5 Ingredient Jam-packed Protein Cakes

One of my biggest frustrations over the past couple of months has been my inability to build muscle. I changed up my workouts, tried out new activities, nothing was helping.

As part of my shifting and staying motivated project, I decided to take a long hard look at my diet to see if there were areas I could adjust to give me the results I wanted.

I began to use MyPlate to analyze my macronutrient (protein, carb, fat) consumption and was surprised to see that I was only having 25 grams of protein a day; a big problem if you’re trying to build muscle.

Given my current training plan, I should be in the range of 85 – 110 grams of daily protein. Needless to say, I’ve been on a mission to increase my protein intake with healthy, whole food, balanced options. No whey, limited soy, and no expensive supplement type bars!

As a first step, I wrote down a general outline of what I eat on a daily basis, then tried to brainstorm ways to add protein to each meal.



AM snack


PM snack


PM snack

Base dietalmond milk, berries, spinachchiaseed, almond milk, stevia, apple, veggies Grain, veg or animal protein,   vegetablesVegetable sticks, hummus Salad, nuts/seedsveggies or fruit
Future protein adds 1 serving vega shake and go 2 tablespoon nut butteranimal protein
vegetable protein?????


Some animal protein options that I love:

  • Cook chicken breasts on the weekend and add to salads, soups, and sauces throughout the week.
  • Make a double batch of salmon cakes and keep them in the freezer for quick snacking.
  • Use cooked protein as a base for vegetable dips.
  • Quick and easy extra lean ground meat patties – 1 lb. meat (I like bison), 1 onion, 2 tablespoon ground flax, 1 egg. Mix and bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

Making the changes was relatively easy, but I couldn’t figure out how I could create a high protein evening snack. I wanted something that was:

  • Easy
  • Could be made ahead of time
  • Between 100-150 calories
  • 15g protein or more
  • Sugar-free

I tried microwaved coconut flour + egg (so gross), sweet egg omelets (I hate omelets), and even dessert hummus (I just couldn’t get into it).

Then something magical happened…

I haven’t been this excited over a recipe in a really, really long time!!

Chocolate Jam-packed Protein Cake

Gluten free, Dairy free, Sugar free, Yeast free, Corn free, Grain free

Finally, an evening dessert I can feel good about eating. These grain-free, gluten-free cakes have 15 grams of protein, 6 grams of fiber, and under 100 calories. I know I’ll stay satisfied until bedtime and get my chocolate fix.

Yield: 1 cake

Servings: 1


  • 2 tablespoon non-flavored hemp protein powder or other protein powder *see note
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened apple sauce
  • 10 drops liquid stevia or 1/2 tablespoon honey or other sweetener


  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix until fully incorporated.
  3. Drop mixture into a ~250mL (1 cup) oven safe ramekin. I purchased a bunch at Superstore for $1 each!
  4. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

note: If you have chocolate protein powder, replace the hemp protein and cocoa powder with 3 tablespoon protein powder.

calories: 98 | fat: 1.8g | carbohydrates: 9g | fiber: 6g | sugars: 2g | protein: 15g

Vanilla Jam-packed Protein Cake

Gluten free, Dairy free, Sugar free, Yeast free, Corn free, Grain free

Bake a couple of these cakes on the weekend, freeze, and grab when you need them.

Yield: 1 cake

Servings: 1


  • 3 tablespoon non-flavored hemp protein powder or other protein powder *see note
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 10 drops liquid stevia or 1/2 tablespoon honey or other sweetener


  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix until fully incorporated.
  3. Drop mixture into a ~250mL (1 cup) oven safe ramekin. I purchased a bunch at Superstore for $1 each!
  4. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

note: If you have vanilla protein powder, replace the hemp protein and vanilla extract with 3 tablespoon protein powder.

calories: 117 | fat: 1.6g | carbohydrates: 8g | fiber: 6g | sugars: 2g | protein: 17g


Importance of protein for athletes

Think of protein as the building blocks of your body. Protein consists of a combination of amino acids – structures that combine in a bunch of different ways to help build and support our tendons, muscles, bones, and other tissues.

Protein isn’t stored in the body, so it’s important for us to eat it frequently, and ensure we’re eating enough of it! If you’re fairly active, the protein that you eat is used to repair and rebuild muscle that is broken down during your exercises and helps to store carbohydrate as glycogen. Carbohydrates are ideal to fuel your workouts, whereas protein is required to rebuild after exercise.


Gosh, I just love these cakes and hope you will too! I enjoyed a chocolate one with a dollop of roasted cashew nut butter on top (mmm) while I worked on updating my FAQ and Training pages last night. We’re getting quite the collection of questions, programs, and workouts, oooeee!

