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Protein Power:
Five tasty recipes to help you stay fit


Anna Sward, author of the amazing blog, Protein Pow , shares a few of her favorite seasonal recipes and a PN
exclusive. Peanut butter and marshmallow protein cups anyone?

The holiday season approaches. But, for some of us, that leads to more anxiety than anticipation.

When you’re trying to lose weight — or maintain your fitness — the groaning sideboard can look like
nothing more than a setback waiting to happen.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. With some creativity and preparation, you can make thoughtful choices
and enjoy yourself.

Let guest author, Anna Sward, be your guide.


Holiday (em)powered

In most social environments, careful and
intelligent holiday food choices are frowned upon:

You won’t have some dessert? But it’s Thanksgiving! It’s Hanukkah! It’s Christmas! It’s the New

That’s why many people throw out their otherwise well-balanced diets and, come January 1st, become
desperate to shed the extra winter layer.

But here’s the thing: There’s nothing wrong with having some of your grandma’s pumpkin pie. Or your aunt’s
pudding, or a few of Santa’s stash of cookies.

Indeed, good health and a fit body is a life-long project. And sane eaters stay
relaxed and flexible
, allowing for the occasional indulgence.

It’s only a problem when we approach the holidays with an all-or-nothing mentality. We
think — and act — as if there are only two options: depriving ourselves completely or pigging out and feeling

It doesn’t have to be this way. We don’t have to oscillate between solemn “diet discipline” and epic,
off-the-rails-Vegas-style anarchy. We can find the middle ground, get creative, and be flexible.

One option: make your own delicious treats and bring them along with you. Here are a few examples.

4 favorite holiday recipes, plus a PN-exclusive

Recipe #1: Easy pumpkin soup



Soup is a great addition to any holiday menu because people often go a little crazy with the appetizers on the holidays. It’s great to have a healthy alternative.

I also love making this recipe when it’s cold
out and I’m looking for a quick, simple soup.

You can also tweak it to include more vegetables.  Enjoyed next to a protein-bread grilled cheese sandwich,
it hits the spot every single time.


1 small red onion, chopped
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tbsp (15 mL) of grass-fed butter or olive oil
1 small can of pumpkin puree (or fresh in which case you’ll need about a 1.5 cup [325 mL] worth)
2 cups (500 mL) of coconut milk
Salt or Herbamere + black pepper to taste
1 tsp (5 mL) of powdered chicken stock
A small sprinkle of nutmeg (it’s optional but nice)

Serving size

1 cup (recipe serves 2)

Preparation time

30 minutes total (10 min preparation time + 20 min cooking time)


Heat a large soup pot and add the butter or oil. Add the onions and garlic and stir well, then cover the pot. Let things cook for 5 minutes, or until onions are transparent and soft.

Add the pumpkin, milk, and seasoning. Using a hand-held immersion blender, liquefy the vegetables with the rest of the ingredients. You can also let the mixture cool and blend it in a regular blender, then re-heat it before serving.

If soup is too thick, add a little water until it has the consistency you prefer.

Recipe #2: Hearty Thanksgiving stuffing (gluten and dairy-free)



This healthier version of stuffing is a great option for those who worry about indulging in this holiday
treat. If you follow Precision Nutrition’s guidelines for eating slowly, and eating until just satisfied, it’s a
healthy part of a holiday meal.

Also note: this recipe is flexible: Adapt it to your tastes. Treat it like a blueprint to play around with.
For example:

  • Add cinnamon, thyme, cloves, and fresh rosemary
  • Add cooked bacon and/or sausage
  • Use barley and quinoa instead of rice

Play with it until you reach your ultimate
turkey stuffing formula!


2 tbsp (30 mL) of coconut oil (or grass-fed butter)
1 chopped onion
4 stalks of celery
½ cup (125 mL) chopped dried apricots
½ cup (125 mL) chopped dates
½ cup (125 mL) chopped cranberries
½ cup (125 mL) cooked wild rice or cooked oats (or half and half)
½ cup (125 mL) pecans
½ cup (125 mL) walnuts
2 eggs
1-2 cups (250-500 mL) of vegetable, chicken, or beef stock (or more/less if you want it drier/moister)
Splash of white wine (optional but nice)
Salt or Herbamare, to taste
Pepper to taste
A pinch or two of dried sage

Serving size

8 servings (or enough stuffing to fill one big turkey)

Preparation time

45 minutes total (15 min preparation time + 30 min cooking time)


Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot and melt the coconut oil or butter. Add onion and celery and stir occasionally until they get soft and transparent.

Add the chopped cranberries, dates, and apricots. Once it’s all soft, add the cooked rice (or cooked oats, or both), and throw in the eggs along with enough stock (plus a splash of wine) to hold it all together. Let it cook until it gets to a firmer, dryer consistency.

Add seasoning and nuts to finish. Either stuff your bird, or serve alongside.

Recipe #3: Peanut butter and chocolate
protein Christmas trees



This recipe uses quinoa flour. The stuff is
amazing – it’s extremely nutritious, bakes beautifully, is high in protein, and tastes delicious.

