Healthy pumpkin pancakes – Low-carb and full of protein (and fluffy!)

This week I had a request from the husband to make a healthy pancake with protein, that was low-carb and grain-free. I’ve had some success with grain-free, healthy pancakes, but I’ve also had a few failures. This time I lucked out and ended up with a great recipe I’ve already made a few times. I even made a double-batch and stuck them in freezer for quick breakfasts or snacks.

Find the recipe after the jump!

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Protein powder review and smoothie recipe

I enjoy drinking a smoothie as a meal replacement. I think they are yummy and easy and it helps me not to make bad food choices when I don’t the motivation to eat leftovers. Is a shake the healthiest option for a meal? Maybe not, but I’m not sure. It works for me and I like it. I’m not a health professional and everybody is different, but drinking a smoothie for breakfast or lunch helps me out.

My husband Marc is getting into power-lifting and gaining muscle-mass, so he is very interested in using protein powders. I like getting enough protein in my diet and protein powder is an easy way to do it. Marc came across True Nutrition’s website (through a variety of blog sources he follows) and we wanted to give it a try. A lot of protein powders (probably most of them) have undesirable ingredients like bad oils and preservatives and the like. It can be hard to find a protein that is “clean,” but True Nutrition seems to be pretty clean.

I went to pick the protein I wanted, and there are a million different choices. You can choose what type of protein (they have all sorts of different kinds) and you can mix them if you would like. You can also customize your mix with carbs, fats, or supplements. Then you can choose a flavor and sweetener from a very long list of options.

I’m breast-feeding and my little guy has issues with dairy, so I wanted to try a vegetarian protein source. I chose a pea protein, but because I really like whey, I made it 20% grass-fed whey protein as well. Marc chose the 100% grass-fed whey protein in double-chocolate mint, mine was orange creamsiscle. There was 54 flavors to choose from! The unsweetened chocolate or vanilla, or the plain, are the cleanest flavors, but we decided to go with the artificial flavorings. We aren’t perfect.

Trying out 2 of many flavor and mix combinations

Trying out 2 of many flavor and mix combinations

The Double Chocolate Mint? AMAZING. It is really tasty. The mintiness of it actually reminds me of the taste of too much Torani chocolate syrup. I know that sounds weird and not really all that great, but it does taste good. I find that a lot of chocolate protein powders taste like minty hotdogs (which I do not like)… but that could just be me. The point is, this protein does not taste like hot dogs and I like the flavor.

I can actually mix this protein in my banana and almond butter smoothie and it doesn’t give off a minty taste, it’s more of the chocolate syrup taste.

The other protein was the Orange Creamciscle flavor, 80% pea protein, 20% whey.

It was disappointing. You can actually taste the peas, and the orange doesn’t come through as much as you would hope. If I ordered it again, I would get the flavor “heavy” (you can specify the concentration of the flavor; light, normal, heavy). When I made my smoothie I ended up adding orange oil to it, which made it much better. I think adding the juice of an orange would make it pretty tasty as well, but by itself, I wasn’t a fan.

What is my favorite way to use protein powder? A smoothie! Or shake, whatever you would like to call it.

Here is my favorite recipe:

almond butter banana chocolate shake

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups milk or milk substitute – I use 1 cup coconut milk and 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 tbsp almond or other nut butter
  • 1/2 banana (better if frozen in chunks)
  • 1/2 or 1 scoop chocolate or vanilla protein powder
  • 1 or 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • A few ice cubes
  • Optional additions – greens, avocado, coconut oil

I use a hand blender now, so I no longer freeze most of the milk. Because only my banana is frozen, it is not a very thick consistency. If you want a thick, frozen-shake consistency, freeze half of the milk in ice cube trays and use that.

I also blend all the ingredients, except the ice, until completely blended. I then add the ice and blend it last.

Enjoy!

Note: I am using this as a meal-replacement. This is not a 100-calorie shake. Nor am I a dietician. Make sure you find out what works for you, even if it includes talking with a professional.

*I am in no way, being compensated for this review. I bought the protein myself and I am sharing my experience.

This week’s meal plan

Last week we fell off the wagon a little bit. Starting with my husband’s birthday, I consumed far too many grains and it made itself known. I broke out with these really annoying bumps on the backs of my arms and legs. Plus I felt icky all week.

Back to business!

I have a ton of squash and peppers in my fridge right now from my CSA box. I think I am starting to grow tired of the summer squash! I’ve been craving beets and sweet potatoes lately and couldn’t pass them up – especially since they were local and on sale!

All the fish we bought was wild caught and all the meat and chicken we purchased was organic and 100% grass fed. All of our produce was from local, organic farmers as well.

Also on my list to make is hummus to dip peppers, carrots, and cucumbers. I have all the ingredients, just need to blend them together. Plus I still need to make that delicious-looking tomato pesto!

This week’s dinner menu:

Monday:
Pan grilled Mahi Mahi
Served with mashed sweet potato and green beans

Tuesday:
Lemon-pepper chicken in the crockpot
served with summer squash and a beet salad

Wednesday:
Stir-fry beef with onions, peppers, garlic, and squash
served with quinoa

Thursday:
Cauliflower Crust vegetable pizza (experimental)
served with a beet salad

Friday:
Hamburger patties with bacon and avocado
served with baked sweet potato fries

Saturday:

BBQ pork chops
served with fruit salad and spinach salad