I look for protein in everything we eat. We're a vegetarian family and it's our mission to make sure our kids eat well made, nutrient dense food, all the time. And yes, Ernest's Coconut Ice Cream is nutrient dense, and well made.
But seriously - it's almost back to school for our kids, and along with getting to bed at a "reasonable" time, it's time to get into a morning routine. Breakfast smoothies are an awesome way to get oil, protein and nutrients into them every morning. I can easily make a drink that they'll love....full of bananas, strawberries, mango and dates but hey, we might as well have ice cream as it might have less sugar. I have my "go to" fancy smancy vegan organic protein powder but the kids tell me it's chalky, which it is. They love nut butters in their smoothies but they're very high in fat so I weight the pros and cons and don't use that much which limits the protein.
We figure our kids should be getting around 20 to 25 grams of protein per day. So I thought as we still have some summer left we would head to our teaching kitchen and test out a bunch of different types of protein to see what else we could use in addition to nut butters.
We decided on 7 different proteins and had kale (also a protein) blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, banana, date, ice and water the same in each smoothie.
The mixture was:
- 1 cup frozen mixed berries
- 1 date
- 1 half banana
- 1/2 cup of kale (1.5 grams of protein)
- 1 cup cold water
- 2 ice cubes
- protein (below)
Mix in the Vitamix for 40 seconds or on smoothie setting
Our proteins were:
- 1/2 Avocado: 2.3g
- 1/2 cup Oats: 3g
- 2 tbsp Almond Butter: 6.8g
- 2 tbsp Peanut Butter: 8g
- 2 tbsp Hemp Hearts: 5.4g
- 1/4 cup low fat cottage cheese: 7g
- 2 tbsp Quinoa: 4g
Our results were interesting but not that surprising. They said that all of them could use more dates, of course. My son could eat dates for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Using the smoothie presets on the Vitamix 3500 made the job of running the Vitamix for a set amount of time super simple. Each smoothie was blended perfectly.
The kids made each smoothie combination then set them in a row before taste testing.
The kids love nut butter so we left that for last as I knew that would rate high. We worked in this order with these results:
- 1/4 cup low fat cottage cheese. Result: Sour 2/10
- 1/2 cup Oats. Result: Chalky 3.5/10 (1/2 cup is probably too many oats)
- 1/2 Avocado. Result: Thick but good 5/10
- 2 tbsp Hemp Hearts. Result: Good, but not awesome 6.5/10
- 2 tbsp Quinoa. Result: Mixed reviews by quite good 6/10
- 2 tbsp Almond Butter. Result: Great 8.5/10
- 2 tbsp Peanut Butter. Result: The winner, and still champion 9.5/10
The judges were a tad biased but it's their food so I want them to have a choice in what they eat. They're slowly learning what it means to make good food choices and both of them know how they feel when they've been eating food they shouldn't.
The Final Results:
Our protein experiment was a load of family fun in the kitchen. I don't think that we'll change much up except that Quinoa is a complete protein and as a vegetarian family that is a very, very good thing. Hemp hearts are also a good alternative to nut butters as both Quinoa and Hemp Hearts have way less fat and calories per gram of protein making them a good alternative throughout the week. Even through Quinoa is on the menu in our home quite a bit in bowls, salads and porridge, it doesn't hurt to get it in us all more often.