A Protein Pick-Me-Up

I was recently gifted with the Vega One Starter Kit and as one who has had not-so-delightful experiences with vegan protein powders in the past, I was curious to try Vega’s line and was hopeful from others’ experience with their products.

Vega One

About Vega

Vega grew from the vision of former professional Ironman triathlete and two-time Canadian 50km Ultra Marathon Champion Brendan Brazier who was disappointed in his search for a convenient, healthy, plant-based, whole food derived, all-in-one protein and nutritional supplement option, and decided to make his own.

 
“I formulated Vega using the highest quality, least processed, plant-based superfoods available. Armed with Vega, you will no longer need to compromise between whole food goodness and fast food convenience. To me, Vega is a way of life. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.”

 

As product formulator, Brendan had strict criteria for Vega:

  1.  Made with all natural, plant-based ingredients (absolutely no animal products)
  2. Made primarily with whole foods in their freshest, least processed form possible
  3. Provide a balance of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats, plus a significant contribution to your daily intake of vitamins and minerals when mixed in plain water
  4. Feature proteins from a diverse variety of vegetarian sources that combine to deliver a complete essential amino acid profile
  5. Provide carbohydrates that are naturally occurring, complex and low-glycemic, with no added sugars or sugar-derivatives
  6. Deliver essential fatty acids of the highest quality, the majority being Omega-3s, with no trans fats
  7. Free of dairy, gluten and soy
  8. Include no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners
  9. Taste good with pleasant texture and flavour when mixed with plain water
  10. Easy to prepare for on-the-go convenience

 

In addition to these product requirements, here are a sampling of the principles that guide the development of Vega products (many of which I’m sure will resonate with you):

  • Plant-based whole foods are the true future of optimal health
  • Alkaline-forming, plant-based whole foods help build a platform for optimal health
  • What you eat should provide energy, not drain it
  • What you eat should energize through nourishment, not stimulation

 

My Take on Protein Powder

Like I mentioned earlier, I am not a big user of protein powders. A main reason is that however impressive the claims or special ingredients, the flavor is more-often-than-not “icky”; there is an excessive amount of sugar, carbohydrates, and sodium; and did I mention that my taste buds revolt?

What’s more, I don’t think that many of the people currently using protein powders need them. In the U.S. and in Western cultures in general, we get more than enough protein and can meet our needs through whole foods and without supplements. By “we”, I mean NON-professional athletes. Most of us do some form of exercise that doesn’t exceed an hour or 90 minutes a day. Most of us would benefit from whole sources of protein that we prepare ourselves and consume in planned meals and snacks.

I also don’t think that using protein powders occasionally or for a specific purpose is a “bad” thing. I know that I personally need a good amount of protein with my meals, especially breakfast and lunch, to feel full and sated. Others (like my husband) can eat a high-carb, high-fiber meal with a relatively low amount of protein and reach a level of satiety that I wouldn’t. Many like to have a quick, easy, all-in-one breakfast smoothie, and for vegans, it can be hard to get a significant amount of protein without adding lots of fat and kcals from nut butters or without using a lot of soy products (milk, yogurt, silken tofu) that some can’t tolerate and some want to avoid for other reasons.

I see the potential benefit of using protein powders to up the satiety factor through the added protein and fiber of not only smoothies and shakes but also homemade bars, oatmeal, baked goods, and much more. There are many recipes out there using protein powders in this way and some are available on Vega’s website.

Talk with your Registered Dietitian about whether protein powder is a recommended supplement for you and how to best implement it into your diet and lifestyle.

 

So…How Does It taste?

After all this talk, I’m sure you’re wondering if Vega got approval (or at least not rejection) from my taste buds.

I used the French Vanilla flavor to make a Kale Smoothie (with a special twist), a Pumpkin Pie Smoothie (welcome Fall!) and Cake Batter Balls (yes, that’s what I said).

 

Cotton Candy Kale Smoothie

The Grapery has through their own innovative farming techniques (that don’t include additives, infusions, or GMO), come up with Cotton Candy Grapes, and I’m a fan. I blended them with kale, Vega’s French Vanilla Nutritional Shake, unsweetened almond milk, and ice in my Vitamix for a nummy breakfast.

Ingredients

1/2 head black dino kale

1 cup cotton candy grapes (can sub other fruit, preferably frozen)

1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk

6 ice cubes

Directions

Put everything in your blender and give it a nice whirl.

Cotton Candy Kale Smoothie

Pumpkin Pie Protein Psmoothie

Combining pumpkin puree (I used canned organic pumpkin) with my homemade vegan unsweetened yogurt (commercial ok or sub non-dairy milk), Vega One, and pumpkin pie spice, this protein-packed psmoothie says “Hello Beautiful Fall Day!” better than anything I know.

Ingredients

1 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy yogurt

1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk

1 frozen banana

French Vanilla Vega One protein powder (I used 2 Tbsp but you can use the whole packet if you’d like)

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp vanilla extract

~6 ice cubes

Directions

Whiz everything together in the Vitamix!

Pumpkin Pie Psmoothie

Cake Batter Balls

For the Cake Batter Balls, I used a recipe from Chef Amber Shea that is raw, vegan, and free of gluten, grains, soy, nuts, seeds, and sugar–whew! I guess that means most everyone can eat them, right? To try her recipe and see more of her creations, check out her website.

As you can see, the French Vanilla has a green tinge to it from the “Green Blend”, so you can try the chocolate flavor or ignore the funny color and just enjoy!

Cake Batter Balls

And The Taste Buds Say…?

As much as I wanted to like the cake batter balls, it was a little much for me. I don’t know if it’s the “Greens Blend” or just the fact that it was half a cup of protein powder mixed with only water and some coconut oil OR that it was green :P but I did not personally enjoy this use of Vega One.

Both the smoothies were winners! It could be that I’m only using a couple Tablespoons or that it’s mixed up with a lot of other flavors, but this is definitely a good way to incorporate Vega One protein powders into your diet if your taste buds are also a tad particular.

 

How do you like to use protein powders? Have you tried Vega One?

 

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Disclosure: Financial compensation was not received for this post. A sample product was gifted from Vega. Opinions expressed here are my own.

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