One Ingredient Fixes to Jazz Up Your Vanilla Protein!

In many circles, being called vanilla is an insult.

But I think those people don’t know the true joy of vanilla. Even though I am a chocoholic all the way, I can appreciate a good vanilla for what it is. But with protein shakes, I guess my sensibilities just lean more toward chocolate, which is why there are so many chocolate-based shakes on this blog!

Yesterday we went over some “one ingredient fixes” to jazz up your chocolate shake. Today we conquer…vanilla!

Nik’s One Ingredient Fixes for Vanilla Shakes
A packet (or two) of True Lemon or True Orange

Calories: None!
Cost: About $3

If you’ve never heard of True Lemon or True Orange, you need to check them out. I gave the links for you to see what the product looks like but they are available in your local grocery (really…they are…), usually in the same aisle as your sugar substitutes.

If you go with the Lemon, I’d say go with two packets for a delicious lemon meringue pie shake. Two packets of Orange will yield an orange creamsicle shake. These can be achieved with sugar-free drink sticks as well but for those who don’t like their shakes super-sweet, these packets are a Godsend.

Root Beer Extract

Calories: None
Cost: $3 -5

I discovered this at the Amish market but upon further research, McCormick spices makes their own versionas well. Like I said yesterday, BE CAREFUL with extracts. Its so easy to add too much. Invest in a dropper. You will thank me later. But think of it peeps…a root beer float shake!!!

Cola Extract

Calories: None
Cost: $3 – 5
Cola Extract might be a bit harder to find in your local stores, but basically this is the stuff you mix with water, sugar and yeast to make soda. (Yeast??? Yes home-brewed sodas are usually made with yeast that produces “CARB-onation”…get it?) When added to a vanilla protein shake (again, in small quantities) I think you all KNOW what we get: Coke float protein shake!!! True, it’s not exactly the same because of the lack of fizzy pop but still. And speaking of cream sodas…

Sparkling Water

Calories: None
Cost: Varies

I’d say this should be a treat at best, since surgeon’s advice about carbonated drinks vary so widely. My advice: listen to your surgery staff. If they say no carbonation, stay away from it!!! For those of you (like me) whose surgeon’s never gave them this limitation (even after explicitly asking about it, thankyouverymuch), I suggest making up the best darned vanilla shake you are capable of making using milk as your base (about 5-6 oz.) Add just a bit of Splenda to sweeten it up.

Then, once it is all blended, pour it in a cup of ice and add about 2 oz. of sparkling water. Protein cream soda! Don’t drink this every day and certainly not a few times a day but if you get that craving for carbonation (and still need your protein for the day), I’d say having this as an occasional treat will not kill you, although surgeons all over the U.S. may now want to kill ME (ducks and runs…)

Sugar-Free Chai Tea Concentrate

Calories: None
Cost: $8-ish

Oh this is a favorite thing of mine to use. Davinci Sugar Free Chai Tea Concentrate is just that…a concentrate, not a syrup, but a concentrate, meaning you use a certain amount of this stuff and dilute it with some other type of liquid. For me that would be milk and I use it to make a cold chai shake like my Chai Click Frapp. If you like this Indian staple, it’s worth the investment. It lasts a good while as a little of this also goes a long way!

Some Favorites from yesterday (literally)

Some of the same things that jazz up chocolate shakes can work for vanilla too. Good decaf, including decaf instant espresso, makes a wonderful café au lait shake. PB2 added to vanilla is a peanut butter shake of course. Sugar-free puddings work well with vanilla too. Cheesecake flavor makes…a traditional cheesecake shake (TIP: add a packet of True Lemon to bring that flavor full circle). I am partial to sugar-free pistachio flavored pudding in my vanilla shake. Again the possibilities are endless.

So there you have it…some solid one ingredient fixes for a vanilla shake. Do you have any to add? Tomorrow we tackle a more challenging flavor: strawberry!

For Even More Great Shake Ideas

Check out the Bariatric Foodie Guide to Perfect Protein Shakes! This book is small but mighty, taking your protein shakes from “so-so” to “SO GOOD!” It’s part recipe book (with dozens of recipes, including how to make no-sugar added shakes that taste like some of your favorite candies), and part play-book (showing you how to turn your protein powder into protein ice cream, protein pudding and more!)

Bariatric Foodie Perfect Protein Shake Book Cover

Get Your Copy!


  1. I love using Pistachio pudding in my shakes; toss in a couple of cherries and blend for watergate salad, or drop in some cocoa powder for a spumoni! Yum!

  2. Here's somethings I added to my nasty vanilla (cause I can't throw it away!) shake to make it tasty or vaguely remind myself of a starbucks frap of some sort

    1 serving of nasty vanilla protein shake
    Decaf instant coffee powder to taste
    Powdered Ginger to taste
    Pumpkin Pie spice to taste*

    *i sometimes add additional cinnamon (what can i say? I need some oomph in my my drinks lol)

    mix and hopefully with a bit of magic….


    just what I do, in case you were wondering 🙂

  3. I have some VPX Graham Cracker Protein to which I add some instant lemon or cheesecake (either is equally YUM!) pudding mix in the liquid of your choice (usually unsweetened plain or vanilla almond milk for me)

  4. I was thinking the latest cold pressed coffee or juices, usually available at Trader Joes might be tastier than powdered coffee for that deep rich mocha / expresso flavor.

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