As an athlete, one of my major concerns is getting enough protein to rebuild my muscles after a tough workout. One popular way to get your protein fix is by drinking a protein shake - usually a drink made with some kind of uber-processed powder...yuck!
I was hard-pressed to find a protein shake recipe that didn’t begin with “First, get your favorite manufactured protein powder …” So I decided to create a protein shake made completely out of whole foods, but still packed with protein and completely vegan.
Read on to find out:
- Why you should make your own whole food protein shake instead of using a powder
- Why moringa tea powder is the best secret ingredient for a vegan protein shake
- The step-by-step recipe for my moringa plant based protein shake
- How to adjust this protein shake recipe for keto and paleo diets
- How much protein this recipe contains, and how it measures up to commercial protein shakes
Let’s get into it!
Why Should You Make Your Own Protein Shake?
Commercial protein shakes have taken the fitness world by storm, and for good reason. After all, who doesn’t want to drink a yummy vanilla-flavored milkshake and get tons of protein into the bargain?
However, there is some doubt about how healthy protein powders actually are. Because they are considered dietary supplements, protein powders are not regulated by the FDA(!!!), which means there’s no way of knowing whether they actually contain the ingredients listed on the container.
Some protein powders also contain a ton of added sugars and calories, and we're read a few even contain toxic heavy metals (references below). Basically, if you’re buying a protein powder, you have to do your research and be super careful about what you’re buying.
However, you could instead make your own protein shake out of whole-food ingredients so that you know exactly what’s going into it.
It’s not all about “protein powder bad,” either. When you consume protein from whole food sources, you also get tons of extra vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients into the bargain.
Furthermore, if you plan is to use protein shakes as a meal substitute, you’ll likely be much better off with a whole food version. Your body needs more than just protein, so getting those extra whole-food benefits will be essential for helping you stay healthy.
What Is Moringa Tea Powder? Why Should You Use It in a Protein Shake?
Moringa tea powder comes from the leaves of the moringa oleifera tree - a plant native to India which has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. In the modern day, moringa still has tons of uses, thanks to its high nutrient content.
Moringa has a plethora of health benefits, but for the purposes of this post, we’re going to focus on the protein.
Your body needs 20 amino acids, 11 of which it can produce itself. You need to get the other nine from food sources. Most animal products contain these nine amino acids, which is great … unless you’re vegan.
Complete proteins (that is, foods that contain all nine essential amino acids) are very rare in the plant world. But surprise - moringa is one of them! And at 5.4g of protein per tablespoon, it’s the perfect ingredient for a vegan protein shake.
To read more about moringa’s protein content and why it’s great for workouts, check out this post.
So, while it's relatively new and unknown in the good ol' US of A, know you know! Let’s combine this secret ingredient with some other high protein vegan foods to create an all-natural superfood smoothie alternative to commercial protein shakes!
My All-Natural Moringa Vegan Protein Shake Recipe
This recipe makes up to 28 ounces of protein shake, which means you’ll easily be able to fill up your protein shake container.
The shake’s flavor varies depending on what milk you use and how much agave you add, but it generally tastes mildly sweet and grassy with some nice almond undertones. You can also add your own favorite high-protein ingredients or a little frozen fruit to mix things up. If you think you've come up with anything particularly delicious, let us know in the comments!
This recipe makes a thick, creamy shake, but if you prefer your protein shakes thinner, play around with the ratio of your milk to the other ingredients such the almond butter and avocado. Depending on the milk you use, this could impact the protein content, so use soy milk if possible.
The reason I recommend soy milk is twofold. First, it contains almost as much protein as cow’s milk. Second, it’s a complete protein like moringa!
If you’re unable to drink soy milk, the next best option is pea milk. It’s not a complete protein, but it does have a similar amount of protein to soy milk.
2 tbsp Matcha Alternatives’ Superior Organic Moringa Powder
2 tbsp almond butter
2 cups of your preferred milk alternative (soy milk recommended)
2 tbsp chia seeds
Agave nectar to taste
Chuck all the ingredients into a blender and mix on high until everything is blended together. Then pour into your favorite container and enjoy!
Most of the ingredients in this smoothie are keto and paleo-friendly, but if you’re following either of those diets, you’ll have to be aware of what sweetener you use and be sure to carefully select your milk.
Adjusting This Recipe for a Keto Protein Shake
Some milks are way too high in carbs for a keto diet. Soy milk and nut milks tend to be safe bets - luckily, I highly recommend using soy milk making this a vegan high protein recipe!
While we’re at it, you’ll have to skip the agave nectar if you’re on a keto diet. That stuff just contains too many carbs.
Adjusting This Recipe for a Paleo Protein Shake
Like keto followers, you’ll need to select your milk carefully. Soy milk is unfortunately not paleo-friendly. Cow’s milk is in a bit of a gray area, but if it’s safe for you to drink and you’ve decided you’re okay with drinking it on this diet, then go for it - it’s high in protein and contains all nine essential amino acids.
The most paleo-friendly option is probably coconut milk or nut milks, but make sure the milk you’re buying isn’t full of processed junk. Sure, your smoothie won’t contain as much protein, but there will still be plenty of whole food goodness in there.
Finally, if you want some sweetener in your shake, you’ll have to replace the agave nectar with raw honey. Agave is much too purified for a paleo diet.
How Much Protein Does This Recipe Have?
Time to calculate just how much protein goodness you’ll get out of this shake!
