I have a love/hate relationship with protein powder. I love that it helps make my daily smoothie more filling and meal-like. I love that it’s a quick and easy way to get a nice dose of the recovery-helping macronutrient after a hard workout.
But I hate the price. And I, more often than not, hate the ingredient list. There are definitely more natural protein powders out there, but the price is just so restrictively high! And the rare times I found a natural protein powder that wasn’t exorbitantly expensive, it was exorbitantly gritty, earthy, and generally not delicious.
We recently ran out of our giant tub of protein powder, and I’ve been meaning to buy another one. But every time I’ve gone grocery shopping, I’ve landed in the protein powder aisle, taken one look at the prices and turned my shopping cart right around. I have a seriously hard time justifying $20+ for some powder.
But then it hit me, hey, I have stuff that has protein in it in my pantry. And I have a coffee grinder that does a dang good job of turning things into powder. So, uh, why not? So I did.
It took a little bit of experimentation to get something that didn’t overwhelm other flavors in smoothies. At first, I tried just straight ground dried lentils. Tons of protein, yes, but also tons of lentil-y flavor. Not recommended, unless you are one of those people who thinks a peanut butter-banana-lentil smoothie sounds delicious. So then I started to think about ways to cut the lentil flavor, but still add protein—enter steel cut oats and brown rice.
Both the steel cut oats and the brown rice have protein, but more importantly in this little concoction they are pretty flavorless, which helps cut back on the earthy flavor of the lentils. I worked a little bit on the ratio, and soon enough, I had a nice protein-packed powder that just was pretty much flavorless in a smoothie. Win!
WANT TO MAKE YOUR OWN? HERE’S THE BREAK DOWN:
- 1/3 cup steel cut oats
- 1/3 cup brown rice
- 1 cup dried green lentils
I mixed all of that up in a bowl, and then ground it in my coffee grinder about 1/3 cup at a time (just because my grinder is small) until it was a very fine powder. I ended up with just shy of two cups total of protein powder.
The nutritional info isn’t quite as high in protein as your standard off-the-shelf protein powder, but it’s still pretty amazing, especially considering the low price tag and the low number of ingredients. Because of the carb-y nature of the oats and rice, it’s higher in carbs that store-bought powder, too, but I’m a big fan of whole grain, natural carbs, so I’m good with it! And, of course, you can play with the ratios to up the protein even more (more lentils) and reduce the carbs (less steel cut oats and rice). You could also try other protein-tastic add-ins, like dried soybeans or dired black beans. I just always have lentils kicking around, so it was a good fit for our lifestyle.
Here’s the comparision between my homemade protein powder and my typical off-the-shelf protein powder.
HOMEMADE PROTEIN POWDER (PER 1/4 CUP OF POWDER)
- 130 calories
- 8g protein
- 1g fat
- 24g carbs
Ingredients: Lentils, Brown Rice, Steel Cut Oats
STORE-BOUGHT PROTEIN POWDER (PER 1/4 CUP OF POWDER)
- 80 calories
- 14g protein
- 0g fat
- 5g carbs
Ingredients: Proprietary non-GMO protein blend (rice protein, pea protein and soy [isolated soy protein and fermented soy]), di-calcium phosphate, FOS (fructooligosaccharides), curcumin (natural color), banana flavor, potassium citrate, guar gum, magnesium oxide, psyllium, natural vanilla flavor, oat bran, microcrystalline cellulose, spirulina, vitamin C, vitamin E (d-alpha tocopheryl acetate), choline bitartrate, inositol, apple pectin, bee pollen, niacinamide, vitamin A palmitate, zinc oxide, manganese sulfate, ferrous fumarate, calcium pantothenate, lecithin, lemon bioflavonoids, papaya, bromelain, chlorophyll, pyridoxine HCl, riboflavin, thiamine HCl, vitamin B-12, vitamin D, folic acid, biotin, potassium iodide, chromium chloride, sodium selenite, sodium molybdate
I know what some of you are saying—but I don’t have a coffee grinder! Well, I think it’s worth the cash to go out and buy one. My coffee grinder was a whopping $10 at Target a few years ago. A $10 coffee grinder, $1 bag of lentils, $1 bag of brown rice and $2 worth of steel cut oats will make you much more than $14 worth of all-natural, plant-based, vegan protein powder.
I’m a unflavored, unsweetened protein powder kind of girl, but I know that sometimes it can be really fun to mix it up with fun flavors, so I spent a little time creating four different flavor variations on the powder.
- Cappuccino: For each 1/3 cup of lentil/rice/oats mixture you blend in the coffee grinder, throw in 1 tablespoon of whole coffee beans and blend until a fine powder. To sweeten, add desired amount of stevia or sugar.
- Chocolate: For each 1/3 cup of lentil/rice/oats mixture you blend in the coffee grinder, throw in 1 tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder and blend until a fine powder. To sweeten, add desired amount of stevia or sugar.
- Vanilla: For each 1/3 cup of lentil/rice/oats mixture you blend in the coffee grinder, add in the insides of 1/2 of a vanilla bean or slice a whole vanilla bean in half lengthwise and stash in a jar with the whole batch of protein powder to flavor continuously. To sweeten, add desired amount of stevia or sugar.
- Pumpkin Spice: For each 1/3 cup of lentil/rice/oats mixture you blend in the coffee grinder, add in 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger and ground cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg and ground cloves. To sweeten, add desired amount of stevia or sugar.
Let me know if you guys try it out with any other ratios, flavors or ingredients! I’d love to hear what you guys come up with. Happy protein powder making!