Lifestyle, Nutrition

5 Protein-Packed Guiltless Pleasures

As a comfort eater, nutrition has always been a challenge for me. Striving to fuel my body with the right nutrients while keeping my inner fat kid happy is a delicate balance; I want to lead a long, healthy life… But I also want tacos. And cupcakes.

Over time I’ve realized it’s possible to build better habits in my diet and enjoy myself along the way. Indulging now and then is fine, but I’ve also learned there are ways to indulge while staying on track with my nutritional goals (like wholesome twists on favorite recipes). I’ve also discovered some neat products that help me satisfy comfort cravings while meeting my dietary goals. Today we’re going to look at five of my favorite products for “guiltless” indulgence.

1. Halo Top Ice Cream

This stuff right here is the real deal. Full on late night, post-breakup, chick flick marathon and a box of tissues kind of sweet, creamy comfort that touches the soul. Halo Top ice cream, in all its of dreamy flavors, is renown for tastiness, high protein content and an ultra low fat and calorie count. My husband’s favorite (birthday cake) delivers whopping 24 grams of protein with only 6 grams of fat and 280 calories by the pint. It’s the ice cream of gains.

The challenge is getting ahold of it, as many stores don’t carry it (and those who do often sell out quickly). Never fear, though. Halo Top’s website includes a store locator where you can be matched to retailers in your area carrying their product. The company will also ship orders now directly to your door. Halo Top ice cream typically runs for $4.99-5.99 per pint (sometimes $3.99 on sale). It’s a little pricey, but then again, we are talking about magically light and delicious protein ice cream here. It’s also the only ice cream I’ve encountered that can nurture the soul while growing the glutes, so that seems like a fairly even trade off.

2 Lenny & Larry’s Complete Cookie

My first thought after reading that these cookies have no eggs, dairy or soy was that they must also have no flavor or business being in my life. Imagine my surprise when tried one and found myself biting into a soft, chewy, rich hunk of deliciousness. I’m talking slap your grandma kind of delicious here, people.

(Not really. Sorry, Nana.)

They advertise a variety of flavors and the cookies can be purchased individually or by the box. You can find them online, in specialty supplement stores as well as general retailers like Target and Walmart. I’ve had the best luck with these buying them by the box at Walmart for $5.28. When I’ve bought them individually, I’ve noticed a variation in consistency (occasionally a little tougher and/or dryness). Directions on the package suggest storing in a cool, dry place so I’m not sure if it could be a difference in how those cookies were stored, but when all else fails, a little in the package squeeze to test for optimal cookie squishiness has never let me down. (I take my snacking quite seriously.)

Also, they’re huge. Half of one cookie is considered a serving size, with a total of 360 calories, 8 grams of fat and 16 grams of protein go into one full Snickerdoodle Complete Cookie. For my protein guzzling husband, that’s an afternoon snack. For me, it’s closer to a meal, so I usually tackle half a cookie at a time. There are some negative stigmas attached to vegan health foods, but I’m telling you now, this vegan cookie may blow your expectations.

*Update: Since publishing this review seven months ago, I have noticed an increasing variation in product consistency purchasing The Complete Cookie. I’ve had the most luck buying them by the box at Walmart but, on a couple occasions, discovered I’d gotten an unfortunately dry or stale batch. While this was quite disappointing, the company seems to do a good job in working with customers to reimburse or compensate them in these situations. In spite of some of these inconsistencies, I still really do enjoy this product and would recommend it as a favorite treat.

3. Quest Protein Bars

If you’ve taken a spin in the protein products world, you’re probably familiar with the disappointment of the stereotypical protein bar. A dry, chalky, dense kind of disappointment that leaves a funky taste in your mouth and sorrow in your heart. It’s equally distasteful knowing with the sheer volume of sugar, fat and calories crammed into some of them, you might as well be eating a candy bar.

Quest bars pack protein without an excess of fat or calories, are gluten and soy-free and the company advertises the bars are made with plant-based sweeteners. They’re also pretty tasty. One cinnamon roll bar delivers 20 grams of protein, 7 grams of fat, 1 gram of sugar and 170 calories. The typical Quest bar goes for around $2.50 and comes in a variety of flavors. Health and supplement stores carry them, but I’m also seeing them pop up in gas stations and general retailers like Walmart.

They are still a protein bar, so they do have an element of density and hint of whey taste. They’re not a candy bar, but you can find yourself eating them like one. I enjoy Quest bars as an occasional treat and will sometimes snag one to satisfy those pesky, once-a-month cravings (I know you feel me, ladies).

4. Quest Cereal Protein Bars

Quest also recently introduced a line of cereal protein bars. They’re relatively new, but I still found them interesting enough to review. They’re made to satisfy the cravings of your typical cereal bar, but with more bang per bite. Similar to the original Quest bars, they’re advertised as high protein, low in fat/carbs/calories, gluten free and made with plant-based sweeteners (specifically Allulose). With 12 grams of protein, 4.5 grams of fat and 110 calories in the cinnamon roll bar, it’s a lighter snack alternative to regular Quest bars. Quest has also done a mini-campaign about their choice to use Allulose in their cereal bars because although it is a plant based sweetener, the FDA requires it to be counted in the sugars as a monosaccharide (giving the cereal bars an 8-gram sugar count for the 8 grams of Allulose used).

The bars retail for $1.99, come in three flavors (chocolate, waffle and cinnamon roll) and can be found online, in certain health and supplement stores and Walmart. I’ve tried the two flavors pictured above and of the two, the cinnamon roll was my favorite. Similar to the original Quest bars, there is a slightly chewy texture and a hint of whey, but the cinnamon roll bar did indeed remind me of my favorite cinnamon crunch cereal as a kid. It was a nice sized snack when the mid-afternoon munchies hit and I would try one again sometime.

5. Kodiak Cakes Flapjack and Waffle Mix

There seems to be a special bond between the world of fitness and the protein pancake; it’s all the comfort of Saturday morning brunch, with the gains to help grow that booty and pump that iron. Kodiak Cakes deliver that and more with their flapjack and waffle mix. The mixes are packed with whole grains, complex carbs, protein and a long list of possibilities in the kitchen.


They make a mean waffle or stack of flapjacks.


Or a big batch of blueberry protein muffins.

…or chocolate protein muffins. (You really can’t have too many muffins in your life.) The mix is great for other things too, though, like cookies, cakes, brownies, donuts… Even smoothies. The Kodiak website alone is bursting with recipe inspiration.

Kodiak Cakes produces their flapjack mix in an assortment of mixes, some packed with extra protein, super foods or even gluten-free. They also have a variety of single serving products, but my favorite item is the Protein Packed Flapjack and Waffle mix. The box mixes retail between $4.99-5.99 depending on the retailer and can be found online and in certain health stores as well as general retailers like Target, Bi-Lo and Walmart. (Check out the recipe section of the blog for some of my personal protein muffin recipes.)

And there you have it, five of my favorite protein-packed (mostly) guiltless pleasures. At the end of the day, you can never beat clean, wholesome foods in your diet as the best source of protein for your body. I don’t rely on products like these to replace or substitute that source of nutrients in my diet, but I do enjoy incorporating them here and there for fun. Trying and discovering new foods and products in my fitness journey has been a fun and exciting part of the adventure, and I look forward to more tasty explorations to come. If you’re an adventurer yourself, I hope this list leads you to some happy exploring in your own journey.

(I’m in no way sponsored or compensated to promote any of these brands, these are just some products I have personally discovered and enjoyed.)

All writing and images copyright © 2016 Rachel Elise Weems Woods

6 thoughts on “5 Protein-Packed Guiltless Pleasures”

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