The one caveat here is that not all the protein content in this recipe is comprised of complete plant proteins. Of course, all protein is good, but complete proteins are especially important for your health.
This is why I highly recommend using soy milk for this protein shake. Soy is a complete plant protein, while pea milk is not. Cow’s milk will pack the same complete protein punch as soy milk, but we’re sticking to vegan ingredients for this one.
Let’s assume that you’re using soy milk. Here is a breakdown of the protein content for all the ingredients in this shake, with the complete proteins marked with an asterisk:
- 2 tbsp Matcha Alternatives’ Superior Organic Moringa Powder (10.8g protein)*
- 2 tbsp almond butter (6.8g protein)
- 2 cups of soy milk (14g protein)*
- 2 tbsp chia seeds (4g protein)
- 1 avocado (4g protein)
- Agave nectar to taste (0g protein)
This means that, if you make this recipe with soy milk as recommended, the total protein content will be a whopping 39.6g, of which 24.8g will be complete protein! Of course, that’s spread out over 28 fluid ounces, so you probably won’t drink all of that at once unless you go full beast mode at the gym!
How Does This Recipe Compare to Commercial Protein Shakes?
Now, the acid test! For this purpose, I’m going to pick on one of the most popular vegan protein shake brands to really push us in this competition: Orgain’s Organic Plant-Based Vegan All-In-One Protein Shake.
According to its listing on the Vitamin Shoppe website, this protein shake contains 16g of protein per 11oz serving.
With a little back-of-an-envelope math, we can calculate that the commercial protein shake contains 1.45g of protein per fluid ounce. By comparison, our moringa protein shake recipe contains 1.41g of protein per fluid ounce.
That means the commercial protein shake contains a smidge more protein than our homemade one. But remember: ours is made with whole food ingredients, meaning that you’ll get a bunch more nutrients and vitamins as well, and for a cheaper overall price. Crucially, they are more bio-available as, I'm sure you've read many times already, there is a general consensus that consuming vitamins and other nutrients through food leads to greater absorption.
Incidentally, only one of the ingredients listed in this commercial protein shake’s ingredients is actually a complete protein - hemp. All the others are not complete proteins (by the way, if you want to chuck some hemp seeds into your protein shake, go right ahead!).
It’s hard to tell for sure, since there are no precise ingredient amounts listed on the commercial shake’s page (which worries us no end!), but it’s possible that your homemade shake contains more complete plant protein than a commercial brand and effectively as least as much in total protein. Pretty cool, yes?
A Note from Lauren
Moringa powder is obviously great for protein shakes, but it’s a versatile ingredient in the kitchen in general. You can add it to stews and curries, make it into a delicious whipped dalgona latte, and even use it to make popsicles!
If you make your own moringa protein shake - or any other recipe involving moringa powder - we’d love to see it, so be sure to post it on Instagram! Tag us @matchaalternatives and use the hashtag #matchaalternatives, and you might get a feature :D
Like matcha tea, this powder is also perfect for your smoothie, latte, cereal or in baking to get your daily antioxidant hit.
Loads of antioxidants first thing in the morning and wakes you up with a coffee-like burst of caffeine, without the crash or shakes!
A gently calming drink, this deliciously creative honeybush-chamomile blend is designed for tranquility.
All of the information regarding the herbs, botanicals, minerals, vitamins, etc., is information drawn from traditional use data or academic research and should be regarded as such. If you, the reader, has a health or medical concern, please consult your healthcare professional. The information found here is not meant to diagnose, treat, prescribe or cure and has not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is for educational purposes only.
References for Moringa Powder Vegan Protein Shake Recipe
From our Own Blog:
“The Hidden Dangers of Protein Powders.” Harvard Health Publishing, April 10, 2020. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-hidden-dangers-of-protein-powders
“Original Nutritious Pea Milk. Ripple Foods. https://www.ripplefoods.com/original-plant-milk/
Leiva, Courtney. “What's the Deal with Pea Protein and Should You Give It a Try?” Shape, 2019. https://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/diet-tips/pea-protein-powder-benefits-why-you-should-give-it-try
Morgan, Stephany. “Moringa: The Complete Vegan Protein.” Matcha Alternatives, January 28, 2020. https://matchaalternatives.com/blogs/the-ma-blog/moringa-vegan-protein
Lehman, Shereen. “Almond Butter Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits.” VeryWellFit, April 8, 2020. https://www.verywellfit.com/almond-butter-nutrition-facts-calories-and-health-benefits-4115426
Krans, Brian. “Comparing Milks: Almond, Dairy, Soy, Rice, and Coconut.” Healthline, March 5, 2020. https://www.healthline.com/health/milk-almond-cow-soy-rice
“1 Tbsp Chia Seed.” Nutritionix. https://www.nutritionix.com/food/chia-seed/1-tbsp
Whitbread, Daisy. “Top 10 Fruits Highest in Protein.” My Food Data, June 27, 2020. https://www.myfooddata.com/articles/fruits-high-in-protein.php
“Organic Plant-Based Vegan All-In-One Protein Shake - Smooth Chocolate (12 Pack).” Vitamin Shoppe. https://www.vitaminshoppe.com/p/orgain-orgain-vegan-smooth-chocolate-12-drinks/o4-1009
Bjarnadottir, Adda. “6 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds.” Healthline, September 11, 2018. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-health-benefits-of-hemp-seeds