My journey of cooking with protein powder has felt like being in a pitch black cave – bumping and tripping my way through a tunnel I know nothing about. I’ve been bumping around this cave for some time now and am starting to get to know this cave…and even feel comfortable, familiar and confident.
What I hated most with protein recipes – that darn RUBBERY texture! That airy texture that made you feel like you were eating an old, hard kitchen sponge…that was supposed to be healthy for you.
Well I am here to put an end to your protein powder cooking woes!! (or…at least give you some tools to help you tweak your recipe closer to “yum” than “yuck”)
Rule #1: The ONE QUARTER (1/4) rule
Keep your whey protein powder to no more than 1/4 of your batter. You have to combat the whey’s after-cook rubbery tendency with moisture ingredients to help weigh it down, hence the 1/4 rule. Some people will actually say much less (like 1/8), but it kind of depends on your recipe and your taste buds.
Rule #2: MOISTURIZE
A main moisture element is necessary, but your recipe does not need to be limited to just one. I will use things like water and applesauce, or baby food and water, or coconut oil, or peanut butter or cottage cheese – or any combination of these.
Rule #3: BLESS BE THE TIES THAT BIND
Don’t forget your binding agent of eggs! Or egg whites, of course. Depending on your recipe, sometimes things like honey or peanut butter can be enough of a binding agent.
Rule #4: BAKE TIME
Whey protein gets rubbery when cooked (baked, pan fried, cooked) and though these rules help to combat it, one of the key things to watch out for is cook time. I have found that my protein versions of recipes often are fully-cooked sooner than the allotted recipe cook time. So if you are making pancakes, you may need to flip sooner OR if baking cookies, cut it short by 5 minutes (or more!). Bottom line, watch the first batch and don’t hesitate to check it prematurely. You can always put it back, but you can’t reverse the rubber. With some of my recipes that I post I even mention to under-cook it a little. The ingredients that have to be cooked (like eggs), will be cooked very early on, so you don’t have to worry about bacteria.
Rule #5: NOT EVERY GIRL LIKES FLOURS
This rule is made to break. Flour works well with whey because it helps give volume, but most of the time I try to find ways to omit it (even the healthy flours) because I am trying to have a specific nutritional content.
Here are some flours that I have worked with that are high-protein, gluten-free and high-fiber:
almond flour – brings hints of almond flavor
amaranth flour – I have never baked with SOLELY amaranth, so as far as flavor I cannot personally attest, but I do know that it is jam packed with protein, fiber, lysine, and essential amino acids
buckwheat flour – a hearty flavor
coconut flour – has a very very mild taste
garbanzo bean/chickpea flour – has a bean flavor that is very distinct to me, but most people I have served cannot pin-point it
oat flour – rich and full flavor
quinoa flour – delicate and slightly nutty flavor
So, if you can keep these 5 rules in mind your limits for protein recipes will know no bounds! Think pancakes…cookies…breads…muffins!! And say bye-bye to rubber. Document as you go so you can learn and tweak your recipes. The best way to lead a healthy fit life is to be skillful in the kitchen. Some of the best lessons are learned by trial and error! Document, tweak and share with the rest of us!
Cooking with whey is even easier than baking and a lot less rules, but that’s another story 🙂