6 Breakfast-Boosting Alternatives If You Hate the Taste of Protein Powder

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

When it comes to food, I’ll try anything at least once. I’m not a picky eater, and although I love great food, I’m down-to-earth enough to realize that not every meal needs to be earth-shatteringly delicious. Sometimes we just need to eat — and whatever food is around will do the trick.

One thing I really try and stay away from, though, is protein powder. For starters, I don’t like the taste. Whey protein tastes funky to me, and every plant-based protein powder I’ve ever tried is chalky and gritty. Even mixed with tons of other ingredients in a smoothie or some kind of baked good, I can pick out the distinct, not-so-great taste (and sometimes texture) of protein powder.

If you’re like me and just don’t like the taste of powdered protein, here are six easy ways to add protein to breakfast instead, beyond just opting for standard eggs. All pack around 20 grams of protein — about as much as a serving of protein powder — to help fuel you through the morning.

(Note: What constitutes “enough protein” varies from person to person, but the USDA recommends 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight, which for a 150-pound woman works out to 55 grams per day.)

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1. Make overnight oats with Greek yogurt or cottage cheese.

If you love meal prep or breakfast to-go, you’ve probably tried overnight oats. Although I admit I prefer hot oatmeal, I’ll sometimes make overnight oats for mornings when I know I won’t have time to cook. Mixing 2/3 cup of Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with 1/3 cup rolled oats makes a thick, creamy oatmeal base that you can dress up with whatever toppings you’d like.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

2. Blend Greek yogurt or cottage cheese into smoothies.

I’m all for keeping smoothies simple, which means I often just blend a cup of chopped fruit (my go-to is a combination of frozen blueberries and banana) with 3/4 cup Greek yogurt or cottage cheese, a few drops of vanilla extract, a pinch of cinnamon, and enough milk or water to help my blender liquify everything. If you don’t like cottage cheese, give it a chance here: It’ll make the smoothie taste a little cheesecake-y, and the curds (which some people are put off by) disappear.

3. Cook oatmeal in whole or 2-percent milk, and add some nuts.

Non-dairy milks are great if you’re allergic to or avoiding dairy, but they’re super low in protein. A cup of 2-percent milk, on the other hand, has 10 grams of protein. Combined with the 5 grams of protein in 1/2 cup of rolled oats and a little bit more from a drizzle of nut butter or a handful of nuts, that adds up to a satisfying, protein-filled breakfast.

4. Cook an egg into your oatmeal.

It might sound strange, but cooking a beaten egg into oatmeal actually adds a custardy texture. To do it, cook oatmeal just as you normally would, then remove the pot from the heat and whisk in a beaten egg. This way, the egg will cook slowly without scrambling, and you’ll end up with thicker, richer oats that also have an extra 6 grams of protein.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

5. Eat dinner leftovers, if you feel like it.

Some people can’t stomach meat and vegetables in the morning, and that’s fine. If that’s not the case for you, remember that you don’t need to eat traditional breakfast food for breakfast if you don’t want to. It’s not wrong to heat up leftover stew in the morning, or to eat a plate of roasted chicken and vegetables — maybe with a fried or hard-boiled egg on top — from last night’s dinner. Not only are these leftovers high in protein, but they also require minimal effort.

6. Sprinkle hemp seeds onto cereal or toast.

If eggs and dairy aren’t your jam, know that 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds pack just under 10 grams of protein. Stir them into your cereal, or sprinkle them on a slice of whole-grain peanut butter toast, for a breakfast that’s high in protein and totally dairy-free.