A Useful Recipe: Greek Yogurt with Whey Protein Powder

For those trying to get more protein into their diet, whey powder (or any protein powder) can be a great way to do it. The downside to whey powder, though is how to actually eat the stuff—it’s not exactly appetizing to eat the dry powder with a spoon. The common solution is to dissolve it into a liquid. Water is probably the most common, which is why whey powders often have a lot of sugar and flavoring in them. I strongly prefer to get plain whey powder which has only the protein and no added sugars or artificial flavors.

I have made protein shakes using some milk, a little heavy cream, whey powder, and vanilla. They work, and if served very cold can be a little like a milkshake, as long as you generally eat so little sugar that your taste buds have reset their idea of sweet so that plain milk tastes sweet to you. The problem, though, is that it’s very easy to make a lot of air bubbles in the shake during the mixing, which produces an unpleasant texture. You can get around this by mixing with a stick blender in a tall container so that the surface can’t get down to the blades, but this is a lot of work and leaves you with a stick blender to clean when you’re done with it.

Enter Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt is an unsweetened yogurt which is strained after fermentation so it’s higher in protein than normal yogurt and has very little in the way of even natural milk sugars. (Normal grocery-store yogurt has so much sugar added that it’s very nearly got the same amount of sugar per unit volume as ice cream.) You can mix whey powder into Greek yogurt at a ratio of about 1 scoop of whey powder to 1 cup of Greek yogurt. You can mix it with a spoon. As my wife described it when she was telling me about the recipe, “at first it looks like there’s no way this is going to work, then it does”. After about 30-60 seconds of mixing, the whey powder dissolves into the yogurt and you get a very thick, creamy result. I like to add about a teaspoon and a half of vanilla per cup of yogurt because the flavor complements very well.

One tip I’ve found is that it tastes better when very cold, so I put the bowl with the whey powder in it into the freezer for a few minutes before adding the yogurt, so I’m adding all cold ingredients. If you want to do something kind of like making homemade frozen yogurt, put the mixed yogurt/whey back into the freezer. Take out and stir every 60 seconds or so. Keep this up until it’s the consistency you want. It will freeze against the sides of the bowl, so make sure to scrape them clean and mix the result into the middle. This would be very labor-intensive to make true fro-yo, but even getting a quarter of the way there can be pleasant.

NOTE: this also works best if you’ve avoided sugar enough that your taste buds have reset to the point where you can eat unsweetened Greek yogurt. (The whey powder makes the acidity a little more mild, but not much more mild.) If that’s not true, then you’re probably not as concerned with avoiding sugar anyway, and so you can add as much sweetener as needed to make this taste the way you want it. When it comes to flavors, sweet tends to cover over bitterness and sourness (that is, alkali and acidity), hence milk chocolate and lemonade.

Anyway, this has a lot of protein and is easier with less cleanup than protein shakes, so I mention it in case it helps anyone else, too.

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