In this day and age, it’s stunning that there are still any lingering concerns about where vegans get their protein from. That said, not all sources are created equal, and I’m still a big fan of protein shakes for quick nutrition infusions on the go. The field is littered with failed attempts at appealing only to health nuts, and not necessarily their taste buds, so it’s with great trepidation that I would tempt fate and deviate from my tried-and-true rotation of powdered options.
Thank goodness I gave Pro(Zero) by HPN Supplements a try. Blending pea and rice protein with lou han guo and stevia for strength and sweetness, the label itself was unarguably impressive. Immediately dispelling my biggest textural fears, each shake mixed up beautifully in just a standard sports bottle. Silky smooth, not a lump nor clump in sight, it was ready to go with only water and a bit of elbow grease. Quite substantial without any sort of extras necessary, I found that one scoop easily kept me satisfied for hours, even through the most drawn out, late night classes.
Granted, it’s not a miracle mix. It continues to thicken as it sits, so it shouldn’t be blended in advance. Plus, it’s best served icy-cold; at room temperature, there are some vaguely fruity notes, a strained sweetness, and very slightly bitter aftertaste that come to the fore. The takeaway here is that as long as your shakes don’t sit around, you’ll still be sitting pretty!
Excited by this new protein-packed ingredient, I wanted to see what else it could do to supercharge some other snacks. With an eye to the holidays, it seemed like the perfect thing to turn into a festive, yet healthy indulgence.
Does anything say “indulgence” better than a vanilla bean-flecked bark, covered with toasted pistachios and sweetened dried cranberries?
Well, what about a thick slab of chocolate, dotted with crunchy crushed cacao nibs and a smattering of flaky sea salt?
Just because it’s classified as candy doesn’t mean it has to be unhealthy. I’d like to think that protein bark is the new protein bar, with an extra dose of holiday whimsy mixed in. Whether it’s a gift you give to friends and family or simply to yourself, it’s guaranteed to be in good taste!
Not all protein powders react the same when used in various recipes, so I would highly recommend stocking up on Pro(Zero) specifically this time around. Just for you, my sweet readers, order directly from HPN Supplements and get 10% off by using the coupon code “bittersweet”.
Protein Holiday Bark
Peppermint Cacao Bark:
6 Ounces (1 Cup) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/4 Cup Pro(Zero) Natural Whipped Vanilla Protein Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Peppermint Extract
1/4 Cup Cacao Nibs
Coarse or Flaky Sea Salt
1/2 Cup Refined Coconut Oil
1/2 Cup Pro(Zero) Natural Whipped Vanilla Protein Powder
3 Tablespoons Confectioners’ Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Vanilla Bean Paste or Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Toasted, Unsalted Pistachios
1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries
For the Peppermint Cacao Bark, place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe dish and heat at 30 second intervals, stirring thoroughly between each cycle, until completely melted. Add in the protein powder and peppermint extract, mixing thoroughly. Once the powder is completely incorporated, spread the mixture out on a piece of parchment paper or a silpat. Smooth it out as thinly as possible with a wide spatula; exact dimensions aren’t important.
Sprinkle the cacao nibs and a pinch of sea salt over the top, gently pressing the goodies into the surface so that they adhere. Place in the fridge for at least 20 minutes for the bark to solidify before breaking into pieces and enjoying.
For the Cranberry-Pistachio Bark, place the coconut oil in a microwave-safe dish and heat until liquefied. Add in the protein powder, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla paste or powder, and salt, stirring until the mixture is homogeneous. Allow it to sit in a cool place for about 15 minutes, stirring periodically, until it begins to thicken and solidify again. If you house is very warm, place it in the fridge for only 5 – 10 minutes, stirring every minute or so for the same effect.
Spread the mixture out on a piece of parchment paper or a silpat as thinly as possible with a wide spatula; exact dimensions aren’t important. Once smooth, sprinkle the pistachios and cranberries evenly over the top, gently pressing the goodies into the surface so that they adhere. Place in the fridge for at least 20 minutes for the bark to solidify before breaking into pieces and enjoying.
Store either rendition in an airtight container in the fridge or a cool place for up to a week.
This post was is sponsored by HPN Supplements, but all content and opinions are entirely my own.
12 thoughts on “In the Zone”
These sound amazingly delicious, Hannah!
What a great way to use protein powder! Your bark looks so delicious and festive!!
Such a great use of protein powders, I’m obsessed with plant based protein powders and looking forward to trying this and these wonderful bark recipes. Thanks!
I can’t see any of your images Hannah?
Uh oh, not sure what’s going on… Try refreshing the page? They’re working on my end…
Nope. All of the image links are broken on my side :(
I was just thinking about trying protein powder in chocolate – love this! Thanks for bringing this protein powder to my attention – I hadn’t seen it. And that pea protein does thicken like nobody’s business!
Chocolate is coming out in 2 days on HPNSupplements.com!
Protein powder or no protein powder, that bark looks amazing. A little sea salt makes anything sweet sing.
Is the D3 in this powder vegan? I hate that vitamins can be a hidden gotcha in something otherwise perfectly animal free. If it’s vegan D3 I will totally try this, as I also am hesitant to stray from my “known” powders (your recommendation means a lot!)
Hi Rachey – Thanks for your question! We have considered this in our formulation, and yes our D3 IS Vegan!
Our D3 is made from lichen, a plant, a natural source of Vegan D3.
Not really into using protein powder but the bark looks incredible – best use of the supplement I’ve ever seen. :-)