Have a fabulous Friday :)

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Comments | Leave Your Comment

  1. Would this work with using a whole egg instead of a 1/4 cup whites?

    I’m trying to get more protein but I loathe tossing the yolk!

  2. These look so cute Leanne! I love making protein cakes, and I use a protein blend which makes them so light and fluffy when cooked. I hear ya on the struggle to build muscle. Getting protein isn’t really my problem (this might shock you but I think I get your daily amount in a single meal!), and I do strength train very regularly… I guess part of it is just because we’re women!! I’m excited to hear if increasing the amount of protein in your own diet gets you some positive results though. And judging by these cakes, increasing your intake shouldn’t be too difficult! Keep me posted!

    • I can tell you right now that in the couple of weeks I’ve been eating ~90g of protein/day, my muscle definition has shot through the roof!

  3. I am so with you on this! I just studied macronutrients and have really been focusing on my proteins lately. I slacked off on protein over the summer since I did not really have a kitchen to cook in and now I’ve lost a lot of the muscle definition I had before. I’m trying to find some good protein alternatives since I don’t eat meat and now I’m really working on my diet to get my nutrients where I need them to be. I’ve been making a higher protein oat cake for my treats lately. These look so good! I’m definitely going to try this out.

  4. This is such a good idea! I don’t have any ramekins, but I bet I could make a bigger batch of this recipe and fill up a muffin pan, and then freeze them for the week! Just might have to try that :) For the egg whites, do you use whole eggs and seperate the yolk, or do you use egg whites from a carton?

    & cashew butter? MMMMMM! I made some the other day and can’t get enough of it :)

    • Yes, that would totally work! I forgot to mention that I have tried multiplying the recipe by 4 and making 4 muffins out of it. They freeze SO well, too! I buy my egg whites from the carton. I couldn’t imagine throwing out all those yolks! I’ve heard that if you do use full eggs, you can freeze the yolks until you need them, but what would you do with all of them? haha Agree with you on cashew butter. That stuff is like crack. omg

      • I know that you can use yolks in custards or lemon curd, maybe ice cream too? But I don’t know anyone that makes those things on a regular basis! Though, if I had an ice cream maker, that’d be a different story… ;)

        • My gosh, I would have so many yolks in my freezer… that or I would turn into a cup of custard. eak!

  5. wow definitely giving these a try, they seem like a perfect post workout snack for me! I don’t have many of these ingredients on hand, I wonder if there is a substitute for the protein powder you used?

    • There sure is! I explained it in each of the recipe – you can replace the protein powder I used for others. The explaination is at the bottom of each recipe.

  6. Love this post, Leanne! I’m always on the look-out for more “sneaky protein” sources. :) I’d be curious as to what you think is the right ratio of proteins to carbs to fats for building muscle. I, too, am looking to tone up a bit. I eat quite a bit of protein, lots of healthy fats, and some carbs (mostly coming from veg/fruits…not many grains), but progress still seems to be slow in the muscle building department. Any thoughts?

    • Yes, sneaky is totally the way to look at it. A ratio that has really been working for me (but has been challenging to train myself to shift over to) has been 40% carbohydrates, 35% fat, 25% protein. What would you say your ratio is? Sounds like our food choices are very, very similar!

      • I don’t track my calories/ratios hardly ever, but I’m guessing it’s around 20% protein, 40% carb, 40% fat. What can I say? I love my coconut oil, nuts, and avocados! 35% is still a nice amount of fat, but I think it would be a challenge for me too to transition over to bit “leaner” of a plan. Now you’ve got me very interested in doing it, though. :)

        • There are definitely days that I’m 40% fat. I’m in the same boat… love my coconut. You have to do what’s right for your body though. The great thing is that we can just play around with it until we find what feels right!

  7. Why no whey? I really need to invest in some different protein powders because whey is all I have. I’ve been struggling with my protein consumption too. I’m a vegetarian, so my protein usually comes from legumes, grains (quinoa is my favorite) and some dairy, but it just doesn’t feel like I’m getting enough. My recovery time feels too long.

    This dessert may be the answer to my chocolate-filled prayers. I love that it’s so simple. And it would be the perfect excuse to go buy some ramekins, which I’ve been wanting for a while. One of my favorite go-to desserts is frozen banana “ice cream”. Not sure if you’ve tried it or not, but you stick frozen banana slices into a food processor and blend it up until it becomes creamy. I like to add a scoop of vanilla whey protein powder for a more ice cream-like experience. This seems so much simpler, though, that it may become my go-to dessert.

    • Dairy hurts my tummy something fierce, so I can’t have whey :( There are a lot of clean eating whey proteins out there though! So if you can handle dairy, do it up!

