Ever wonder what’s actually in your protein powder? We did. And after we deciphered the near-unpronounceable ingredients, we started thinking some more. Say you wanted to nix powders altogether—forgo the tubs of whey and take a more natural route—by bulking up shakes and smoothies with protein-filled vegetables, seeds, dairy products, and more. What would you use? Which easy-to-mix-in foods have the highest protein profile?
Don’t worry—rhetorical question—you don’t have to rack your brain or raid your fridge. We assembled 15 foods packed with protein, flavor, and nutrients to support your health and treat your taste buds. Happy blending.
Note: Each food's nutritional value has been generated from Calorie Counter.
There’s a good chance peanut butter is already one of your go-to smoothie add-ins—and for good reason. Just 2 tablespoons pack 8 grams of protein. Plus, peanut butter adds great thickness and texture.
This is another smoothie and shake staple you’ll always want to have on-hand. Though water (obviously) has fewer calories, skim milk is a great liquid base because 1 cup yields 8.4 grams of protein and you get the added benefit of calcium. Likewise, soy milk has 8 grams of protein per cup. You can try nut milks for added flavor, too.
Steel-cut oats shouldn’t be saved solely for oatmeal. Throw a ½ cup of oats into your next smoothie or shake, and you’ll be adding 5 grams of protein. The added fiber will help keep you full ‘till lunchtime, too.
There are probably plenty of things you don’t know about kale. Case in point, just 1 cup of the nutrient- and antioxidant-rich vegetable packs 1 gram of fiber and 4 grams of protein—and comes in under 70 calories. Balance out the somewhat bitter taste by adding fruit, like banana.
Tiny but mighty, hemp seeds are brimming with amino acids; they've got 5 grams of protein in just 2 tablespoons.
About 3 tablespoons of this peanut butter-alternative boasts over 8 grams of protein. What's more, brazil nuts are packed with disease-fighting selenium.
Just because quinoa’s heyday has weaned a bit, doesn't mean you shouldn't consume the healthy whole grain (well, seed) on a daily basis. Just 1 cooked cup adds 8 grams of protein—an absolute game changer when it comes to reimagining the “protein shake.”
Normally reserved for sushi, seaweed is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. Drop 1 tablespoon of dried Spirulina seaweed into your next blended concoction and you’ll add 4 grams of protein.
You’ve probably never thought to add dried fruit to your smoothies and shakes, but dried apricots are one of the greatest sources of protein—of any fruit. One cup of dried apricot halves has 4.4 grams of protein. Note: some blenders aren’t strong enough to break down dried fruit, but raw, fresh apricots only have .5 grams of protein, so you may want to invest in a blender that is. We love these 4.
Toss 1 tablespoon of untoasted pumpkin seeds into your next blended beverage; you'll add 3 grams of protein.
Greek yogurt is strained to remove its whey, resulting in a consistency similar to a milkshake that'll add great thickness to your shake (and a slightly sour taste). At 17 grams of protein per one small container (170 g), Greek yogurt is a protein-packed powerhouse.
With 4 grams of protein an ounce, cacao nibs are an excellent way to add protein and a kick of flavor to your smoothies and shakes. Complement with fruit to bring out the rich chocolate taste.
It may seem bizarre to make cottage cheese the dairy base of your smoothie, but it makes the texture and consistency super creamy and thick, while adding a dose of casein—a protein that digests more slowly. Just 4 ounces yields 14 grams of protein.
This tropical fruit is brimming with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, fiber and, you guessed it—protein. About eight pieces of fruit (they’re small) boasts 3 grams of protein.