Baking with Protein Powder: Mouthwatering Creations that Build You Up

Everyone knows that part of a healthy lifestyle is the nutritional component, and complementing a strong workout with the right foods is really important related to performance, recovery and appetite. In recent years, protein powder has become the darling of foodies, as well as exercise afficianados, in search of a tasty way to build a better body. It’s in protein shakes, muffins, pancakes, pizza, desserts, dips, cereals and more. Regular restaurants along with health-food establishments are paying attention to this important trend, and it is more and more common for bakers to prepare special items using E whey, pea, casein, soy and other varieties of protein powder. The most beneficial time for ingesting protein powder in any form is soon after a workout (a two-hour window) so your muscles can absorb the nutrients for growth and recovery. It also reduces the opportunity for muscle damage. With glycogen levels in your system reduced after a workout, it’s also a good idea to include some carbs in your recovery nutrition. Your insulin levels will be boosted and that will help your body with utilize the amino acids from the protein, and facilitate regrowth of your overworked muscles. It’s a win-win-win for your biceps, your brain and your tummy!

One very strong advocate for dietary protein enhancement is Shannon Illch, a competitive bodybuilder and the owner of Cornerstone Nutrition in Sarasota. Her food service creates, serves and delivers portion-controlled, high-nutrition meals to customers with busy schedules and serious fitness goals. In an average week, Cornerstone staffers will prepare 1,500 to 2,000 delicious meals with special attention to every nutrient group. People can choose from a menu that changes weekly with dishes like French toast with vanilla protein drizzle, “super food” chicken salad, red velvet protein waffle, and a turkey burger mixed with beets and other vegetables.

Shannon and her chef, Ryan Kelly, continually tweak recipes and menus, subject to client requests and the latest nutritional research. She said, “When supplementing various forms of protein powder for flour in a recipe, the rule of thumb seems to be that a fourth of the flour can be substituted with powder. To do it in greater proportions risks making the finished product (cake, crust, bread) too rubbery.” The fact is, inserting protein powder will make a food healthier just by taking the place of a standard recipe’s high carb and fat ingredients. Many cookbooks also recommend adding a moisturizing element if you are going to insert protein powder in baked goods. Applesauce, yogurt, or fruit puree go a long way in making a powerful protein muffin a lot more appetizing.

Shannon said the best reason to take in the additional protein on a regular basis is to help maintain muscle mass. “This supplement to the diet will reduce deterioration and help people to feel full.”

Protein powder can even be included in the recipe for doughnuts — which most nutritionists eye with a lot of suspicion in the traditional formula of sugar and flour. Local bake shops such as FiveODonutCo in downtown Sarasota are experimenting with protein powder in some of their recipes. It will be an exciting day when these frosted temptations can actually be part of your fitness regimen!