Plant Power

Hi friends! So it’s been a little over a week since adjusting my diet based on my newly discovered food sensitivities. I think I have been doing a good job at staying positive, trying new things and tackling this head on. As you know, my main concern in all of this is making sure I get enough protein. Running and Crossfit are certainly hard on my muscles (even though they are little) so I need lots of protein in order to refuel. I am striving to have chicken or fish four times a week for dinner but I am sticking to my meatless lunches. This week my protein source for lunch is lentils… just one cup of lentils packs 16g of protein! #plantpower

Without yogurt and eggs, breakfast has been a bit trickier. While I try to get most of my protein from real food, I do use protein powder. I had always been a whey protein powder gal, but now that dairy is out I have been vigorously taste testing and experimenting with plant based powders. Plant based protein powders are easily digestible and have been proven to fight inflammation and reduce muscle soreness more effectively than dairy-based proteins. [Source]

Here’s how it’s been going…

Plant power

1. Vega: Vega is a combination of plant protein: pea, flax, brown rice and hemp. One serving (105 calories) provides 11g of protein.

I typically use Vega [the energizing smoothie blend in vanilla] to make shakes/smoothies. I love it for “green smoothies” and it even proved successful for overnight oats… although the mixture was a little green. Like seriously too green to even photograph… so this recycled photograph of my green smoothie will have to do. In the smoothie: 1 scoop Vega, 1 banana, 1 cup hemp milk and a big handful of spinach.

Green smoothie

2. Sunwarrior: Sunwarrior protein powder is another great plant-based option. It does not have a chalky taste, it’s non-GMO, gluten-free, soy free and dairy free. I bought a few sample packs to try both of the Sunwarrior blends: the classic and the Warrior blend.

The classic blend is made up of raw whole grain brown rice protein. In just 80 calories, it packs 17g of protein. The Warrior blend is made up of a combination of protein: cranberry, pea, hemp seed and triglycerides. It has a bit more protein then the classic blend — 20g per serving.

I liked both of the blends in oatmeal and overnight oats.

For the hot oatmeal I combine 1/3 cup quick cooking oats, 1 scoop Sunwarrior, 2/3 cup water, 1/2 a sliced banana. Mix it all up. Microwave for 1 minute. Stop and stir. Microwave for another 45 seconds.

Chocolate oats
Chocolate banana oats using the warrior chocolate blend.

For the overnight oats I combine 1/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats, 1 scoop Sunwarrior, 2/3 cup hemp milk and a few mix-ins (like dried fruit or seeds)

Overnight oats
Banana raisin overnight oats using the classic vanilla blend.

3. Hemp protein powder: Hemp protein powder is a near-complete plant based, vegan protein. It is high in fiber and omega-6 fatty acids. I have been using the Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro 70 which is made up of hemp protein concentrate and natural plant extracts. Four tablespoons contain 140 calories and 20g of protein.

For the hot oatmeal: I combine 1/3 cup quick cooking oats, 2-3 tbsp hemp protein powder and 2/3 cup water. Mix it all up. Microwave for 1 minute. Stop and stir. Microwave for another 45 seconds. Add toppings.

Hemp oatmeal
Hemp oatmeal topped with warmed frozen raspberries and hazelnut butter.

Thanks for the hemp protein suggestion Danielle!

I am really glad that I found three great and different protein powder options. This process has taught me how important it is to have variety in our diets because we can clearly develop intolerances to even “healthy” foods. I’ve been switching up my breakfasts with smoothies, quinoa flakes, Ezekiel cereal/bread and an oat, quinoa, chia and amaranth hot cereal. Phew! Don’t want to develop an oat intolerance :) I’m still working on perfecting vegan protein pancakes… it’s harder than it sounds.

Quinoa and oat

So it turns out things aren’t so bad after all. Sure I miss my egg white and spinach scrambles and greek yogurt and chocolate chips but hey, if this is what it’s gotta be like for awhile to figure out my tummy troubles then I am committed.

Sometimes you just gotta make lemonade from lemons… and thankfully I’m not sensitive to lemons.

Hope you have a wonderful day!

Disclaimer: I was in no way compensated for this post — I just genuinely like these products and thought you might like them too!

Questions of the day… 

Have you tried Vega, Sunwarrior or Hemp protein powders?

What are your thoughts on plant based protein powders? 

Vegans — how do you up your protein at breakfast?


