This is one of those, seems-too-easy to put on the blog kind of “recipes.” Especially because I’ve never considered myself an expert on protein shakes. But it’s because they’ve never been YUMMY ENOUGH FOR ME. Always team chew-my-calories over drinking them. Always. UNTIL THIS Chunky Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Shake!
Dessert has always been essential to me. It just is. Maybe I should kick the addiction– maybe I shouldn’t eat so late. Maybe if I did Whole 30 I’d lose the need for sweets and feel invincible. But honestly, I’m not sure I want to! My sweet treat on the couch at night, after the kids are in bed– with Ross hanging out (or snoring) next to me… it’s too important to me.
A Macro Friendly Protein Shake I Can Actually Get Excited About
When I first started counting macros, a protein shake was my LAST RESORT dessert. When I’d spent all of my carbs and fat on a dinner out maybe. I would try and get excited about it but it didn’t fool me. Mostly I tasted protein and ice… it was watery and hollow in flavor. So I get it if you’re skeptical. Once I found my formula, I have NOT GOTTEN off of this thing. I keep waiting to get hooked on something new. But you guys it’s been like three years. And I’m not always tracking! Certainly not always “cutting” (eating in a deficit). But THIS. This is what I want every night until forever.
I wish the details didn’t matter. But they do. Le me tell you; all protein shakes are NOT created equal.
I have fallen in love with this shake. Done the same, every time. I even decided I had to weigh my ice because it was always so hit and miss for me before! I’d see other people enjoying theirs, but then I’d make one and it’d be too watery… or too frothy… or taste like nothing. Or worse, like protein powder. And I’m sipping or spooning, hoping it’s gonna get better as I go. And then annoyed I’ve spent the macros and I’m just all cold and didn’t get to eat anything.
But not this one! I’m obsessed. And I have eaten it essentially every single night for an absurd number of nights. I’m not gonna count.
A few key factors to making this the best protein shake
xanthan gum makes it thick and creamy! But keep reading even if it’s not for you.
The weird name makes it intimidating, but it’s just a plant-based thickener. Xanthan gum is magical in helping it blend up thick and creamy…. more like a dessert, less like a supplement- ew. I linked the exact bag I bought from Amazon. I just leave my ¼ tsp in the bag for easy shake-making! Some people feel bloated or gassy from too much xanthan, so don’t go overboard.
AND, if xanthan doesn’t sit well in your belly, or the name just scares you too much, or you just hate buying stuff you don’t know you’ll use, it’s fine. I’m editing this because in efforts to fix some tummy trouble, I’ve recently stopped using the xanthan and have actually been shocked at how good is still is with frozen banana. Not like using frozen banana is some genius new concept. But I swear I’d tried in the past and it didn’t compare. BUT, at least with my Ninja IQ, a simple 40-50 g frozen-solid banana GETS IT DONE. I don’t even miss it. Still AMAZING. Adds a handful of carbs but less than 10. It’s cool.
A good protein powder
(Finally adding my affiliate links and codes here if you want to use.) My current FAVORITE, is the chocolate by Active Stacks. (Use Lillie for 10% off). It’s a beef protein powder, rather than your typical whey. This means it’s dairy free, and easier on digestion for lots of us. Ingredient list is short and simple and sweetened naturally. It tastes like good chocolate milk. I LOVE it. But I also love going halvesies with another favorite to mix it up. My very favorites to throw in are the Clean Simple Eats S’more and peanut butter cup. (Use Lillie for 10% off) or Bad Athletics Coconut, or Salted Caramel (use BADLILLIE for 10% off) Bowmar Nutrition has a salted caramel egg based protein that’s great mixed with it as well! It smells too sweet but is good mixed in.
The right amount of ice!
It might vary for you, but just finding your sweet spot so it’s not always a crapshoot is key. Mine has been between 185-195 grams of ice.
I wish the blender didn’t matter, but it does. Of course use what you have, and see if you can perfect it! I used to use the Vitamix and it worked, but once I got a Ninja IQ (using an affiliate amazon link) I have NEVER LOOKED BACK. It is by far my favorite way to make this shake now. It’s so small and discrete I feel fine leaving it on the counter which makes it feel so much easier to use every night. And the clean up is such a breeze compared to my big blender! It blends it so fast and so smooth. I worried it was too fast at first but now that I’ve gotten it down, it’s PERFECT every time. (Warning, the large, regular sized Ninja blender does NOT work for this shake. It’ll be icy and sloshy. Nobody wants that.)
The Powdered Peanut Butter
The powdered peanut butter I use is PBFit BARELY STIRRED IN AFTER!!!!!! DON’T BLEND IT IN! It gets lost. Not as special. This is huge. massive. monumental. a must. Of course real peanut butter would be delicious, or cookies, or peanut butter cups…or Ben & Jerry’s– BUT– if you have room for all of that, you probably don’t need to be eating a protein shake in the first place so let’s assume you want to keep it light. 20 grams of powdered peanut butter will only cost you 88 calories of mostly protein and carbs… and will add JUST enough texture and reward to keep you loving it through every bite so you’re not depressed when you hit the bottom of your giant, metal tumbler.
A Giant Metal Tumbler
YES: a giant metal tumbler with a long spoon!! GAME CHANGER. I’m obsessed with the whole situation. Feel free to eat yours out of a bowl and call it “pro-yo” or “protein ice cream”. It was a big dilemma for me… what to call it… but I felt like “shake” was the honest way to go since I’m eating it out of a giant metal cup that reminds me of being a kid… like when you’d order a shake and they brought you your cup AND the leftovers that didn’t fit, in the big metal cup? THE BESSSSSSST THINGGGGGGG EVERRRRRRRR. And now I have it every night. Childhood dreams come true.
