This is pretty spontaneous, but I feel like writing a post about protein, so I’m going to do it. I know, I know, as if there aren’t enough posts about protein, but mine will hopefully be a bit different. I’m not going totally in-depth, I’m not focusing on what protein is and I’m not including results from studies. I am writing what I feel, and I am going to follow wherever my writing takes me. If it bores you along the way (which I’m hoping it doesn’t) please let me know. 🙂 Here we go.
As a vegetarian and a recent dairy-avoider, I am often asked “where do you get your protein?” I am generally tolerant of repeatedly asked questions–as a homeschooler and an actress I have to be–but honestly, this question is one of the most tiring to answer.
It’s typically asked out of curiosity, which I don’t mind, but on occasion I receive inquiries from someone whose intentions are nothing but negative. It’s odd to me how people think that because I’ve chosen to eliminate a certain food group from my diet, I’m automatically subject to any sort of incriminating question they’d like to ask. Yes, meat is recommended on the Food Pyramid, but it also happens to be the second smallest column next to oils. In addition, vegetables are the second largest column after grains (which I completely disagree with, but I digress) and we’re all fully aware of the 5-a-day recommendation. Vegetables play a much more critical role in one’s diet than meat, but would you like me to request details on every leafy green that passes your lips? Probably not.
As an answer to that frequently-asked question, I get my protein in a multitude of ways. I focus on having a portion at every meal and by the end of the day, I’ve typically consumed anywhere between 50-60 grams. That’s the correct amount for my size, and I get it all in a completely natural, vegan way.
My most-favorite and most-consumed forms of protein would have to be beans and legumes. I love black beans, pinto beans, white beans, and kidney beans and don’t even get me started on chickpeas. All of the above are fabulous in salads, sandwiches, spreads, veggie burgers or straight up by the handful.
Although I prefer to watch my soy intake, I also enjoy tofu, tempeh, soymilk, soy yogurt and something a friend of mine recently showed me: dry-roasted edamame. This is honestly one of the most convenient, portable sources of protein I have found. It’s wonderfully simple, and paired with a carb/fat food bar, it’s the perfect snack.
Other forms, although not as dense in protein, include nuts, nut butters, seeds, vegetables and nutritional yeast. (Nutritional yeast DOES have 9 grams in three tablespoons, but who honestly uses that much?) Whole grains and brown rice can also boast quite a few grams, but due to their high carb count I don’t consider them an independent source.
Yet another low-carb, high-protein favorite of mine is brown rice protein powder. A few weeks ago on my Formspring, I received the following question:
“You seem to have a lot of recipes with protein powder in them – do you consider protein powders “clean”? Even though they do claim to be made from natural sources, aren’t they still very synthetic?”
Here was my answer:
“I usually limit myself to one scoop a day. I prefer to get my protein sources from whole foods, but occasionally it’s easier to supplement with a rice protein powder. It must have a short ingredients list though, (5 or less) and it has to be naturally sweetened, preferably with stevia. Even though it technically is man-made, it’s all-natural, it’s easy and it’s something I enjoy. 🙂”
Even though it was an excellent question (thanks, Wei Wei!), I still stand by my answer. The truth is, whether or not protein powder is 100% “clean” is dependent upon your interpretation of the word. For some it may not fit the bill because there is no protein powder tree, but for me a short, natural, minimally processed ingredients list is enough.
Of course, not every protein powder lives up to the standards I mentioned. Most are loaded with fillers, artificial flavorings, artificial colors and man-made sweeteners. The quest for an all-natural, tasty protein powder can be a hard one, but thankfully a lot of the hard work has all ready been done for you. A while back, April wrote up a wonderful post featuring protein powder and the different kinds she’s tested. To that list I’d like to add the Natural Factors protein (which I drank before I stopped eating dairy), and I’d also like to recommend you Google “all-natural protein powders.” The amount of results you’ll find will astonish you.
Those are some great options for whey protein, but what about brown rice protein? I, myself, have only tried three different brands, but my opinions are worth noting. I recently did a taste comparison between Nutribiotic and Sun Warrior, and I wanted to share the results with you.
The competitors, side-by-side.
- Enzymatically processed rice protein from whole grain, sprouted brown rice
- Rice syrup solids
- Natural chocolate and vanilla flavors
- Bio-Fermented Raw Sprouted Whole Grain Brown Rice Protein
- Xanthan gum
Round 1: Ingredients & Nutrition Facts
At first glance, it looks as if Nutribiotic has won the Ingredients round. It only has three ingredients compared to Sun Warrior’s five, however…
Sun Warrior Positives: I love that it’s sweetened with stevia, and I LOVE that it’s 100% raw!! That is SO cool; I have never heard of another raw protein powder.
Sun Warrior Negatives: I’m not too sure that I like the pectin and xanthan gum.. I kind of prefer to add my own thickeners. Xanthan I don’t mind so much, but the pectin I’m a little leery of.
