Let's say you're craving a smoothie, but you also need to add a little protein to your diet . . . a protein smoothie is an excellent way to do that! Whether it's for a powerhouse breakfast or a post-workout snack, we love blending up a frosty glass of nutrition for a lightning-fast meal (that takes zero culinary prowess).
But what if you don't have or don't like protein powder? Don't get us wrong: we certainly have our favorite supplement powders, but sometimes you just want whole foods or don't want to drop the extra cash (those tubs can be pricey!). There are whole, nutritious, and inexpensive sources of protein you can easily add to your favorite blend; they either don't distract from the flavor of the fruits (or whatever else you're blending) or they add a delicious extra element (ahem, peanut butter!).
- Nut Butter: Not that you needed another excuse to add peanut butter or almond butter to your smoothie, but know that two tablespoons can add seven to eight grams of protein (seven for almond; eight for peanut).
- Tofu: This soy-based food adds a thickness reminiscent of a frosty shake, but it also adds 10 grams of protein for every half-cup you add to your smoothie. Bonus: it'll take on whatever flavor you add in, whether it's vanilla, chocolate, cinnamon, or fruit.
- Beans: Toss some legumes into your blender to up the nutrition of any of your favorite blends. Whether you choose chickpeas or cannellini beans, you'll get roughly three to four grams of protein tacked onto your blended beverage.
- Cottage Cheese: This might sound wild, but adding cottage cheese to your smoothie can give it a surprisingly milkshake-like consistency and flavor, and depending on the variety, it can have even more protein than yogurt, with 12 grams per half-cup serving.
- Greek or Icelandic Yogurt: A staple protein add-on, yogurt is a great base for fruit-flavored smoothies, like a berry blend or tropical concoction. It also adds roughly 10 grams of protein to your smoothie!
- Coconut Milk: Make things tropical with creamy coconut (from a can!); it has five grams of protein per cup, and it pairs nicely with other tropical fruits like mango and pineapple.
- Milk: If you can tolerate dairy, straight-up milk — low fat or otherwise — is a surefire way to add creaminess and protein to your glass, with eight grams per cup. Pro tip: try adding chocolate milk to your shake for a muscle-soothing recovery drink.
- Flaxmeal or Flax Seeds: While not necessarily a protein powerhouse per se, a couple tablespoons of whole flax in your smoothie will up your protein content by about four grams.
- Chia Seeds: Sprinkle some chia seeds into your smoothie and stir up a fiber- and protein-packed treat. With about five grams per ounce, it'll definitely up the nutritional profile in a way that won't affect the flavor of your shake.
- Raw Eggs or Egg Whites: OK, if you thought cottage cheese was crazy, you might want to hold onto your seat: adding raw eggs to a smoothie is actually a thing. Make sure you use pasteurized eggs, though. You'll be adding six grams of protein per egg.