71 thoughts on “Plant Power

  1. I tried Vega protein powder last fall — made a batch of “pancakes” — but it was too chalky and neon green for my liking… I think that is the only stack of ‘cakes that I’ve never finished :P I’ve heard great things about Sunwarrior though!

  2. The Hemp Protein looks great – I haven’t tried that one. I love Vega and Sun Warrior, both excellent options. I like to rotate between overnight oats and quinoa. The quinoa adds a good serving of protein for breakfast and it is delicious.

  3. Yay! I’m glad to hear that you’ve been managing well and that it hasn’t been as bad as you thought it’d be — how are you feeling, though? Have you noticed any improvements with your stomach?

    I’ve tried all those protein powders, and I have to say that Vega was probably my favourite — I used the Choc-a-lot flavour, though, which I liked a lot more than the vanilla one.

    1. Thanks girly! So far I have been feeling really good and pain free but I don’t want to get excited because I think it is too early to tell. I didn’t love the Vega chocolate flavor in a smoothie but maybe I will give it another shot.

  4. I’ve never tried a plant-based protein powder, and I don’t generally like the taste of other protein powders, so I don’t use them much. But it’s great that there are plant-based sources out there that are working for you!
    Also, lentils are definitely the best. I had no idea they have so much protein!

  5. I really wanted to love Vega, as it seems everyone does, however I found it to be quite chalky & just not that great in taste. Maybe it’s just me? Ha! How do you like Hemp Milk btw?

    1. I always mix Vega with lots of goodies.. like spinach and bananas. The hemp milk is pretty good… not almond but okay. It’s a bit thicker but mostly fine.

  6. This was super helpful! Glad you are having some success with the protein powders. I am so bad at rotating my foods – it is hard – but definitely needed at times!

  7. I have tried brown rice protein powder before, but not one of the brands you have above. Mine was on the less expensive side, and the taste definitely suffered. I was pretty turned off by it, but once my budget has a little more room I want to give Sunwarrior a try.

  8. :( Sorry to hear about your food sensitivities, love. I’ve been there and it can be tricky. Although, I have realized that we tend to build it up as being worse than it actually is. It just takes a different way of thinking, and then once you’re in the groove it’s fairly easy. It’s just establishing the new habit that takes some getting used to.

    Funny you should ask about veg proteins – I went to pick up a bag of plain SW yesterday and they were out, so I managed to score a sample of the chocolate MCT blend. I hope it’s good – I REALLY despise stevia, so hopefully I can’t taste it. I use the same Manitoba Harvest that you do too, and switch them up for variety. Oh! And I love me some good quality grass fed whey, too. (Raw Organic Whey is my fav brand).

    Lastly, VEGA. I love their ingredient list, but can’t use it because of the added sweeteners in ALL of them! Why, Vega WHY?

    1. Thanks girl! It’s definitely gotten easier. Oh I feel ya on stevia and Vega’s ingredients aren’t ideal so I’m trying to stick with the others. How do you use the Manitoba Harvest?

  9. It is so great how you are listening to your body and finding out what you can and can’t eat. I am glad you shared about these protein powders, because I would like to try some plant based protein powders. And I am currently out of my vanilla protein powder, so it is time for me to buy some more! :)

  10. I LOVE all things vega!!! I’ve tried most of their products and my favorites would definitely be the vanilla protein powder and then the chocolate nutritional shake :)

    I’ve also never experienced any negative side effects while eating their products. When I’ve tried other protein powders, like whey or egg white based, I would have horrible stomach aches!

    However, everyone is different, so some people can tolerate those protein powders and others cannot, just have to see what works

  11. Food sensitivities are no fun, but I’m glad to hear that you’re progressing and are finding foods that work for you. The protein powder I use is PlantFusion. It’s my favorite and tastes delicious in smoothies!

  12. I’ve never tried protein powders, but I am proud of you for trying so many new things and not getting discouraged. There’s no way I would be taking this as well as you are. But it looks like you’re discovering new things that you ALSO like along the way. Plus I think having the chicken and fish but sticking to meatless lunches is a great idea.

    I’m not vegetarian, but my officemate is, and she has chickpeas all the time for protein. Apparently they are a powerhouse food, and I don’t think they are on your hit list (are they?).

