Powders may seem like a healthy way to add protein to smoothies. But many, like Muscle Milk and Designer Whey, are actually filled with highly processed ingredients, chemicals, antibiotics, and heavy metals. Try these protein-packed real foods instead.
1. Peanut Butter
Scoop 2 tablespoons of your favorite peanut butter into your smoothie for 7 grams of protein and infinite grams of mmmmmmmm. Get the Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie recipe here.
2. Coconut Milk
With 5 grams of protein per cup, coconut milk is an easy way to get more out of your smoothie. Get the Pineapple Coconut Milk Smoothie recipe here.
3. Flax Seeds
Flax seeds not only provide protein (2g/tbsp of ground seeds), they're also a super source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Add to a smoothie for a nice nutty flavor. (Pro tip: Buy them whole for maximum shelf life and then use a coffee grinder to get their full nutritional value.) Get the Fruit and Oatmeal Flax Smoothie recipe here.
You're used to eating your nori wrapped around a Negi Hamachi roll, but throw some in your breakfast smoothie for a solid dose of protein. (Exact amount depends on the type of seaweed you're using.) Added bonus: Some seaweeds can block fat absorption by up to 75%. Get the Mint Chocolate Seaweed Shake recipe here.
Oats, man: 11 grams of protein in every cup. And who knew you could put them in smoothies? Get the Apple Pie Smoothie recipe here.
6. Chia Seeds
Chia has been a powerhouse food since about 3500 B.C. Full of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids (more than salmon!), calcium, and about 4 grams of protein per tablespoon, chia seeds are an easy way to add protein to your diet. And unlike flax seeds, you don't need to grind them to get to the nutrients. Get the Banana Raspberry Chia Smoothie recipe here.
One cup of fat-free, organic milk has an impressive 8 grams of protein, making it a perfect replacement for water in your smoothie. Get the Quick 'n Easy Strawberry and Banana Smoothie recipe here.
8. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are an easy way to add protein (3g/tbsp), magnesium, zinc, omega-3s, and lots of other nutrients to your diet. They're great in smoothies, but you might want to make it a dessert instead of a breakfast: Pumpkin seeds are also full of tryptophan, the sleep-inducing amino acid also found in turkey. Get the Frosty Pumpkin Seed Sweet Green Smoothie recipe here.
9. Almond Butter
A tablespoon of almond butter will add 2 grams of protein but two tablespoons will add FOUR. Get the Blueberry Almond Butter Smoothie recipe here.
That's right. Everybody's favorite alterna-grain can add protein to your smoothies, too. One cup of cooked quinoa has a respectable 8 grams, containing all nine essential amino acids. The magnesium, fiber, and iron are nice too. Get the Strawberry, Chamomile, and Quinoa Smoothie recipe here.
11. Raw Egg
Just because Rocky and Gaston made it famous, does not mean eating raw eggs needs to be limited to just the bodybuilding set. Throw one in your smoothie for 6 grams of protein and a silky smooth texture. Choose organic, free-range eggs to up your nutrient levels and potentially lower salmonella risk. Get the Blueberry Banana Smoothie recipe here.
Especially good in fruit smoothies, plain, nonfat yogurt has 14 grams of protein per cup. Perfect for the smoothie newbie not quite ready to deal with chia seeds. Get the Banana Mango Yogurt Smoothie recipe here.
13. Soy Milk
Soy milk heard us talking about coconut milk and was like, "Yo, WTF, I have 7 grams of protein. Talk about me." Get the Blackberry Green Smoothie recipe here.
14. Sunflower Seeds
With 1.5g of protein/tbsp, sunflower seeds are another easy ingredient to add to your smoothie (even easier if you buy them shelled). They're also a good source of copper (for glowing skin and hair), Vitamin E (for good blood circulation), and folate (important for prenatal health). Get the Coconut Avocado Sunflower Seed Smoothie recipe here.
One-fourth cup of walnuts will add about 4.5 grams of protein to your smoothie, not to mention ample doses of heart-healthy potassium and energy-boosting magnesium. Get the Raspberry Walnut Smoothie recipe here.
16. Hemp Seeds
One tablespoon of hemp seeds will add a whopping 5 grams of protein to your smoothie, making the wonder cannabis plant even more wonderful. Hemp seeds are also a good source of fiber, potassium, and iron. Get the Kale, Banana, Chia, Hemp Superfood Smoothie recipe here.
17. Cacao Nibs
Cacao nibs have 4 grams of protein in every ounce, which kind of makes you wonder: Why is there anything else on this list? Get the Banana Cacao Recovery Smoothie recipe here.