This plant-based vanilla protein shake is one of my favorite recipes of all time. I love how creamy, sweet and nourishing it is— especially after a workout or used as a meal replacement.
I’ve learned that having a high protein smoothie after an intense workout helps me recover quicker and eases the aches on my muscles. Adding a scoop of a plant-based protein powder is a simple way to boost the protein in your shake.
I’m training for our October Grand Canyon R3 Adventure Retreat right now,. This means every weekend requires long trail runs.
Post Workout Recovery Shake
I’m up to running 16 miles right now (just did the Appalachian Approach Trail in Amicalola Falls). As much as I wanted to jump in the shower and then fall asleep— I forced myself to get in that protein. And I’m so glad I did!
I’ve used a lot of powder brands over the years. They’re either too sweet, too gritty or just taste gross. It’s not an easy thing to find a plant-based protein powder that works perfectly in a smoothie. At least, until now. If you’re shopping for a powder, here’s a few things to keep in mind:
- Be able to identify all the ingredients as a whole food (that’s how you know you’re putting real food into your body)
- Avoid gums or flavors (they can affect your gut and tastebuds)
- Avoid sugars, stevia and monkfruit (we use fruit in our smoothies to naturally sweeten it— your powder shouldn’t add more sugar on top of that or it’ll spike your blood sugar levels or confuse your tastebuds)
I’ve spent the last 3 years creating my own protein powder because what I needed wasn’t out there. Protein Smoothie Boost is a combination of finely milled organic plant-based proteins and healthy fats that enhances your smoothie. Yet doesn’t overpower it with gross flavors or textures.
Health Benefits of a Vanilla Protein Shake
The key to making this nourishing vanilla protein shake is nutrient-dense ingredients paired with healthy fats and protein.
- Cashew milk: I like to use Elmhurst cashew milk ever since they took 1st place in the Best Almond Milk of 2020. It has the highest protein count (and no funky ingredients). Yes, it’s pricy… but it’s worth it.
- Raw Cashews: adding just a tablespoon of raw cashews can boost a smoothie 20% in protein and thicken it too. For a creamier smoothie, soak the cashews for 30 minutes before adding to the blender.
- Dates: This natural sweetener is loaded with fiber and flavor— it literally tastes like vanilla/caramel treat to me! You just have to get over the gross look of dates …. and make sure to remove the pit before blending. (I’ve learned the hard way!)
- Vanilla: I have become obsessed with vanilla ever since I’ve been buying the ground vanilla powder from Madagascar beans. They are so flavorful!!! And there is no alcohol taste either, which I’ve never been a fan of.
I add ground vanilla bean powder to lattes, smoothies, cookies and oatmeal. I’ve been using the Wild Vanilla Powder brand and really like it. It’s the most vanilla flavor I’ve ever tasted in such a small amount.
How to make vanilla protein shakes taste better
If you’ve bought vanilla protein powder to make a shake or created your own recipe, I’m sure you’ve had your fair share of issues. Here’s 3 tips to make your next shake test better:
Bananas or dates make the best natural sweetener.
Bananas and dates are packed with fiber and natural sugars. They are honestly the perfect combination to make it sweet, but not cause a sugar crash.
They add a depth of flavor that you’ll never get with processed sweeteners. This is why you’ll often see natural flavors on top of these kinda of sweeteners. Stevia and monkfruit leave a bitter, sharp taste in the mouth. They also overpower the flavors, which is why I avoid any powder that uses these processed sweeteners.
Use a plant-based milk with a high protein count.
I didn’t realize how different plant-base milks would be when it comes to protein content, taste or quality. Yet once I did the Best Almond Milk of 2020, it quickly became obvious there is a difference.
If you’re trying to increase your protein consumption, then I’d recommend using Elmhurst Cashew Milk. With 4 grams of protein in 1 cup, vs Silk Cashew Milk which contains < 1 grams of protein per serving.