  13. Looks like you are tackling this pretty darn good missy! Great Job!

    I just had some labs done last week for food allergies and got my results yesterday, no grains for me and I need to limit my intake on dairy products as well. I don’t have to cut them completely, but I have to minimize the intake on mostly milk, yogurts, and cheese. Does the hemp protein contain any grains at all? If not I will need to try this asap!

    1. I’m glad you found things out! I am almost 100% sure that hemp is grain free but I’d double check. (I’ll do a bit more research too because I don’t always trust the internet)

  14. I like your rundown of all of these protein powders.

    Are you feeling any better from cutting your sensitive foods out? If you are- hurray! :D But if not, I’ll just add my two cents in and say that sometimes you really do get worse before you get better and it can take awhile for all of that to get out of your system. Plus, it may take adding back in one of those foods and feeling the side effects to realize that it’s actually working! (Just had to cover both sides there ;) ).

    Really though- Hope you are feeling better and good luck with the vegan protein pancake! I’m sure you’ve already done tons of research on how to get a great texture with them, but I had to do a little linking up because I found some good-looking ones that you may have not spotted yet: and I don’t think you can have all of the ingredients (like with the almonds) in those recipes, but they may give some good ideas proportion-wise. Plus the one is actually from VEGA so it should go well with your powder :D

    1. Thank you so much for the links Madison! I am feeling better :) I think it’s too early to totally tell but so far things have been great. I hope to make some delicious pancakes this weekend!

  15. I love Vega for smoothies (you have to try the Vanilla Chai – SO good!), but sadly it’s not great for baking, it leaves an aftertaste that I don’t love. So impressed with your attitude on all of this!!! Can you tell if it’s making a difference in your tummy troubles or is it too early?

    1. I totally agree on the Vega aftertaste in baking. This past week I have felt great (really little to no troubles) but I don’t want to get ahead of myself… I do think it’s too early to make any conclusions!

  16. Amy, I’m not a vegan, nor do I use a lot of plant-based protein powders, but I have to say that I am AMAZED at your willpower and your ability to completely overhaul your diet. I’ve known for a long time that the foods I eat are upsetting my stomach, but I am much too stubborn to give up almond butter and chocolate.

    Do you recommend the food sensitivity test to others, or do you know how common they are? It looks like it worked for you, since it gave you a lot of information that you didn’t have before. I’ve wanted to do one for a while, but I had trouble finding a doctor. Was it hard for you? Were you nervous to know the results, or are you grateful that you know what’s going on now? Seriously, good for you – this is an inspiration!

    1. Thank you for the lovely comment and support Rachel! Oh how I miss almond butter and chocolate already. I certainly recommend the test — I am not sure if I totally “agree” with it 100% but I truly believe that knowledge is power… if we can learn more about our body and see if making changes might help then why not!
      I found this naturopath through my mom’s friend. I was definitely nervous about the results (because I feared it would be all my favorite things… and it mostly was) but now I am trying to look at it as an adventure.

  17. I haven’t tried any of those plant based protein powders – so I sure appreciate your reviews!
    Girl – your self discipline is AMAZING! I am lactose intolerant – but if a really wonderful ice cream flavor arrests my attention, I gladly let my tastebuds indulge – no matter what my stomach might be saying – clearly, YOU are a wonderful role model as to how to treat your body right and I can learn lots from ya :)
    Hoping you are able to conquer your stomach woes and get to feeling 100% soon

    1. Thankfully I haven’t been faced with ice cream yet (I love ice cream too!) you are so sweet… I hope I am on my way to feeling 100% too

  18. Yay for lentils! I actually haven’t eaten them in a while. I’ll have to change that.
    I think your changes to your diet are making for super healthy eats, which is a good thing. I’m sure it isn’t easy but it looks like you’re doing great.

    I’ve never tried Vega but I like Sunwarrior a lot. Another one I’ve been enjoying is Amazing Meal. I like the one loaded with greens. I feel brand new after a smoothie with some of that stuff!

    1. Ooo I’ve never heard of Amazing Meal! I’m learning that there are so many options. Loving lentils too… inexpensive, easy and versatile.

  19. I’m currently in protein powder experiment mode. I’ve never used it before, so I started with a whey protein but the more I talk to people the more I really want to switch it up and do my own research on the different benefits.

    Keep it going with the new foods!! I give you so much credit for sticking with it and really trying to embrace it :). I’d be elbow deep in a tub of ice cream by now ha!

