THE BEST PROTEIN SHAKE
This is one of those, seems-too-easy to put on the blog kind of “recipes.” Especially because I do not consider 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.
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 kick the need for sweet and feel invincible. But honestly, I’m not sure I want to kick it! 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.
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. But 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 two years. And I’m not always tracking! But THIS. This is what I want every night until forever.
I wish the details didn’t matter. But they do. 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
- The xanthan gum to make it thick and creamy! . The weird name makes it intimidating, but it’s just a plant-based thickener. Xanthan gum is key to 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 1/4 tsp in the bag for easy shake-making! Some people feel bloated or gassy from too much xanthan, so don’t go overboard.
- 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.
- The Blender: 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.)
- The powdered peanut butter: I use PBFit 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.
- 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.
- 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 or lately toasted almonds, occassionally banana, and rice crispies. 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.
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
- 1/2 tsp Maldon flake salt A little less if you're using regular kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp stevia Optional, just for added sweetness
- 4-5 squirts of coconut extract 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!
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 or fat free reddi whip also good
- 1 Tbsp roasted cocoa nibs 10 g
- 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)
- 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 1/4 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! You want to see it really come together and get 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.
- My current FAVORITE protein powder is the chocolate by Active Stack. 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. Sometimes I use a whole scoop, sometimes I do half a serving, and half a serving of Bad Athletics Coconut, or Salted Caramel. Bowmar Nutrition has a salted caramel egg based protein that’s great mixed with it as well!
- 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”
- 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!
- Obviously, use and try to perfect 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. Once I got it, 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.