Black Bean Surprise Bites

Happy Tuesday friends!

The old saying goes better late, than never, right?! I hope in this situation that is the case. 🙂

I promised both in person (before the pandemic) and on my Instagram months ago that I would share the final recipe my lab partner Gian & I developed in our Experimental Foods class last semester. So, I’m finally getting to that! 😛 If that’s all you are here for maybe just scroll to the recipe. 😆 But before you do enjoy this lovely hairnet photo.🤣

One of the 1st versions of Black Bean Surprise bites

I know that my semester is long over and I promise I did not forget about sharing the recipe! I just got sidetracked by many other things in my life from my development of an unexpected stress fracture in my foot to the beginning of my dietetic internship. Not to mention that going through life during a pandemic, extreme political division, and civil unrest has been tough, sad, and trying. 😦 But today is not the day to discuss all of those things, although I certainly can in a future post if there is interest.

I do plan to write about my stress fracture from a nutritional and running standpoint here, though, but also let me know in the comments or via e-mail if you want any posts of being a dietetic intern, being a dietetic intern during a pandemic, eating/cooking at home (because of the pandemic), work from home tips, etc.👇🏻 I’d really like to write posts here more than every month or two. So ideas are super helpful!

Anyway, let’s get to what you all really came here for, the recipe! It was interesting because we started the recipe development in class, but the class was moved to online after midterms due to COVID, so we were not able to do as many trials of the recipe as we would have liked. We are still pretty pleased with the final version and hope you are too!

Mixing everything in one of the early versions of the recipe.

The snack bites have hidden vegetables and legumes (sweet potatoes, kale, and black beans), but we don’t think you can even taste them. So they are perfect for picky eaters (just don’t tell them 🤐 )! And each 2 bite serving has ~7 grams of protein and ~6.5 grams of fiber! Who knew a vegan snack that tastes like an almond joy could be so healthy?! Black beans really are amazing! 😉 These are a great snack to add to your weekly meal prep rotation and the perfect lunchbox or midday treat! 🙂

Yield: 16 bites (8 servings)

Ingredients

1/2 can black beans

1/2 cup vegan chocolate protein powder (we used Garden of Life Organic Plant-Based Chocolate Sport Protein Powder)

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/3 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup turbinado sugar

1/4 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (we used Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Morsels)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup water

1 sweet potato

1 bunch of fresh kale

13 Medjool dates, pitted

3/4 cup salted, slivered almonds

1/3 cup coconut flakes

4 teaspoons cinnamon

How to make Black Bean Snack Bites:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit for at least 10 minutes.

2. Drain and rinse black beans in a large colander 3 times with tap water.Wash, peel, and cut sweet potatoes  into bite sized pieces.

3. Boil the sweet potatoes under medium heat and a high flame on the stove top until soft (about 15 minutes).

4. Wash fresh kale under cold water and chop into small pieces.

5. Steam for 5-10 mins, or until kale is soft, but retains bright green color. Then set aside.

6. Remove pits from dates and chop them into smaller pieces.

7. Combine black beans, protein powder, cocoa powder, coconut oil, vanilla, sweet potatoes, dates and kale in the food processor.

8. Process at high speed until completely smooth, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides if necessary. If the mixture is too dry add ~50 mL of water to the mixture.

9. Carefully remove the blade and stir in the chocolate chips and salted slivered almonds.

10. Spoon 1-2 tablespoons of mixture into paper cups and place into a 14 x 11 muffin pan. 

11. Sprinkle cinnamon and coconut flakes onto the surface of the each piece. 

12. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until set in the center.

13. Let cool for 15-20 minutes.

14. Remove cups from the pan. Serve immediately or store in the fridge.

15. Store leftover bites in the fridge in an airtight container, such as a Tupperware. They will keep for a few days in the refrigerator and even longer in the freezer. They taste best chilled!

Enjoy this quick, easy, and nutritious recipe! Let me know if you try it! And feel free to tag me on Instagram @fueling.veggie.athletes or e-mail me when you do!

Plant-Based Protein Powders and How to Choose One

Plant based protein powders IG post*Note: I am not a doctor or medical professional. I am studying nutrition and on the path to become a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). Please, contact a practicing RDN or another healthcare professional with any questions or concerns before adopting a new way of eating.

Good afternoon friends! 🙂 Every week I receive multiple questions in my Instagram inbox about eating plant-based or being a plant-based athlete, so I figured it was time to start addressing those questions here on the good ‘ol blog!  As a future Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and an aspiring sub-elite runner, I am drawing on both research AND my personal experiences to share this information with you, so as usual, contact a licensed healthcare professional with any questions or concerns! Once I am a licensed and practicing RDN I will be more than happy to help you, though! 🙂

So without further ado, let’s get to it! Today’s topic is plant-based protein powders.🌱 I want to start off by saying a protein powder should never be a replacement for a food in your diet, rather it should be an ENHANCEMENT or a SUPPLEMENT to your current diet. It is always best to get most of your daily calories and protein from whole, real foods (1). A protein shake is not meant to replace dinner or breakfast. Although, no judgment if you’ve done that before, as we have all been there 😛 But generally protein powder does not make a very complete or balanced meal unless it is added to a smoothie with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc. Of course there are certain times when a protein powder may be appropriate: during a major illness where you need extra protein to help you heal, during a heavy training phase as an athlete, or when you are struggling to meet your daily calorie and protein needs with food alone (2). Always talk to your healthcare provider before beginning a supplement, because yes, protein powder is considered a supplement!

