Tag Archives: vegan protein

Mint Choc Chip Shake feat. Pulsin

Smoothies are back for me in a big way. I went through the whole winter really avoiding them along with salads, which makes a lot of sense really, our bodies should be craving warming, comforting foods during winter and light refreshing ones during summertime. The recent heatwave in London has been pretty brutal, early 20’s are fine, but 30+ and it just feels miserable in and outside, and I just want to eat really cooling, hydrating foods/drinks.

I’ve been trying to cool off post run with a refreshing breakfast smoothie and one of my favourites right now is this mint chocolate chip shake. Best enjoyed in the sunshine of course!

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Mint Choc Chip Shake | (Serves 1)
1-2 frozen Bananas (You can replace 1 of the bananas with 1/2 avocado to make this thicker and creamier- I highly recommend doing this)
Handful of Fresh Mint
Handful of Spinach
2 Tbsp of Pulsin Pea Protein
1 Tbsp Cacao/Cocoa Powder
1-2 Cups of Almond Milk or alternative
1 Tbsp Cacao Nibs/Chocolate Chips

Blend Ingredients together, if you are drinking this I would recommend blending the cacao nibs in. If like me you like to eat your smoothies in a bowl, then use the cacao nibs as a crunchy topping.

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As I’ve mentioned before I don’t really feel that protein powders are all that necessary, but they can be useful at times, if you are in a rush, or don’t really fancy eating a big meal after a workout. The pea protein boosted up the protein content of this smoothie, for muscle recovery post workout, higher satiation, and less chance of blood sugar spikes causing energy crashes afterwards. It’s 80% protein, so higher than some of the other plant based proteins out there, and has a really neutral flavour so works well in sweet or savoury dishes. There are a huge range of protein powders available on the market, I would really recommend looking at the ingredients list and trying to get one that has as little ingredients as possible, many are packed with artificial flavourings and sweeteners which I wouldn’t want to be consuming too regularly.

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Pulsin make a range of whey protein and Vegan proteins, and it’s best to really try them out to see what you like. I like rice, pea and hemp proteins, and find they work well with different flavours. I like the Pulsin range because they don’t have loads of flavourings or any other weird stuff, just 100% pea or rice or whey protein in the bag.

I’ve been a fan of Pulsin for a while, and am really pleased to see them doing so well, and their range expanding too. The brand recently had a bit of a makeover for it’s 10th anniversary, and they have some ace looking new packaging so look out for that in stores. As well as protein powders, they also make a range of snack bars– useful if you are on the go, and they taste great too. The protein bars have a decent whack of protein and unlike many out there they aren’t super high in sugar either, they also avoid artificial sweeteners, flavourings, preservatives and colourings, which make them a win in my eyes- I love the mint choc chip one. They also make a range of delicious raw choc brownies, which are great for a treat-the newest one the peanut choc chip which I recently tried, is delicious.

We are spoilt for choice these days in terms of protein powders and snack bars, but I would really recommend checking Pulsin out if you haven’t come across them before. You can order directly from them online, they also do mixed cases of bars, and subscription boxes too if you can’t decide what flavour to try. They also have heaps of amazing recipes on their website, if you are struggling for ideas to use your protein powder.

 

Disclaimer: I was sent the Pulsin products for review, all opinions are my own.

 

Cashew + Coconut Flapjacks

A while ago I was asked if I would like to try some of the products from The Hut, My Protein and My Vitamins. I was kindly sent an enormous bag of hemp protein (enough for a lifetime I think), a big tub of cashew butter and some spirulina. These are all products I use regularly although I haven’t used these brands before.

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I have been making good use of them, hemp protein and spirulina always feature in my daily smoothie whether that is for breakfast or post workout. The flavours can be a bit strong and earthy for some, but I’ve worked out that hemp protein works really well with cacao/carob powder, so I add a few tsps of that to a smoothie and it’s quite palatable. Of course frozen banana is always my base of choice to sweeten my smoothies too.

Hemp is pretty much the best protein powder you can use, as it contains all the essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals too. It’s raw, contains no added ingredients and is easy to digest as well. If you can get past the taste or mask it in some way then it’s definitely the one to go for.

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Spirulina is an algae and is awesome because it contains all the essential nutrients we need. It’s very rich in plant based protein, iron and B vitamins hence why as a Vegan I use it on a regular basis. It’s great for energy levels and immunity so I always add a tsp to my smoothies each day.

With the addition of hemp and spirulina, your smoothie might look like pond water but if you add in some tasty extras it will still taste delicious!

As a big nut butter fan I was keen to try the cashew butter although slightly dissappointed to find that it had sunflower oil in it, this is not something I would usually consume as it’s something I would consider refined and processed and actually quite harmful if consumed on a regular basis. However I looked past that to try the product and made these delicious flapjack/granola bars using them:

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Cashew + Coconut Flapjacks

  • 2 cups of Oats
  • 1 cup of Dates
  • 1 ripe Banana
  • 1/3 cup Shredded Coconut
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 cup of Cashew Butter
  • 1 tbsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground Flaxseed

Process all the ingredients together in a food processor until they come together, add a tiny bit of water if necessary. Press into greased baking dish and bake for 20 mins at 160-180 degrees F until golden brown. I cooked at 160F but my oven tends to run hot and burn everything if I have it higher than that, so keep an eye! Allow to cool before slicing. I got 9 big bars out of it, but you can make them smaller. I think they are a good snack size as 9 though.