And who doesn’t like peanut butter and chocolate in the same bite?


½ cup (125 mL) of cocoa powder
¼ cup (75 mL) of chocolate whey protein powder
¼ cup (75 mL) coconut flour
¼ cup (75 mL) organic quinoa flour
1 tbsp of stevia (or Splenda if you prefer)
1 tsp of baking soda
3 large cooked beets, mashed
½ cup (125 mL) liquid egg whites
½ cup (125 mL) of milk
Peanut or other nut butter

Serving size

1 delicious tree

Preparation time

40-50 minutes (15 min preparation time + 25-35 min cooking time)


Preheat oven to 320F (160C). Blend all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, blend
all the moist ingredients (i.e. beets, egg whites, milk). Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix.
Pour into a greased baking dish.

Bake for about 25-35 minutes at 320 F (160C), or until the cake cooks through. (Keep an eye on it – don’t
let it overcook because then it’ll get super dry and rubbery.)

Using a medium/large tree-shaped cookie-cutter, cut out six trees. (If you don’t want to make trees, just
cut into regular brownie squares.)

Spread a little peanut or nut butter on top of a tree and plop a second tree on top for a “tree

Sprinkle some MCT powder on top
for “snow”. This is optional, but pretty cool because MCT powder is amazing and tastes like … heaven! It looks
just like powdered sugar too and, nutritionally speaking, the stuff is surreal. I mix it into my

Recipe #4: Peanut butter and marshmallow
protein cups



This sweet treat is lower in sugar and has 9 g
of protein and about 125 calories per delectable cup.


6 squares of 85% Lindt chocolate (i.e. 60 grams)
½ cup Peanut
Butter & Marshmallow whey
1 tbsp (15 mL) of peanut butter
2 tbsp (30 mL) of coconut flour
¼ cup (75 mL) of almond milk

* If you don’t have Cellucor’s Peanut Butter & Marshmallow whey, feel free to use vanilla whey. But I
really suggest you try Cellucor’s PB & M Whey. If you like peanut butter, you will love it!

Serving size

6 pieces

Preparation time

20 min preparation time + at least 1 hour freezing time


Melt your chocolate either in a bain marie (i.e. a glass bowl on
top of a pot of boiling water) or in a small non-metal bowl, using low power, in the microwave.

While the chocolate melts, make the filling of your PB cups by mixing the rest of the ingredients together
until you get a thick sort of batter. (Try not to eat it all. You’ll be tempted, trust me.)

When the chocolate has melted, pour half of it between 6 muffin cups. Then, add a dollop of the filling on
top and cover them with the rest of the melted chocolate. Put cups in the freezer for an hour or so, and then
“unmold” them.

Tip: Silicone muffin cups are great for this.

PN exclusive: Sweet potato protein bars (gluten-free)



Sweet potatoes are delicious, and they’re a
nutritional powerhouse.

(For more about sweet potatoes, see Regular
vs. Sweet Potatoes: Which are Healthier?)

Bonus: sweet potatoes also provide bulk and body in breads and muffins, whip into purées and soups, roast
or bake beautifully, and offer sweetness in these protein bars.


1 large cooked sweet potato
½ cup (125 mL) of vanilla pea protein powder (or rice protein, or casein protein powder)
1 tbsp (15 mL) of date syrup (or agave syrup or honey)
1 tbsp (15 mL) of coconut flour
1 tbsp (15 mL) of golden flaxseed (a.k.a. linseed)
2 tbsp (30 ML) of milk or coconut milk
½ bar of 90% dark chocolate

Serving size

4 bars

Preparation time

75 minutes total (15 min preparation time + 60 min freezing time)


In a bowl, blend all the ingredients (except for the chocolate) together. Shape the mix into four little
bars and put aside.

Melt your chocolate either in a bain marie (i.e. a glass bowl on
top of a pot of boiling water) or in a small non-metal bowl, using low power, in the microwave.

Once melted, dip your bars in the chocolate until they’re fully coated. Place them on a cookie sheet lined
with wax or parchment paper, or into a large plastic or freezer-safe glass container.

Transfer them to the freezer for an hour, or the fridge overnight, and voilá!


With some creativity, you can modify familiar
holiday favorites to be (a little) more nutritious while still satisfying. Just remember:

  • Eat slowly.
  • Eat smaller portions.
  • Eat until just satisfied.
  • Keep moving. Get outdoors for some fresh air.
  • Make and bring some healthy treats to share with your friends and family. Who knows? You just might start a new
    holiday tradition.

About the author

With a Ph.D. in modern languages, Anna Sward grew up in five countries and speaks three languages. She’s also an enthusiastic weightlifter who loves to eat nutritiously and cook.

In 2012, she found a way to marry these passions in her smart, funny, and intelligently focused blog, Protein
, where she showcases her delicious recipes for every possible kind of protein powder.

You can find Anna on FacebookTwitter, or
Instagram, download a copy of her mobile app, or pick up a copy of her cookbook.

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