    1. Even when I used whey mostly, I switched it up with Vega. Whey was definitely hard on my stomach but everyone is different. I’d be curious to hear which one you try.

  20. hemp protein is tasteless? Man I wish I had your taste buds! I like using it, but I always have to add in things to try and mask it! I like Sunwarrior a ton and I like Vega too although sometimes it’s flavour bugs me- I think it’s the stevia!

    Good job powering through with this- it will get easier!

    1. I feel like tasteless was the wrong word… it was the least recognizable of the three. Since it does not have added ingredients (like Vega/Sunwarrior) I could not taste the powder if that makes sense. But I definitely masked in oats and with fruit.

  21. I’ll have to try the hemp protein next time I buy some. I’m so glad you’re staying positive, love. Sure there are a few things you can’t eat but there are plenty of things you CAN :-) And you have access to many options.. Just thinking of all this experimenting as expanding your palate ;-)

  22. I hope that the new food experimentation has been helping! I have hemp protein powder at home, but I find it definitely needs sweetener/stuff added to it…and the colour is kind of hideous :-p And lentils are always a good protein choice. I still want to recreate that tempeh I had at Grasslands!

  23. Yummy! I have tried Vega and I really like that fact that when its mixed in with foods it kind of adopts the flavour of the particular food your eating it with. Do you find your getting still enough calories in your diet throughout the day because of your restrictions? do you think its making it harder to get what you need in?

    1. Yes definitely getting enough calories.. just in different ways/with different foods. I think it is making it more challenging in the sense that I need to get more creative. I cant just grab yogurt or almonds or eggs when I want something quick so I am relying on my food prep and planning. But I have been having some vegan granola bars since my homemade ones have ingredients that I can’t have right now.

  24. I’m so happy you wrote this post because I’ve been experimenting with adding protein powder to my smoothies. I prefer to get all my protein from real foods, but I’ve been drinking more smoothies lately and I’ve realized it’s almost impossible to make a smoothie filling enough without protein powder!

    I tried Vega nutritional all in one shake in French vanilla and I found it wayyy too sweet and overpowering in my smoothie. Have you tried that one before? How does it compare to the energizing smoothie blend?

    1. I think plant based protein powder is the closest to real food. I have only used the vega energizing smoothie blend but it’s funny that you found it too sweet… in comparing the ingredients of the two lines it definitely seems that the Vega One would be sweeter.

  25. Glad to see you make a positive out of a situation out of your control- you seem to be varying it up really well!

    I just recently received hemp protein powder so I’ll be giving it a go- glad to hear a positive review. I’ve tried vega, sunwarrior and growing naturals- vega was abit green but I love growing naturals- and it is really well priced! I was surprised at how well they mixed into things!

    1. I am definitely going to look into Growing Naturals. Very curious to hear what you think about the hemp powder. Can we please collaborate in order to make a hemp pancake recipe? So far I have failed.

  26. Oooh thanks for the info! I’ve been thinking about protein powders lately because I’m doing a lot of strength training, but whey always makes my stomach hurt and makes me bloated.

  27. I like Sunwarrior and I also like Pea Protein :) Pea Protein isn’t really that great in smoothies but it is amazing in oats topped with peanut butter and a little apple on the side!! :)

  28. Thanks for this great post! As a vegetarian I’m always looking for new protein powders that are animal product free. I’ve had the vega chai mix and I really like it! (it does taste like protein powder though) I like to add protein powder to banana soft serve. Keep up the awesome attitude

  29. I’m so glad you’re finding good options! I think I need to take a cue from you and add a little more variety to my diet. I have enough intolerances as it is, the last thing I need is another one!

  30. Lentils are high in fiber too! Any food that is high in protein AND fiber is a winner in my book. I’ve been eating them a lot more than normal lately, I never knew how easy they were to make until recently. Your post really makes me realize I need to branch out in the protein powder department. I tend to buy the whey protein since it’s readily available and tastes good. I tried a vegetarian protein powder once and it was terrible! I literally threw $17 down the drain because I never used it again. I need to overcome my fear and try some of the ones you have on here because they sound a lot better!

  31. I bought the hemp protein powder recently and tried it a few times…but had a little bit of a tough time with it. I kept tasting it in the finished dish, even though I wasn’t using more than the recommended serving. Maybe I didn’t have enough other stuff in it to balance it out? I really want to like it, but I’ve kind of hit a wall with it and haven’t tried adding it to things in a while.

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