  8. Does the hemp protein and that “protein powder” flavor to what you are making? I really struggle with my protein in-take too but I loathe that protein flavor

  9. Awesome!!! Girl, I totally love following your journey and your honesty!! I love the looks of these cakes…yum!!

    I could never build lean muscle until I added Lactose Free Whey in my diet….since i added my shakes into my diet, boom, muscles :)

    How many days do you figure you eat animal protein? I hear its so good to add muscle, but I’m freaked to add it back into my diet…like chicken and such :)


    • I wish I wasn’t allergic to casein! It’s get’s me every time. There are so many clean eating whey powders out there. It would definitely make my journey a lot easier.
      I eat animal protein daily. Now, about 2-3 times a day with 1-2 vegetable proteins, depending on my activities for the day. So far it’s been amazing and I’m really, really seeing results. Animal protein isn’t for everyone. Having been vegan for so long, I just know that I feel so much better/healthier now than I ever did vegan. It was the right diet for me at the time, but I know I’m on the right path (for me) now.

    • I haven’t tried it, so I’m not sure. For this recipe, you’re really relying on the egg to do the job of binding everything together. I’d say… give it a try but can’t guarantee it will work. Sorry, Abbey :)

      • I might give it a shot. It’s such a small recipe it won’t be too upsetting if it doesn’t work. I’ll let you know how it goes :)

        • And even if it doesn’t work, it’ll still be edible! I ate so many of these while testing out the ratios! Would love to hear how it goes :)

    • Thanks for passing on the products, Rebecca! I’ve tried pea protein and really, really like it. I’ve made these cakes with pea protein, so you’ll definitely have success if you do the same. As for pumpkin protein… that’s amazing. I need to get me some of that! It sounds like it would be very, very similar to hemp protein. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work for this recipe also.

  10. Leanne
    Thanks for providing the link to my plate. I need to keep a food log to try to eliminate problem foods and this website is so much better than my simple “notebook” log I was keeping. I now can keep better track of my protein too as this also is a problem for me.
    Was it difficult for you to eat animal protein again after being veg? I am struggling with this reality as I have been veg over 20 yrs but now with escalating digestive trouble (Inc fructose malabsorption) I have had to greatly reduce many plant proteins. I am considering starting with fish but have no experience with it. If you have any advice for me I’d welcome it! Thanks :)

    • I’m glad you’ve found myplate useful! As for going back to animal proteins, beginning with fish is a great start. You could begin with cod, and halibut, then work your way to salmon. The next I tried out were eggs, then poultry, beef, then wild game. It was a transition of about 3 months. I kept it to 1, sometimes 2 servings per day for a couple of years, and just recently moved up to 2-3. Slow and steady wins the race on this one! Good luck :)

  11. I simply can’t wait to try out these lovely protein cakes, Leanne!! Have always been in search of ways to up my protein intake. Your post just blows my mind off! I try to do it the natural way though. Are protein powder actually overrated and necessary?

    Leanne, I have heard a lot about the benefits of coconut water. Would you let me in on your views of any recommended dosage of it if there’s any? Thanks!!

  12. I use MyPlate, too! I helps me so much :) I definitely would not be getting what I need without it!

    Great recipe girl :) Can’t wait to try it <3 Yay for muscle gain!

  13. Ha! I Googled an Australian supplier of the manitoba Harvest protein powder… look at the disclaimer they have on the order page… Crazy!

    * PLEASE NOTE* – Although this product has been produced in a state-of-the-art, 100% wind powered, USDA organic and kosher certified facility and is sold as a highly nutritious dietary supplement in every western country around the world, the Australian government prohibits the sale of Low THC – Hemp foods in Australia. It is important that this product is only used as animal feed or for external applications only.

    • hahah…. sooooo does this mean that you can order it for your ‘animals’? Any protein powder should do the trick if you can’t get hemp. Pea, pumpkin, and/or vega should work!

  14. I tried this with a soy protein powder and used 1 whole egg, the batter tasted like the exterior of a mooncake! Ha! It was good…although you’re not suppose to eat things that aren’t cooked that contain eggs…heh.
    But I think adding the whole egg (yolk and all) made it super tough. It was like rubber…or maybe it’s the protein powder? Eh, whatever. I’ll try this sometime following the EXACT ingredients :]

    • Well then you wont judge me when I say I eat the batter ALL the time. ;) Weird that it came out tough. Every version I’ve made have been a muffin consistency. I’m not sure if it was the whole egg – yolk has fat in it so if anything, it should make it more moist. It could be that soy protein powder is denser than hemp?

  15. Am I the only one who was confused by the lack of jam in this recipe? I was expecting these protein cakes to be packed with jam! :P

    But they sound delicious anyway. Totally going to try it – maybe I’ll do a big batch in a muffin tray.

