I'm a big fan of Terry Hope Romero's previous cookbooks so I pre-ordered her latest, Protein Ninja, without reading a word about it.
When it arrived in the mail, I was a little surprised that a high percentage of the recipes rely on protein powder. I thought they'd be mostly tofu, tempeh or seitan-based. But, I do personally use protein powder to meet my protein needs, so who am I to criticize? It's a useful supplement! Romero suggests purchasing a few different kinds of protein powders -- pea, hemp, and brown rice -- to lend nuanced flavors to certain recipes. But that shit is expensive! So I went with unflavored Plant Head protein, which is a blend of all three, and I just used it in everything I made. It worked just fine. The powder's taste and texture weren't noticeable at all in my recipes.
First up was the Vanilla Almond Smoothie Bowl. What a creamy, delicious breakfast treat. I sprinkled on some hemp seeds to add a little crunch.
The Chocolate Hemp Avocado Muffins were Jackson's favorite, but Olivia claimed they weren't sweet enough. I like them with a little smear of Earth Balance.
The Early Bird Scrambled Tofu recipe makes a ton! I served it with Fluffy Rice Protein Drop Biscuits, which are the easiest and, yes, fluffiest biscuits I've ever made! Romero introduced me to a new method of using nearly-frozen coconut oil in the biscuit dough, and it worked out very well. The Tempeh Sausage Sage Gravy was also fantastic.
I took the leftover scrambled tofu and made it into breakfast quesadillas along with some cashew cheeze, vegan chorizo, and salsa.
The biscuit recipe makes eight, so I used the rest in a different recipe.
The Tomato Gravy and Biscuit Kale Bowl recipe starts by reassuring the reader that tomato gravy is indeed a thing. A measure of trust was required on my part, but it all worked out and the tomato gravy was, in fact, the best part. And that is saying a lot because I love those biscuits.
The Tempeh Bacon Strips included in the above recipe were good on their own as well. I marinated them overnight to soak up the most flavor. Jackson and Olivia gobbled them up.
Edamame and Pea Avocado Toast was one of the recipes that did not include protein powder. The pea and edamame spread was good and filling, and all the toppings made this single piece of toast almost feel like a meal! There is an entire chapter dedicated to nothing but toast recipes, and I want to make them all.
Next, I made two different kinds of veggie burgers to freeze for future meals. They both depend on protein powder as a binder. They held together well. The Green Goddess Burgers are chock full of vibrant green goodness -- spinach, parsley, cilantro, mint, and scallions. The Sunny Oat Burgers are a more traditional hippie-type veggie burger with a smoky flavor, encrusted with rolled oats and sunflower seeds.
Finally, the Five-Spice Chickpea Peanut Noodle Bowl was super filling and satisfying. Romero's recipes have always been complex, and this is a 4-parter. Roasted chickpeas, salad, soba noodles, and peanut sauce are prepared individually. But don't be intimidated by all the steps. I had everything ready to assemble by the time the chickpeas were done roasting.
The only thing I found lacking in this book was that no actual protein content was listed for any of the recipes. I figure that's because it differs depending on what brand of protein powder you use. An estimate would be appreciated though, since protein is the book's focus. But in terms of the actual foods and flavors in this book, I am nothing but impressed! Romero pairs various ingredients and flavors in ways I never, ever would have thought of, and each dish feels elevated and special. Even if you already get plenty of protein, I would totally recommend adding Protein Ninja to your collection.