Protein powder doesn’t taste good. No matter the brand, no matter the type of protein- it’s all bad. Although it boasts flavors like “chocolate chip cookie dough” or “tropical coconut,” it leaves an overwhelming, artificial taste in your mouth like bubblegum toothpaste or a vanilla latte.
And I’ve been buying it for years. It’s the perfect thing to make smoothies more filling, sweeten a baked good, or stir into a bowl of oatmeal for a boost of nutritional value. It’s the one product I use for myself but wouldn’t recommend to anyone else.
Then I figured out a way to make protein powder not suck.
This method is limiting, because it relies on one powerful ingredient to offset the saccharine taste of most protein powders. So if you don’t like chocolate, you can skip the next two paragraphs.
For the past two weeks I’ve been stirring a spoonful of unsweetened cocoa powder into my protein-rich overnight oats and it’s morphed them from a tolerable, post-workout health concoction to a decadent breakfast treat (that might actually be more healthy because of chocolate’s nutritional value).
The rich bitterness of the cocoa powder stomps down the cloying sweetness of the protein while preserving its ability to keep me full for hours. Breakfast tastes like a healthy oatmeal chocolate chip cookie and I can’t think of a better way to start my morning.
Lunch has been a non-stop parade of leftovers as I desperately try to clean out my fridge before Thanksgiving. This effort often feels like a game of whack-a-mole; I devour last night’s scraps of roast chicken only to find leftover beef tenderloin pop up in it’s place.
In the rushed mornings before work, I don’t have time to put together a proper lunch so I dump the contents of my refrigerator into my bag and head out the door. Last week I packed an entire loaf of bread because I didn’t have time to cut it. I ended up keeping it in my drawer at work and chipping away at it all week- Desk Bread is now a work pantry staple.
For dinner this week, I pulled from my arsenal of dorm room recipes (aka, tiny kitchen and no time recipes) to arm myself with quick and easy meals in the fateful days before Thanksgiving. Stir-fry, turkey burgers, and, of course, pasta with tomato sauce will all be back (and better than ever) this week as I taper my cooking hours before the marathon event on Thursday.
The stir-fry in particular reminded me of the power of a simple, delicious meal to give you the confidence (and the fuel) to push through a hectic week. I whipped up my favorite go-to stir-fry sauce (the first recipe ever posted on this blog), poured a hazy American IPA, and spent a solid 20 minutes luxuriating over (three servings of) a bowl of crisp-tender vegetables and tofu washed in a salty-sweet sauce, singing with fresh lime juice.
I cleared my plate, did some dishes, took a deep breath- and started cooking again. That Thanksgiving lasagna won’t make itself.