Nutribiotic Positives: Short ingredients list! Three ingredients really can’t be beat.
Nutribiotic Negatives: I have no idea what “natural chocolate and vanilla flavors” means, so I’ve contacted the company. I’ll let you know what they say once I’ve heard back. I also am not overly fond of the “rice syrup solids.” I typically stay away from anything with the word “syrup” in it, and I’d prefer this be sweetened with stevia.
The Nutrition Facts are pretty comparable. For a 32g scoop of Nutribioitic, there are 120 calories, 0g fat, 20mg sodium, about 3g net carbs, 2g sugar and 24g protein.
For a 35g scoop of Sun Warrior, there are 133 calories, 1g fat, 80mg sodium, 5g net carbs, 1g sugar and 25g protein.
Like I said, pretty comparable considering the Sun Warrior scoop is a few grams larger. The only real difference is in the sodium count, which isn’t too bad.
Overall, Round 1 is a tie. Nutribiotic’s ingredients list is shorter (for now) and the stats are a bit better, but Sun Warrior is completely raw, unprocessed and is sweetened with stevia. We’ll revisit Round 1 after I’ve heard back from the company.
Round 2: Consistency
I poured 1/2 a serving of each into a small bowl, then added 1.5 tbsp unsweetened almond milk to each bowl.
Stir, stir, stir…
In this picture, you can all ready see Sun Warrior’s xanthan gum working. It was immediately much thicker than Nutribiotic and had much denser texture.
As you can see, Sun Warrior produced a more condensed, “stuck together” cookie dough-like texture. You could cut into the mix and it would keep its shape. Nutribiotic had a nice consistency as well, but it definitely required some bowl-scraping and reminded me (texture-wise) of frosting. Overall, Sun Warrior wins Round 2.
Round 3: Taste
This should be pretty easy and straight-to-the point. Basically, Sun Warrior tastes better. It’s sweetened with stevia, it’s not nearly as chalky as Nutribiotic and it has a much more noticeable chocolately, fudgey taste. I would’ve never guess that Nutribiotic was sweetened, and I always have to add a tiny bit of NuNaturals Stevia to it to make it palatable. It’s also very chalky in comparison to Sun Warrior, and the chocolate taste is more muted. Sun Warrior wins Round 3. Easy.
Round 4: Cost
The price for Nutribiotic on their website is $19.95 for 1 lb 6.9 oz.
The price for Sun Warrior on their website is $48.95 for 2.2 lbs.
After doing a little mathematical breakdown, Nutribiotic comes to about $1.00/32g serving and Sun Warrior is $1.51/32g serving. Um, yeah. Sun Warrior is quite a bit more expensive. 50¢ may not seem like much in one serving, but it quickly adds up. If you couldn’t all ready tell, Nutribiotic wins Round 4.
Overall, with better taste, better consistency, stevia and raw ingredients, Sun Warrior wins! It’s not perfect and it does have some negatives (the pectin and the insanely expensive price) but taking everything else into account, this one is the winner.
What do you think about Sun Warrior? Have you ever tried it? What were your thoughts? Would you buy it?
For me personally, the price is a huge factor. I can’t justify spending that much on a protein powder regardless of how wonderful it is, so I will continue to buy Nutribiotic. It may not be as tasty or as smooth as Sun Warrior, but with a little bit of NuNaturals Stevia it works for me.
In closing, I want to share two pictures with you, both of which have something to do with Katie!
Since I’ve been talking quite a bit about Nutribiotic, I thought I’d show you Katie’s protein-packed chocolate cake made with it!
This one ended up cooking kinda weird and I’m not sure why. The top cooked (below), but the bottom was still pretty.. well.. raw. (2nd picture)
No matter! While attempting to further bake the bottom half, I ate the top half topped with Katie’s vegan whipped cream. It was creamy and faaaabulous.
But what could it be? You’ll just have to wait and find out. 🙂
The second thing that has to do with Katie is my fruit-hugging picture! Yes, I know this post is about protein, but it’s Hug-a-Fruit month over at Katie’s blog and I want to participate. I keep forgetting to post my picture, so I figure I should post it now while I’m thinking about it. 🙂
Huggin’ my cantaloupe.
Gettin’ sillay with my cantaloupe. (Don’t worry about using this second picture, Katie. I was just being a goof. :P)
All right, folks! That’s all for tonight. In closing, I have some QOTDs for ya.
Question of the Day 1: How do YOU get your protein? (Muhaha, it’s my turn now!) What are your favorite sources? Do you make it a point to get protein in, or is it one of those “if it happens, it happens” type things?
Question of the Day 2: For any fellow vegetarians/vegans out there, how often do you get the dreaded question? How do you answer it and what are your feelings about it?
Question of the Day 3: What protein powders have you tried? Which are your favorites, and do you have any sort of criteria for what you will and won’t buy? I’m curious. 🙂 If I can get some good recommendations from you guys, I’ll make a list and add it to my next post. I’m sure everyone would like to know.
Thanks for reading!