Monday, December 14, 2009

The Better Protein Shake

I happened upon a vending machine, the other day, with plastic bottles filled with flavoured milk.  Gross.  There were all sorts of crazy flavours, meant to make the milk look fun and exciting.  In an attempt to make their product more palatable to a generation used to highly sweetened and flavoured products, the manufacturer loaded up their ultra-pasteurized (read: ultra-dead) milk with sugars, preservatives, and chemical flavour enhancers.  What's left? Definitely nothing of nutritional value.

Years ago, in an attempt to get in some good quality protein (as the fitness industry reminds us we must do), I opted for shake after shake of whey protein.  To be sure, I bought the good stuff, high quality with no sweeteners or flavouring, but I still ended up developing intolerances to the stuff.  In retrospect, I see the folly of ingesting an extract of a whole food.  Today, we stick with whole sources of protein, complete with the entire nutritional profile inherent in that food.  I want all of it:  the vitamins, the minerals, the fat, and the high quality protein.  Everything serves a purpose.

Our oldest daughter, a competitive rower, makes herself a protein shake every morning, after her workouts.  Her immunity remains high, even when under stress from her demanding training schedule and her fitness level continues to improve at a phenomenal rate.  Most of all, she recovers very quickly from intense training.   She has been able to significantly increase her lean, muscle mass while remaining very lean.  I don't attribute all of this to her post-workout shake, what she does with her diet for the remainder of the day is just as important, but the shake is a significant boon to her recovery, giving her body just what it needs while in a depleted state.

Sunshine+grass+cow = foundation of our nutrition-dense shake.  Image: TreeHugger
I hesitate to write a recipe for the shake simply because it's not the measurements that matter most, but rather the quality of the ingredients. We blend about 1.5 cups of raw, pasture grazed milk with 4 raw eggs, a few drops of vanilla, and a teaspoon or so of maple syrup or raw honey.  That's it. We just blend it up like that. We may, sometimes, use organic cocoa in the shake to change up the flavour.  In the summer, we might use some fruit, but in the winter, we avoid it. We also, sometimes, throw in some kefir or homemade yoghurt.

It's so easy to make and far superior to any product touting some miracle result.  The key is to find local producers that are able to provide you with nutritionally dense products from healthy animals.  I would never consume raw eggs from a grocery store, nor do I think that all raw milk is safe.  Just another reason to get out there and meet your local farmers!

Your farmer is waiting:
  • Local Harvest
  • CSA Farms Canada
  • Eat Well Guide
  • Eat Wild
  • Simply 'Google' local farms/biodynamic/grass-fed/organic +farms +your local region.  Contact the farmers and ask if they would have you out to see what they're up to.  Most farmers are happy to show consumers what they are raising and producing on their land.  Some of my most cherished relationships are ones that started out with a simple farm visit.

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