Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Protein Power

Anyone who knows me well would know I have been on a bit of an exercise kick lately. I've always been a active person but it was mainly yoga and dance that I enjoyed and it was never a regular part of my life. A bit over a year ago a friend convinced me to go on a bit of a health kick with her. A week into our plan I called her to see how she was going, she laughed confiding that she only lasted one day and then decided she couldn't be bothered! I decided to stick with it for a bit longer to see how I felt, eating fresh healthy food and walking or yoga each day. The same friend was also trying to convince me to join the gym with her, but I wasn't sure about committing to that unless I had proven I was committed to exercising outside (for free) first. After a few months of walking every day I decided it was time to see what this whole gym thing was like. I was one of those people who hated the idea of gyms, and trust me I was terrified the first few times. That was about a year and half ago and now exercising be it indoor at the gym or jogging around the streets has become part of my daily life. 
Recently I have started exercising with a few friends and have even signed up for a few fun runs (who would have ever thought!!). One thing we have noticed is how sore we are after training, and we are often seen limping around at work the few days following. We did a bit of research and talked to a few trainers who suggested we needed more of a protein hit after our weight training to help our muscle recovery.  This made sense but when we started looking around at quick easy things that would give the right amount of protein everything seem loaded with artificial sweeteners and whey powder and cost LOTS of money. 
That was when I decided to try making my own, I found some plain rice protein powder at a local health food store and started adding it to my smoothies. This was cheap and tasted pretty good but I wasn't always home and able to use my blender after every workout. So I started to experiment with making something similar to the mass produced bars or powders that are available without the artificial highly processed ingredients. Here are a few ideas.  

Protein Powder
makes 10 heaped tbsp serves
4 tbsp raw sprouted brown rice protein
3 tbsp soy milk powder
3 tsp stevia powder
4 tbsp raw cacao


 To make the powder put all the ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine, store in a sealed container in the fridge until you want to use it (will be fine in your gym bag for a day but being in the fridge will extend the life of you powder especially if you use soy milk powder). 

It is that easy. 

To make a protein shake add a heaped tbsp or two into a blender, jar, drink bottle and add a dash of hot water to dissolve the powders. Shake well. Then top up with water/ milk (I like almond milk best) and shake to combine. You can also add the mix into smoothies, is really nice with a frozen banana and almond milk. 
This mix can really be made however you like. If you are always going to mix it with milk you could skip the soy milk powder (although it does make it extra creamy) but if you intend to you water to mix I would recommend keeping it in or you will end up with a gritty watery drink which I didn't find very palatable. 
If you are going to mix it with sweetened soy milk, almond milk etc you can skip the stevia, but again if you intend to mix with water I would leave it in to make it less bitter.  
If you are happy/ able to make a smoothie post your weight training I would just buy some plain rice protein (mine only cost about $12 for 500g) and throw it in with whatever fruit etc that you like in a smoothie.  If you cant do that you can try making up some of this mix to have on hand for days when that is not possible. 

If shakes and smoothies are not your thing you could try a protien bar, perfect for post workouts or for a nutritious snack that will keep you going until your next meal. 

Protein bars
makes aprox 12 bars depending on how big you cut them


1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup coconut flakes (make sure it has no added sugar)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup rice protein powder

1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/4 cup raw cacao

25 fresh dates pitted
1 tsp vanilla essence

4 tbsp rolled oats
4 tbsp cacao nibs


Place walnuts in a food processor and blend until they become a fine flour, add coconut, sunflower seeds chia seeds and flax seeds. Blend again until become a fine powder. Add rice protein powder and pulse to combine. Add vanilla and then dates a few at a time, stopping to check if the mixture is getting moist and holding together in a small ball when you press it together.
When the mixture is looking moist, carefully fold through oats and cacao nibs. Line a baking tray with baking paper and press the mixture into the pan. You will need to press it in really firmly, I got a glass jar and used it to roll the mixture in. Place the tray in the freezer for about 30mins or until firm. Slice into bars, squares and place into a sealed container with layers of baking paper between each layer to stop them sticking. Keep in the freezer. The bars will soften as they warm up and may become a little crumbly, but will still taste good. Alternatively you could roll them into balls to help them stay together better.

In making both these options I'm hoping to have something on hand to have quickly post workouts to help my poor muscles recover a bit quicker. Feel free to change/ play to your own tastes and hopefully one of these options will work for you too. Happy exercising!

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