First, I want to make it clear, that I am not being paid by the Garden of Life company for this review of their products. I simply want to share my thoughts and opinions based on my culinary arts background. As a chef, I am now a fan of plant based protein powders for my clients and for myself, however, this was not the case a few years ago. I had dabbled with whey protein powders for a few years and I found them to be tasteless, artificially flavored or kid -like in their flavor profiles. I found them to be excessively expensive for the amount you received, accompanied by the fact that I was, in no way- feeling better? Well, the change in my life came, when after experimenting with a variety of heavily researched whey protein powders, that I picked up Vega Brand -Plant Based Protein Powders. My wife and I, over the last few years, have moved steadily towards a cleaner food profile in our everyday meals and this was the driving factor in us moving towards a plant based protein powder. We had also just taken a series of raw cooking classes to hone my culinary skills and the ingredient list that we utilized, only confirmed my belief system in implementing a more vegetarian based food ingredient list into our own personal fueling system. I still was not convinced though, that protein powders were the way to go on a full-time basis with my professional athletes. I knew that I had to get more nutrients into my client’s bodies, but most importantly, I knew that I had to work hard on moving them towards healthier/ cleaner foods. Implementing plant based protein powders was one of the key moves I made for my clients in fueling them every day.
I love the Garden of Life Plant based protein powders because they are Organic, Non -GMO, Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, NO Added Sugars and is NSF tested and proven free from banned substances by world leading certifiers. The plant based protein powder contains 30 grams of protein. Now here is where you must read your labels, because my wife did this and I can see others doing it as well. When you read the directions, on the Plant Based Protein Powder, it says to add 2 scoops for the advertised number of nutrients on the plant based container, whereas, on the WHEY based container, you only need 1 scoop. When you add two scoops of the PLANT based protein powder to your preferred shake mix, you are not only adding all the nutrients, you are also adding an additional 85 calories to your drink. The scoop sizes are completely different between the WHEY & the PLANT based powder. SO, YOU need to be aware of the size of the scoops that you are utilizing and the number of calories that you are comfortable with taking in. Now for my clients, they are formula one racing cars, and I am Toyota minivan, so I must be careful of my intake, whereas on the other side, I fuel up my clients, especially now in spring training where they are burning up the calories. The brands and products that I share with my clients are tested, tasted and practiced on myself and my family first. When you have been in the food and beverage industry for over 30 years and your wife has been with you 30 years and your kids have tasted everything on the planet, you start to have a pretty good palate for what tastes good and what doesn’t. So, If I dig the product and my family likes the product, we then introduce it to our clients.
I fortify my clients shakes with as much anti- inflammatory and nutrient dense foods into their shakes as possible. They enjoy them immensely and they usually start every morning, especially during spring training, with a Fueling Performance Athletes power shake to get their bodies rocking and rolling in the morning. I have the special FPA POWDER MIX ready for them, as well as the FPA FROZEN FUEL FORMULA ready, so all they should do is get up, blend, get into the car and head to work. They arrive with nutrients and anti-inflammatory ingredients going to work in their bodies, and most importantly, they love the shakes.
As I said earlier, I am a big fan of the VEGA product line. I was working on providing my clients sports protein drinks when I was sent samples of the GARDEN OF LIFE SPORTS PROTEIN POWDERS AND BARS, bar reviews will follow in another blog later. We tested them, tasted them and we all agreed, we loved the product line. The difference from this product compared to others is the flavor. As a chef, the one key factor that I have found missing in the sports food world is the lack of flavor. My services cater to the performance athlete and the one thing that has made me successful in my business is the ability to make food taste great. My clients love my food, and when they love the food, they are more inclined to eat it on a consistent basis and begin looking for the next nutritious meal versus skipping eating all together.
Overall, the vanilla flavored Garden of Life- Plant Based Protein Powder is excellent. I also recommend using a Vitamix blender to add creaminess to the shakes versus other brands of blenders. I found the chocolate flavor to be better suited for a late afternoon or early evening fix. I also found the chocolate to be a great way to break up the daily routine of vanilla and fruit and I would add PB2 (a peanut butter powder) to the chocolate powder to make it more dessert in fashion and taste. You add more calories, but half of what almond butter or peanut butter would be. The WHEY Protein Powders are just as good, but my palate gravitates towards the plant based powder instead. I feel great drinking the Garden of Life Plant Based powders and after sharing it with my professional athletes, they are enjoying it just as much as I am while giving me big thumbs up for flavor and overall feeling! Enjoy!