Starting the day with a soy protein shake can give you the nutrition and energy that you need to make it through the morning. Many people buy a container of soy protein powder, mix a scoop with water and after one or two sips decide that it tastes so bad that they can't get it down. They then browse the Internet or store shelves in search of a better-tasting soy protein powder. The search may be fruitless because the best soy protein powders are designed to deliver the maximum amount of protein and are mass produced to accommodate many palates. Even as different brands of soy protein powders have varying amounts of flavorings and sweeteners, the key to a great-tasting drink is finding the right combination of milk, fruit and spices that will make you crave the shake every day.
Soy protein isolate is a dry powder food ingredient made from defatted soybean flakes washed in either alcohol or water to remove sugars and dietary fiber, according to the Soyfoods Association of North America. Even as that may not sound very appetizing, isolation from the other components of the soybean make soy protein powder as much as 95 percent protein, almost carbohydrate and fat free and a convenient way to meet your protein needs for the day.
Taste vs. Protein Content
Some brands of soy protein powder are fortified with minerals and vitamins along with sweeteners and flavorings. Rather than evaluating the flavor additives in soy protein shake mixes, you should look for a brand that provides a significant amount of protein per serving, says David Heber, author of the "The L.A. Shape Diet." Most adults require from 46 to 56 grams of protein daily, according the Mayo Clinic. This guideline should help you determine whether to choose flavored, unflavored, sweetened or unsweetened soy protein powder.
Juice or Milk?
One of the main decisions you have to make in creating a great tasting soy protein shake is the liquid ingredient that you choose to mix with the soy protein powder. Some people choose juice and others choose milk. The Soyfoods Association recommends mixing vanilla soy protein isolate powder with unsweetened soymilk. Depending on your tastebuds and your diet, you can try your shake with whole, skim or non-fat milk. You might also consider almond or rice milk.
Fruit and Spices
In addition to the milk, the fruit that you choose makes a big impact on the palatability of your drink. Bananas and antioxidant fruit such as strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are tried and tested fruits incorporated in some of the best-tasting commercial protein shakes. In addition to fruits, you can add flavorings like vanilla, orange or lemon extract, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice to your drink to enhance the flavor.
Additional Uses and Storage
The most economical form of soy protein is the plain powder with no other ingredients added, says the Soyfoods Association. Another reason for avoiding a soy protein powder that is pre-loaded with sweeteners and flavorings is that you can add a neutral flavored protein powder to soups, sauces, breads and baked goods to boost the protein content of those foods. If it is kept sealed and dry, soy protein powder will last several months. Most brands feature use-by dates on the packaging.
- Soyfoods Association of North America: Soy Protein Isolate
- MayoClinic.com: Protein Shakes: Good For Weight Loss?
- "The L.A. Shape Diet"; David Heber, Susan Bowerman; 2004