I rarely use it. My only caveat with protein powder is, if and when people use it they get one’s that don’t have aspartame or acesulfame potassium (an artifical sweetener) that is used in so many commercial protein powders and is so unnecessary, I think.

  11. Sagan Morrow

    Charlotte- hurray for cooking!

    Dr. J, Jolene, & Hanlie- hence why I’m trying to find substitutions for protein powders. Too many recipes call for them, and too often the protein powders leave much to be desired health-wise.

    Jess- I had no idea there was such thing as almond milk powder! That’s so cool.

    Cathy- and kids can probably use a little more calcium, too :)

  12. Jean

    Thanks for this post- I have a little boy who’s starting kindergarten in a few weeks (!) and I’ve been fretting about the mornings… he’s a late sleeper and he doesn’t like to have breakfast until he’s been up for a while. He *loves* milkshakes, so I’ve been thinking about sneaking some protein powder in a fruit smoothie for him. Adding powdered milk is a terrific idea!

  13. Mia {runs & rests}

    I’ve never used protein powders but the closest thing to that would be kinako (soy bean flour). It tastes nutty and I love it. I could easily eat half a bag (100g) on its own, sometimes with brown sugar and cinnamon. One of my weird food combos but so so good. πŸ˜€ If you have it over there, try it.

  14. Diane, fit to the finish

    When we lived in Puerto Rico we couldn’t get fresh milk very easily. So we drank powdered milk as our milk. Think it was yucky? It was!

    I often forget about it now, but that’s a great idea to use a substitute for protein powders, or to enhance the calcium in a dish!

  15. healthy ashley

    What a great idea to use skim milk powder! I do enjoy my Whole Foods soy protein powder every once in a while :)

    I get my nutritional yeast from Whole Foods!

    And it is blood!! I cut a big hole in my finger. It actually still hasn’t stopped bleeding.. uh-oh..!

  16. Sagan Morrow

    Jean- Good luck! Good idea about the smoothies. You can sneak so much in there.

    Sherry- thanks! I’ll keep that in mind.

    Cammy- I heart cheese.

    Mia- hehe that’s funny. I’ll search!

    Andrea- good point about using it as a thickener!

    Diane- I love me some extra calcium :)

    Ashley- ouch for your finger! I can’t WAIT to go to Whole Foods in a few weeks…

    Burpexcuzme- gotta keep things as natural healthy as possible :)

  17. ttfn300

    that’s a great idea!! i have a large amount of skim milk powder that i bought for who knows what reason and still haven’t used :( i use protein powder occasionally… but we’ll see what I decide once this tub is gone!

  18. Lori

    I’ve experimented with protein powders (both whey and soy) in the past especially when I worked in gyms. They really weren’t doing anything for me that food could not and are costly so I no longer see their benefit. I’d rather eat eggs and quinoa. :) That is a great idea about the powdered milk. I hadn’t thought of that as a substitute for powders. I’ll have to remember it. Thanks!

  19. Pingback: Calcium and Protein Powders « Living Healthy in the Real World

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