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Plant Based Protein For Smoothies

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Does anyone really like the taste of protein powder? I mean, really? It has gained popularity over the last few years, but many people, myself included, don’t feel comfortable feeding it to our kids! Fortunately, there are other ways to add protein to smoothies without protein powder! 

a pinterest pin with 2 pictures, one with a smoothie and one with nuts and seeds

With plant based and vegan diets becoming more popular, it is more important than ever that people ensure they are getting enough protein. Kids included. 

And one of the easiest ways to get it into ourselves and our kids is through smoothies! 

What Are The Benefits of Protein? 

How much protein a person needs has been surrounded in controversy. And instead of discussing it here, you can read more about how much protein you should be getting HERE.

But the one thing both sides can agree on is that protein is vital to our health. Our bodies need protein to build and repair muscles. That is one reason people like to drink protein shakes after working out. 

In addition to muscle repair, protein is imperative to healthy bones, nails and even skin.

Do kids need extra protein?

First a disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist and I did not study protein and kids in school. This is strictly my opinion, based on my own research.  So consult your doctor if you have specific questions.

Most people who are not exercising strenuously or strength training are probably getting sufficient protein. If you are not working out, and you are eating a well balanced diet, you are likely doing fine. 

However, as time goes on, I am hearing from more and more moms whose kids won’t eat any type of protein. Typically due to the texture of meat. Often times these same kids don’t like beans or grains that contain protein. 

These moms are desperate for ideas on how to get more protein into their kids, and that is who this post is for! 

High Protein Foods

When trying to get kids to eat more of anything, the  trick is to find the foods with the most bang for your buck. After all, chances are they aren’t going to eat as much as an adult, so we need to make every dish count! 

The best  way to get more protein into them is to serve them high protein foods. 

a document showing a top view of a blueberry smoothies and a list of foods that are high in protein

Fortunately, there are several healthy protein options that are relatively easy to hide in smoothies! The ones we use the most are nut butters (specifically almond butter), flax seeds and more recently, Oats. 

TIP: Certain brands of oatmeal may contain Glyphosate (Round up). So be sure to go organic and review this list: Glyphosate in Cereal

The beauty of these mix ins is that your child likely won’t even notice it in there! 

However, from experience, I can tell you not to go overboard or the kids will start to suspect something!!

The great thing is that I have been mixing different foods into our smoothies for years so now the kids might groan but they always taste it…and almost always like it. So stick with it and it will payoff!

How To Add Protein Without Protein Powder

I provided a printable list above (print it and keep it on the fridge!) but here is that list again, some with a few tips:

  • Nut Butters – Peanut Butter, Almond Butter
  • Oats – Steel Cut Oats are the best option, but standard oats will work too
  • Greek Yogurt – If you eat dairy, yogurt is a great way to add more protein and make the smoothie creamier!
  • Keifer – This is a dairy product as well, but it is fermented. The texture is similar to a thin yogurt and is worth a try!
  • Pumpkin Seeds – When using seeds, you can taste them in the smoothie if you add too much. For picky eaters, start with a small amount and gradually add more
  • Flax Seeds, Hemp Seeds and Chia Seeds – These superfood seeds really don’t add much flavor to the smoothie but they can change the texture. Chia and Flax seeds will thicken as they sit, so again, start with a small amount and gradually add more. But these seeds are packed with nutrients so it is worth adding a little!
  • Coconut Milk – This is a surprising one for many! But coconut milk does have more protein than other milks and it adds a tropical flavor to smoothies! It is also high in fat and calories (but it is good for you!), so use it in moderation 🙂
  • Cacao Nibs – Yes, chocolate! Why add anything else to the list! Cacao nibs are not sweet, so they add a mild cocoa flavor to smoothies. It’s a great way to switch it up!
  • Walnuts
  • Cooked Quinoa – Quinoa is packed with protein, but it is only effective when cooked. If you have leftover quinoa  from the night before, try adding a little to your smoothie! Just make sure it blends completely!
  • Cooked Lentils – This is another unconventional source of protein in smoothies. In vegan cooking, cooked lentils are used to thicken soups, so add just a Tablespoon or two. But again, it is worth a try!

Tips On What Milk To use In Smoothies

When I first started making smoothies, I could have sworn that Almond milk was high in protein. I mean, almonds themselves are. However, I discovered that the store process of making almond milk strips a lot of the protein from the almonds.

We often make our own Almond Milk and Cashew Milk but I quickly realized that we primarily use the milk for smoothies. That is when I discovered this trick!

Instead of buying nut milks for smoothies, just substitute water and whole nuts. For example, when I make a smoothie, my base is 1 cup of water and 5-6 whole almonds – after all, those are the only ingredients in almond milk!

After it is all blended, the smoothie tastes as good as ever! And we get the added benefit of nutrition and protein from the nuts without preservatives or thickeners found in store brands.

It’s also much cheaper, convenient and there is no straining involved! The same can be done with oats, walnuts and macadamia nuts.

Smoothies For kids – How To Get Kids To Drink Green Smoothies – Now that you’ve added the protein! 

When the green smoothie craze first started many, many years ago, kids (and adults), including my family, were traumatized by them. We all got so excited that we started adding a ton of greens and a few apples to cut the taste.  Just hold your breath and drink it!

However, now that we have been drinking smoothies for 5+ years (and have kids who are picky) we now realize that we need to intentional about what we add to smoothies.

Adding the right plant based ingredients ensures that we are getting the nutrition we need (isn’t that the whole point??) while still making it taste good enough for the kids to enjoy. 

In the end, the trick with the kids is to make sure it isn’t too green! 

Here are a few tricks we learned along the way:

  • Add berries – Not only are berries good for you, but they make the smoothie pretty! Strawberries and blueberries are especially good at producing an exciting color for the kids. And if they complain, they are usually ok with it if they know if is from the fruit 😉 
  • Hemp seeds and flax have very little flavor – In fact, the kids still can’t tell it is in the smoothie unless they see us adding it. We only add about 1/2 tsp  total to a smoothie.
  • You can easily hide spinach in smoothies! And they don’t even notice 🙂 It is good to mix up your greens, so when using kale or lettuce, add a little less because you can taste those.
  • If you use kale, it is important to add an acid to cover the flavor. I have found that pineapple works best for us
  • If they are just starting out on smoothies, set them up for success by giving them just a little bit. You want them to drink it and feel good about finishing it (be sure to praise them). They can always ask for more. 
  • Put it in a cute cup and give them a fun straw…it does wonders for kids!

Are You Ready To Try it? 

Let me know your favorite smoothie recipe! We just finished our smoothie challenge week, but be sure to join our FB group for support and more ideas! 

You May Want To Try Some Of These Delicious Smoothies!

By on January 16th, 2020

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