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protein snacks for busy days

Whether you need a midday snack or a postworkout boost, protein is a good pick. This macronutrient satisfies hunger while keeping blood sugar steady, and it’s vital for building and repairing muscle. You might even have a jug of protein or collagen powder in your pantry to help support your health and fitness goals.

These days, there are plenty of protein powders to choose from, including dairy-­derived whey powder and plant-based options, such as pea, hemp, and soy. Whichever you choose, be sure you like the way it tastes before using it in your kitchen. (Not sure where to start? Get advice on choosing the right protein powder — plus some collagen guidance — at “Which Protein Powder Is Right For You?“)

While protein and collagen powders can’t fully replace the nutrients in whole-food sources, they can be a fine supplement. These recipes combine the best of both types of powders for portable, protein-packed snacks to keep you going when you’re on the move.

Mango Cheesecake Smoothie

ingredients for a mango cheesecake smoothie

Makes 2 servings •  Prep time 10 minutes •  Cook time 0 minutes

  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 1 cup organic, full-fat cottage cheese (with live cultures, if possible)
  • 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • ¼ tsp. ground turmeric
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder of choice
  • 2 cups frozen mango cubes
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender in the order listed above. Secure the lid; if you have a tamper, insert it in the lid.
  2. Blend, starting on a low speed and increasing to high until the mixture is smooth. Pause as necessary to scrape down the pitcher.
  3. Serve immediately, or transfer to portable containers. Keep refrigerated or frozen until serving.

Purple Collagen Smoothie

ingredients for a purple smoothie

Makes 2 servings •  Prep time 10 minutes •  Cook time 0 minutes

  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • ½ large avocado
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • ¼ cup vanilla collagen powder of choice
  • 2 cups frozen blueberries
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender in the order listed above. Secure the lid; if you have a tamper, insert it in the lid.
  2. Blend, starting on a low speed and increasing to high until the mixture is smooth. Pause as necessary to scrape down the pitcher.
  3. Serve immediately, or transfer to portable containers. Keep refrigerated or frozen until serving.

Almond Oat Protein Cookies

almond protein cookies

Makes 18 servings •  Prep time 15 minutes •  Cook time 16 to 20 minutes

  • ½ cup avocado oil or coconut oil
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbs. ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. almond extract, optional
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup vanilla protein powder of choice
  • ¼ cup flour of choice
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  1. Arrange baking racks in the center and top positions in the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the avocado oil, almond butter, maple syrup, flaxseed, and extracts. In a small bowl, mix the oats, protein powder, flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture until well combined. Stir in the sliced almonds.
  3. Scoop dough in 2-tablespoon portions and place on the prepared sheet pans with 2 inches between them.
  4. Place one pan on each oven rack. Bake for eight minutes, then rotate the pans and bake for eight minutes more. The edges of the cookies will be golden and the tops pale.
  5. Cool on the pans for five minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to a week, or freeze for up to two months. Pack individual portions in smaller containers to take on the go.

Chocolate Pecan Pie Energy Bites

Makes 12 servings •  Prep time 10 to 15 minutes, plus 30 minutes of refrigeration •  Cook time 0 minutes

  • ¾  cup pecans
  • 1 tbs. pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • ¼ cup chocolate collagen powder of choice
  • ⅛ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder, divided
  1. Place the pecans in a food processor or blender and grind to a fine mince. Add the maple syrup, dates, collagen powder, salt, and half of the cocoa powder, and process until the mixture forms a dough.
  2. Place the remaining cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Scoop level tablespoonfuls of the mixture, drop into the cocoa powder, and roll into balls as you coat. Place on a plate or sheet pan.
  3. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes, then transfer the bites to airtight containers. Keep refrigerated for up to one month. Pack individual portions in smaller containers to take on the go.

Chocolate Frozen Yogurt Bark

high protein chocolate frozen yogurt

Makes 8 servings •  Prep time 10 minutes, plus 3 hours to freeze •  Cook time 0 minutes

  • 3 cups plain, full-fat Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup protein powder of choice
  • 4 tbs. cocoa powder
  • 1 tbs. vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tbs. toasted pepitas
  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, maple syrup, protein powder, cocoa powder, and vanilla, and whisk to combine.
  3. Pour the yogurt mixture onto the parchment-lined pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle with walnuts and pepitas.
  4. Freeze until solid, about three hours.
  5. Using the edges of the parchment paper, lift the yogurt bark out of the pan and place on a cutting board. Working quickly, use a sharp knife to cut the bark into diamonds or squares. Alternatively, use your hands to break the bark into chunks.
  6. Place the pieces in an airtight container, with waxed or parchment paper between the layers. Store in the freezer for up to three months. Pack individual portions in smaller containers to take on the go.

Quick Grab and Go Ideas

Keep some of these whole-food options on hand for when you need a high-protein snack.

  • Hummus and veggie sticks. Get a few of our favorite hummus recipes at “Hummus, Three Ways.” Slice up carrots, celery, or bell peppers for grab-and-go dippers.
  • Nuts and seeds. A fistful of nuts or seeds provides protein and healthy fats, plus a variety of vitamins and minerals.
  • Nut butter and fruit. Try apple slices with cashew butter, pear slices with almond butter, or berries with hazelnut butter.
  • Boiled eggs. Portable by nature, a boiled egg is a great option for quick protein while on the move. Get our tips for making the perfect egg every time at “How to Boil an Egg.”
  • Cheese or meat sticks. When possible, pick organic brands with few ingredients. Choose a full-fat cheese for the best nutrient absorption, and avoid meat products with sweeteners, nitrates, nitrites, or preservatives.
  • Cottage cheese with berries. If you think of cottage cheese as a bland, watery mess, you need to know about the new, upgraded cottage cheese. Newer organic brands are available with live cultures and probiotics. They’re tastier than the conventional stuff — and healthier, too.
  • Bone broth. Rich in restorative, anti-inflammatory collagen, bone broth can be poured into a to-go mug and sipped at your leisure. Get our recipe for making your own at “How to Make Bone Broth.”

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This article originally appeared as “Protein On the Go” in the April 2023 issue of Experience Life.

Photography by: Terry Brennan; Food Styling: Betsy Nelson
Robin
Robin Asbell

Robin Asbell is a Minneapolis-based recipe developer and cookbook author.

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