 

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There are a variety of reasons why an athlete might chose a plant-based protein powder: dairy allergy, vegan diet, or taste preferences. I personally am vegan and whey never sat well with me even when I ate dairy, so that is why I chose to consume a plant-based protein powder. I did not start consuming protein powder until 2019 because I used to be against it to be honest. But after running my highest weekly volume ever this summer to train for my second ever marathon (the Chicago Marathon this October), I can attest to the recovery benefits of consuming a high-protein shake or smoothie after a long run or tough training session when my stomach is otherwise not ready to eat a full meal rich in carbohydrates and protein. All I have to do is dump some water or almond milk and protein powder into my Blender Bottle, shake well, and sip as I stretch and foam roll.

So what are some key differences between whey based and plant-based protein powders? Well for starters, whey protein is a complete protein, meaning it has all 9 of the essential amino acids that your body cannot produce on it’s own (3). All animal based proteins are complete, but only quinoa and soy products are complete plant-based proteins (3,4). So before you panic, remember that you do not need to eat complete proteins at every single meal and snack, but rather throughout the day. Or you could do some good ol’ fashioned food pairing, i.e. the classic combination of rice and beans together contain all 9 of the essential amino acids in the proper amounts! So how does this relate to plant-based protein powders? Well, unless you are consuming a soy protein powder, which is already complete,  most plant-based protein powders will achieve a complete amino acid profile through the pairing of multiple plant protein sources, i.e. pea protein, chia seeds, cranberry protein, pumpkin seeds (4). The use of multiple protein sources just adds to the nutritional benefits of the protein powder! Whey protein powder is relatively low in nutrients besides protein, but a plant-based protein powder will often have some iron and other minerals, such as phosphorous or zinc (4). Pea protein powder is among the most common plant-based protein powders, but I’ve seen many types over the years, from hemp seed to combination plant protein powders.

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As an athlete there are two additional considerations I use when choosing a protein powder. I check the ingredients to see if the plant-based protein powder contains sugar alcohols and if it is NSF Certified for Sport or Informed Choice (6,7). I check for sugar alcohols because for me and many others, they cause GI distress (5). I cannot even chew gum because of the sugar alcohols! I am fine with stevia though, but I honestly wish more protein powders just used a bit of regular sugar…but that’s a topic for another day 😛

I then check if the protein powder is NSF Certified for Sport or Informed Choice because supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so how do we know that our supplements actually contain what they say they contain (6,7)? The NSF International’s Certified for Sport program was created to test supplements and make sure they do not contain any banned or illegal substances, contaminants, and that they actually contain what they say they contain (6).  To receive the NSF mark the supplement has to be tested twice in a calendar year (6). I also love that NSF has an app with a barcode scanner, so I can check supplements easily when I am on the go or at a store.

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Informed Choice is similar in that third party tests supplements for banned substances, but it is not the gold standard or recognized by major athletics teams, such as the MLB, like NSF certified for Sport (7). NSF Certified for Sport is especially important for elite athletes who are subject to random testings before/during/after competitions, because how would it feel to get disqualified because of your protein powder? I may be exaggerating here, but it’s still good to know exactly what is in our supplements, so even as an aspiring sub-elite athlete, I will only consume supplements from brands I trust and ones that are preferably NSF Certified, but at least Informed Choice so I know that they have been tested by a third party.

All 3 of my recommended protein powders below are NSF Certified or Informed Choice!

My top 3 favorite protein powders (in order) are linked below with pros and cons. 

 

1. Garden of Life Sport Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder: Chocolate or Vanilla

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  • Pros:NSF Certified for Sport
    • Informed Choice
    • The chocolate is tasty in milk or water
    • Contains all the essential amino acids (complete protein)
    • 30 g protein per serving

 

  • Cons:Expensive, but at least it lasts a while
    • Vanilla only tastes good in smoothies in my opinion
    • Contains stevia, which I am not sensitive to, but some of you might be or you may not like the taste of
    • Can be hard to mix unless you use a shaker bottle or a blender

2. Tailwind Rebuild Recovery Chocolate or Vanilla

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  • Pros:Informed Choice
    • Tastes good even in just water (I prefer chocolate over vanilla in plain water)
    • Easy to transport if you get the single serving packs
    • Mixes very easily just by shaking
    • Contains electrolytes in addition to carbohydrates and protein, perfect for immediately after a run or athletic event
    • No artificial sweeteners

 

  • Cons:Not NSF Certified
    • Most expensive option
    • Vanilla is not very tasty in my opinion but some may like it
    • Not as high in protein as other options (only 10 g)
    • High in sugar compared to other protein powders (39 g)

 

3. Vega Sport Premium Protein in Chocolate, Vanilla, Berry, or Mocha

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  • Pros:Informed Choice
    • Can buy as a tub or individual serving packets
    • Tastes decent even mixed with just water, but is best in smoothies
    • 30% DV of iron
    • 30 g of protein

 

  • Cons:Not NSF Certified
    • Vanilla only tastes good in smoothies in my opinion
    • Contains stevia, which I am not sensitive to, but some of you might be or you may not like the taste of
    • Can be hard to mix unless you use a shaker bottle or a blender.

 

Do you use plant-based protein powder? If so, which brand and why? Do you have a question you want to see on here next? Do next hesitate to comment below, contact me on Instagram, or e-mail me at blackbeanqueen@gmail.com ! 🙂

 References

  1. Plant-Based Sports Nutrition by D.Enette Larson-Meyer, PhD, RDN & Matt Ruscigno, MPH, RDN
  2. Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook by Nancy Clark, MS, RD
  3. What is a complete amino acid profile? by Kelli Shallal, MPH, RD
  4. Whey Vs. Plant Protein by Abbey Howarth
  5. Artificial Sweeteners and Other Sugar Substitutes by Mayo Clinic 
  6. NSF International Certified for Sport 
  7. Informed Choice