These bars are totally delicious, they’ve got a lovely texture from the cashew butter like a cross between a granola bar/flapjack and lots of good flavours coming through. Best of all there is no refined sugar, they are totally sweet enough from the dates and banana and packed with loads of other good stuff. Whole food granola/flapjack bars that taste awesome and are awesome for you :)

My Protein has a huge range of sport specific products and they are reasonably priced, they also have loads of voucher codes for extra savings too.

 

Disclaimer: I was sent these products for review, that has in no way influenced content or opinion within this post.

Plant Based Sports Nutrition- The Basics

Sports nutrition basically is the supplementation of your additional diet with special products to ensure that physically active people are meeting the extra demands placed on their body by exercise.

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Regularly taking part in strenuous exercise increases your body’s requirements for all the basic nutrients- carbohydrates, fats, proteins as well as vitamins minerals and enzymes. People who take part in exercise regularly have much higher demands in terms of nutrients than the average persons. Hence why when the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of certain vitamins and minerals are discussed this is actually a minimum you should be getting, and active people will have much higher requirements than these numbers.

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Carbohydrates are the best fuel for energy production. They can be stored in the body as glycogen in the muscles and liver and they act as a ready available source of energy for the body during strenuous exercise. As I talked about in the previous post, there are two types. Simple carbohydrates like dried fruit such as dates and figs are great for an instant energy boost. I used those fruit leather type bars during marathon training runs as they gave me an instant hit of energy. Complex carbohydrates give a sustained energy release, things like oatmeal the morning before a longer run provide a slow release to get you through your workout. I know that if I don’t eat enough carbohydrates my energy levels are very low and I struggle through workouts.

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Protein is made up of amino acids and serves to build and repair the muscles. When we exercise the muscle must begin to break down (catabolic phase) before we can build it up (anabolic phase). Protein is essential for this building phase, and if we are lacking in protein it can cause muscle breakdown. Well planned diets (even vegan ones-surprise!) make it easy to get good amounts of protein in. Plant based sources like beans, legumes, pseudograins, nuts and seeds provide really good amounts of protein.

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Fats are also a good source of stored energy. Essential fatty acids (the good fats that our bodies need!) help with inflammation (particularly good for the joints- especially if you are a runner!) as well as helping to metabolise fats for energy. That’s right EFA’s like coconut oil actually help you to burn fat! I like to get my good fats from nuts, seeds, avocado’s, coconut products and omega oils. I used Viridian’s joint oil during marathon training, it’s a blend of seed oils as well as anti-inflammatory spices like ginger, turmeric and chillies, and antioxidants like raspberry, cranberry and pomegranate. It was absolutely amazing as I started taking it when I had really bad knee pain and it cleared it up within days!

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I personally like to use a protein powder supplement after working out just as I find it easier that way to get in high amounts of protein, as I never like eating too big a meal straight after a workout. Whey protein is considered to be the most nutritionally complete protein, but some people do find it difficult to tolerate on the digestive system and it can cause problems like bloating.

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As a vegan I use plant based proteins like Sunwarrior’s brown rice or warrior blend proteins. They contain all the essential amino acids, and are easy to digest. Amino acids like L-glutamine are essential post workout as the body becomes seriously depleted during strenuous exercise and a standard diet is unlikely to provide high enough amounts to replenish the body’s stores. I like to make a green smoothie with a scoop or two of plant protein after exercise. Protein is generally taken after exercise to repair the muscles, although there is a lot of thought about the benefits of taking it before/after workouts.

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I also like to use green foods like spirulina, chlorella and wheatgrass, they are great sources of natural plant based vitamins and minerals including the B vitamins which are great for energy levels. Wheatgrass contains all the essential amino acids and spirulina is a source of plant based iron and protein. Spirulina is 60-70% protein (more than 300 times that of fish) and 58 times richer in iron than spinach! Runners, especially females tend to have much lower iron stores than the general population so it is quite important to get adequate amounts. Iron is essential for energy production and metabolism. I have also just started using Sunwarrior’s activated barley which is said to be great for energy levels, so I will let you know how I get on with that.

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Another important mineral that pretty much every member of the population is lacking in is magnesium, it is vital for energy production and a deficiency can cause chronic fatigue and cramping. Leafy greens like kale are good sources of magnesium as well as nuts and seeds. Coconut water is also a good source during exercise but only if the duration is less than an hour, anything higher than that requires something with more sodium such as Viridians Sports Electrolyte fix. I love to use that product during and after a particularly tough workout as it a great natural source of the minerals (magnesium, potassium, sodium and chloride) that we lose in sweat, it’s very important to replace these as otherwise it can lead to dehydration.

Other supplements I take that are related to sports are Rhodiola Rosea which is an adatogenic herb supporting the adrenal glands which can become stressed in those who do a lot of exercise leading to adrenal fatigue. I also take maca for it’s energy benefits as well as it’s nourishing effect on the adrenal glands.

Sports nutrition is a vast subject which I’ve just begun to scrape the surface of, but I hope this is of some benefit to anyone out there doing a little or a lot of exercise. Although we all think we eat the perfect healthy balanced diet, the truth is that our demand for nutrients can be a lot higher if we are active, and with high pressure lifestyles and produce lacking the vitamins and minerals it once did, supplementation becomes increasingly important. Supplementation should never be in place of a healthy diet, but just a way to top up on your levels of certain things in order to meet your body’s increased energy demands.