    • I think you were the only one… but that totally makes sense! I should make one with jam :)

  16. I tried the 2 versions of the chocolate recipe tonight using whey protein powder. The first time around, I made the 3T chocolate protein powder version. Maybe I overcooked it, but I found the cake to be slightly rubbery and not chocolatey enough to suit my preferences. (I blame the protein powder. It was still delicious!) The second time around, I made the 2T protein powder/1T cocoa powder version and decreased the baking time to 15 minutes. It was much less rubbery and more fluffy and delicious! If you’re using whey protein should probably stick to the 2T protein powder/1T cocoa powder version, lest you end up with a rubbery (but delicious) protein cake.

    Next up, vanilla! And perhaps some experimenting with pumpkin in place of the applesauce. YUM.

    • Thanks for the whey warning! I’m glad you kept at it, making changes as you went. Totally worth it, right? Mm pumpkin would be delicious in there!

  17. Leanne –
    Hello there…just discovered your wonderful website not too long ago and have made many of your recipes. I made these protein cakes the other night, with not much success. I followed the recipe exactly, I do not have ramikens (yet) so I made them in a muffin tin…it filled 3. They baked up nice and puffy and smelled delish, however, when I took them out of the oven they deflated and were hollow inside, AND stuck to the bottom, yes, I sprayed the non-stick pan. They tasted good, albeit hollow and not much to chew. Soooooo, do you have any suggestions or hints for me..I really want to make these on a regular bases. Im training for a 526 mile bike ride from Houston to New Orleans and then a full marathon in September 2012, so I need to eat at least 90-100 gms of protein a day as well.
    Thank you for your help and all of the great recipes. :)

    Do or do not, there is no try ~ Yoda

    • Hi Christine! I’m so sorry that your cakes didn’t work out. That’s so odd. I’ve had many clients, friends and readers make them with no issue. What type of protein powder did you use? I’ve been told that whey protein makes for a hollow cake. If you used hemp protein I’m at a complete loss. I’ve made these cakes weekly for a couple of months and have never experienced what you did! Let me know, and we’ll take it from there :)

  18. Hi…I am so excited to try to make these. with a long search for a candida friendly recipe for Valentines day ….Our family has candida so we cannot have yeast, fruit soy, corn, dairy, sugar, etc. and this is one of the only recipes I found for a dessert. My only question out of the whole recipe is that we are not allowed fruit on this diet…so no applesauce..what would you suggest to replace it with?

    • Hi Rebekah – you could try pureed pumpkin, nut butter, or coconut oil. Enjoy the treat with your family :)

  19. Leanne,

    Husband is allergic to pumpkin..so I will try one with goat yogurt and one with coconut oil Hope it turns out yummy…so ready for a treat. Thanks so much

  20. This is so WONDERFUL! I’ve been looking for a little treat just like this!! Thank you for all the work you put into them =0)

  21. Dear Leanne, do you have suggestions how to veganize those protein-cakes? Or do you know any other options to use protein powder in baking / cooking?

  22. So excited to try these! I always get a sweets craving at night. These will be PERFECT.

    May I ask why you omitted whey protein as a protein source?

    • I use them for that same reason, Irene! I’m actually allergic to casein and lactose, so I can’t have whey :(

  23. hi leanne love your recipes=) ill definitely try this one! it looks great,
    i think you should check the tags on top of the recipe,
    because its tagged as dairy free and the recipe has eggs, ill try usind flax eggs and see how it works :)

  24. hi its me again i m sorry but as english is not my first language i made a mistake, about what dairy means
    :( forget what i said before lol things that happen when you mix different languages

    • That’s okay, no need to apologize. I’ve tried the cakes with flax eggs and while they don’t puff up as the ones with egg do, they’re still just as good!

      • Oh, may I ask how exactly you prepared them with flax “eggs”? I’m not that experienced with flax eggs but would love to try these delish-looking protein cakes.

        • For sure, all you have to do is mix 1 tablespoon of freshly ground flax seed with 3 tablespoons of water and let it sit for a couple of minutes. Voila, you have a flax egg! Enjoy :)

  25. Made these just now and they are so yummy! Nearly like a real chocolate cake I’ve found my new favorite dessert :) I had some trouble with them sticking to the ramekin though, even though I sprayed with oil? Any suggestions to stop this happening?

  26. Thank you! I just made these with chocolate protein powder and still used the cocoa powder. I sprinkled the top with 1/2 tsp. of mini chocolate chips and my teenaged son proclaimed them delicious. This & a green smoothie sounds like a breakfast winner for my kids!

    • I forgot to say I tripled the recipe and baked them in sprayed muffin liners for 6 muffins

    • Yum! I’m so happy that you like them, Tonya!

  27. Hi, I looked at other comments but don’t think anyone else asked this: I have fructose malabsorption and can’t have apple. What would you suggest as an alternative to the apple sauce? Thanks!

    • Hi Vasti – you could probably use pureed pumpkin. I’ve never tried it, but it may work!

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