At TWC most of us are women on the go - we like food that's quick, tasty and nutritious - but doesn't take hours of preparation. After all, those hours could be well spent on the bike.
We also know that protein is a very important part of the recovery process and the more of it we consume, the more quickly those achey legs will start to feel normal again between rides. Therefore, when we noticed MyProtein offered a protein pancake mix that takes just minutes to prepare and contains around 22g of protein to 4g of carbohydrate, we were pretty excited.
Why do we need extra protein?
Protein intake, as we discussed with nutritionist Joseph Agu last week, is essential to muscle protein synthesis - the process of muscles recovering and becoming stronger after exercise. Athletes need more protein than most people because they damage and need to repair their muscles more regularly. Upping your intake can also help to prevent an athlete from dropping muscle mass if they're in the process of losing weight.
You can get your protein from sources such as eggs, cheese, meat and dairy - but by going for a protein product you isolate the protein, so you can concentrate on ensuring you get what you need, without by-products that you might not. Just don't forget you still need carbohydrates to fuel your ride and that fats are still important and have their place.
Protein Pancake Mixture
It's not uncommon for nutrition brands to attempt to turn perfectly good food-stuffs into high protein versions - we've seen protein popcorn, protein bread, and even protein coffee in the past. More often than not the outcome is destruction of a food that once held fond memories and us shouting: "just stick to the shakes with banana and blueberry, for all our sakes!" Protein pancakes, however - we'd yet to try.
There are four flavours available in this mixture - Chocolate, Golden Syrup, Maple Syrup and unflavored. We went for Golden Syrup, which contains 31 per cent protein blend from whey and egg whites. Whey protein is the best quality as it contains a high dose of an amino acid called leucine which helps trigger synthesis. It's also fast acting so gets into your blood stream quickly. There's also 13 per cent ground oats, plus flavouring, raising agent (sodium bicarbonate) and sweeteners.
The nutritional information is given per 1.5 scoops, though we found we used two scoops to make two pancakes (one each unless you're feeling greedy!) which works out at 127 calories with 22g protein and 6g carbs.
So - how did the cooking process go?
The Making of the Pancakes
Pancakes, like omelettes, have always been a stumbling block for me. I struggle to get the consistency right, and more often than not end up with a mixture that's just a little too thin, or a little too thick - the end result being multiple clumps of unsuccessful batter being hurled into the kitchen bin whilst my other half runs for cover. So I was a little apprehensive these might go the way of all pancake batter.
However - the instructions did sound brutally simple when compared to the Nigella/Delia Smith/BBC Good Food varieties I've previously followed.
Step One: Tip in two scoops worth of pancake mix
Step two: Add 100-150 ml of plain water
Step three: Stir or whisk
Step four: Heat oil or butter in a pan - I used coconut oil because it's said to be less damaged by heat, more easily digestible, and in my opinion it tastes rather good.
Step five: Pour in the mix. This is where it all has potential to go wrong, so I held my breath as I ladled around half the mixture into a pan and swilled it around.
Step six: Flip. At this point, the underside had begun to crumple around the edges, which meant slipping a 'flipper' (is there a technical term?) underneath the now flat mixture was actually rather easy and there was only one moment when I thought I might be left with a pancake half way across the kitchen or stuck to the ceiling...
Step seven: Roll out and serve - I chose natural yogurt and berries for topping, but this will come down to personal taste. Repeat stage 5-6 for pancake two, and serve one to a friend. Or be very greedy - and since these do genuinely taste heavenly, it would be very easy to gobble them both.
All in all, I'd find it hard to fault these scrummy snacks. Not only does the pre-mix make getting the pancake just right incredibly easy, but they do contain a high dosage of fast acting, good quality protein with very little fat, sugar or salt. The texture was bang on heavenly perfection, and though very sweet the taste really was wonderful. Add in that I felt almost instantly full and we're on for a winner.
A 200g pouch will cost you £4.99 - clearly that's more expensive than your average non-protein enriched version which might set you back about half as much - we found 155g of Betty Crocker Shake to Make mix for £1.50. There's also the added concern that with this mix you do get some far from natural flavouring and sweeteners (Medium Chain Triglycerides, Sodium Caseinate, Glucose Syrup Solids, Sucralose, and Soy Lecithin) which you wouldn't find in a mixture of eggs, milk and flour.
Weighing up the pros and cons, I do think I'd buy this again - though perhaps saving it for killing those sweet-tooth cravings whilst sticking to a standard protein powder (or scrambled egg!) for everyday recovery.