And if there’s room OF COURSE TOPPINGS are everything. Almond milk Reddi Whip, and granola used to be all I needed. But now I’m hooked on a good spread haha. The whipped cream, cocoa nibs, corn chex and/or toasted almonds, and always a final pinch of flake salt! I also LOVE 15 grams of a G2G bar (affiliate link to favorite protein bar) at room temp, crumbled up on it when I’m really going for it. For a dairy-free option, Healthy On the Go Bars have some delicious options.
My fingers are tired; ready for a shake.
In my Ninja IQ
- 1.5-2 cups ice 180-200 g
- 3/4-1 cup cashew milk 180-200 g
- 1 Tbsp Califia Farms Almond Milk Creamer (Not essential… just extra creaminess! All flavors are good! 15 g)
- 1 serving of your favorite protein powder 4c/1f/20p (my favorites options are linked below) Usually about 30 grams
- 1-1.5 Tbsp dark or jet black cocoa powder 7-10 g
- 1/4-1/2 tsp Maldon flake salt (don't skip!) A little less if you're using regular kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp stevia if you like things sweeter Optional- I don't use this anymore
- 4-5 squirts of coconut extract Optional- Almond is also amazing, but a little goes far, don't over do it.
- 1/4 tsp xanthan gum don't get heavy handed here, it can get weird with too much! But it is a texture game changer.
The macros are for the shake alone, but this is what I add to MINE every night after it’s blended:
- 2.5 Tbsp 20 g powdered peanut butter barely stirred in to the top for maximum chunkiness (do not blend it in! SO much better this way.)
- 8 Tbsp 20 g almond milk Reddi Whip Coconut is my second fave, use what you love!
- 1 Tbsp roasted cocoa nibs 10 g (these are hard and bitter so be warned, but I love!)
- 1 Handful of corn chex, crushed (10 g) or I LOVE 10 g of toasted almonds when I've got room for more fat.
- 1/4 of a banana diced small to spread the wealth! (35 g) (lately I prefer to blend this in FROZEN instead of the xanthan! You can experiment)
- 1 Handful of rice crispies 5 grams
- 1 Pinch of flake salt
- Add all of the shake ingredients to the jar of your Ninja IQ. (I like to keep all of my bits and pieces in a special shake drawer right near the blender. to simplify the process! I even keep the ¼ tsp measuring spoon in there to use on the salt, stevia, and xanthan.)
- Blend for a full cycle using the Auto IQ Blend button. It will run for 40 seconds, stopping and going. I like to then hit "start" and let it run for and additional 10-20 seconds. This depends on your ice, protein powder, and maybe the temperature of your house! Sometimes I don't need this extra blend. The key is to see it really come together and become lighter in color, then grow taller. If your shake is a little icy, blend longer next time! If it's too frothy or whipped, blend shorter next time.
- Pour it into a big insulated tumbler and top with your favorite toppings. But I'm just gonna tell you, 20 grams of powdered peanut butter stirred in just BARELY so it's nice and cit a little chunky— is ALMOST mandatory. It's magic.
- The macros below are for the shake alone, to make it easier for you to track what you want and what fits for you. But of course I like mine topped like crazy so there's texture in every bite. It's the best thing ever and I never want to break up with it. I like to add the toppings in the order listed. And sometimes crumble 10 grams of G2G bar as well! (More is better ha!) I don't mix in, or layer. But I eat by dunking my long spoon right down the middle almost trying to avoid the toppings. You'll inevitably get plenty stuck to each bite and then there's still so much good stuff left at the bottom! It's an art. Haha.
- Protein Powder: Feel free to use what you have if you love it! These are simply my very favorite NATURALLY sweetened protein powders after trying a LOT haha.
- My current FAVORITE is the chocolate by Active Stack. It’s a hydrolyzed beef protein powder, rather than your typical whey. This means it’s dairy-free, and easier on digestion for lots of us. Ingredient list is very short and simple. It tastes like good chocolate milk. I love it. Their vanilla is also very good and I feel like this brand blends up the very CREAMIEST in the shake. My affiliate code “Lillie” saves 10% on their site.
- For a little variety, I love to do a half scoop of that Active Stacks chocolate with a half scoop of another favorite like the CSE chocolate peanut butter, or s’more. Ross loves the maple donut. LOTS of yummy flavors over there if you love variety. You can also use my affiliate code “Lillie” to save 10% off at CSE.
- I also really like the Bad Athletics Coconut, or Salted Caramel. This is another one I like to combine WITH the chocolate active stacks. You can use my code “badlillie” for 10% off of their site.
- The macros below are for the shake alone. But for my fully topped version, the macros are 426 cal/45C/12.8f/34.6p/9.2 fiber.
- For the shake alone, with NO TOPPINGS, search “Lillie Eats and Tells The shake- no toppings” on My Fitness Pal.
- For the shake with ALL of my toppings: search “Lillie Eats and Tells The shake- with toppings”
- Obviously, use and try to perfect using whatever blender you have! But for me, the Ninja IQ makes this so much smoother and more consistent. It’s small enough that I don’t mind leaving it on the counter, and feels so much quicker to clean than my big blender. We have a Vitamix as well, but once I got the Ninja IQ (NOT THE BIG NINJA) I’ve never gone back. We use it multiple times a day, so we have gone through two, but it’s worth it to me.
- If using a Vitamix or something similar, blend on low to let it get going, then gradually move it up to medium for about a minute and a half. You want to hear the crunching of the ice stop and let it get to a consistent hum. If it’s getting stuck at all, then I raise it to high for a bit to get it all nice and smooth. But I don’t like it frothy so I resist blending on high for too long. Obviously blend to your preference! But you want to see the xanthan really pull it all together into one consistent lighter color. You can tell when it’s really pulled together.