I wasn’t looking for protein powder, but when Organic Fuel Whey Protein Powder, made by Organic Valley, landed on my doorstep, I discovered that I liked it. The flavor is good, it doesn’t have a chalky taste and adds needed protein to my backpacking diet.
Protein powder is one of those products that never hit my radar. There are a few reasons. I’m an omnivore, so I eat meat and eggs and believe that I get plenty of protein. I’m a healthy eater and the one time I glanced at the ingredient list of protein powders at one of those mega-vitamin stores, the long list of polysyllabic ingredients turned me off. I don’t consume smoothies regularly, which cuts out a natural conduit for protein powders. So when I received some sample packets of Organic Valley Protein Powder along with some other products I was testing, I was at a loss as to what to do with them. The one place where I’ve focused on protein is backpacking, ever since I did a back-of-the-napkin calculation of nutrients in my backpacking menu. I discovered that my usual backpacking diet only had about 40 grams of protein per day, which is hardly enough to sustain a long-distance hike. That simple calculation eventually led to my book, The Hungry Spork: A Long Distance Hiker’s Guide to Meal Planning. I asked my Facebook Group, Healthy Gourmet Backpacking Food, and received some good suggestions, including adding it to oatmeal. I did a test at home, finding the vanilla flavor pleasing. I brought the chocolate flavor as well, planning to add it to my hot chocolate in the evening.
On my 150-mile Pacific Crest Trail section hike between Tahoe and Yosemite, my husband and I enjoyed the addition of the vanilla protein powder to our oatmeal each day. It dissolved easily in the warm mixture and added a subtle vanilla flavor. It didn’t change the texture at all so it wasn’t that noticeable. The addition of calories and protein offered a boost to start the day. I believe that it resulted in a longer period of satiety in the morning compared to plain oatmeal. We ended up using the chocolate flavor in our oatmeal as well, instead of my hot chocolate. We started considering it an integral part of breakfast and I didn’t have enough to do both. The chocolate flavor was light enough that it didn’t overpower the cereal. By the end of the trip, we were both fans of the protein powder but need to find another substrate as it will be a long time before we consume oatmeal again. I’m sure it will be just as tasty in my granola or grits.
One packet (35g) of Organic Fuel Whey Protein Powder contains 140 calories, 26 grams of protein, 2.5 grams of fat, 55 mg of sodium and 4 grams of carbohydrate. It contains the following ingredients for the vanilla flavor: organic whey protein concentrate (a milk product), organic vanilla flavor, organic sunflower lecithin, and organic stevia. There are no GMOs, antibiotics, synthetic hormones, artificial sweeteners, gluten or soy.
I add several other ingredients to my oatmeal to boost the flavor, calorie and nutrient profile. I set up an assembly line, mixing and matching various components to provide different flavors. Here’s an example of one combination so you can see how enhanced oatmeal can support a long hike compared to plain oatmeal.
Two packages of plain oatmeal contain 200 calories and 8 grams of protein.
Adding the following increases the calorie count to 435 and the protein to 26 grams.
- Hazelnuts-1 tablespoon
- Organic Fuel Whey Protein Powder-1/2 package
- Raisins-1 tablespoon
- Brown sugar-1 tablespoon
- Roasted flax seeds-1 teaspoon
- Chia seeds-1 teaspoon
Organic Fuel Whey Protein Powder now has a permanent place in my backpacking diet. I’m glad I discovered the versatility of protein powder. Now it seems like an obvious choice for backpacking. Better late than never!
12 pack for $40 on Amazon
All photos by Inga Aksamit.
Disclosure of material connection: I received a sample for testing purposes, but the opinions expressed are solely my own.