Xanthan Gum Magic

Have you checked out my dear friend Heather’s Meatless Monday A-Z project? If not, you’ve been missing out?

I will admit this: I have been a big fat slacker when it comes to creating recipes for this initiative. I think her idea to have a different ingredient beginning with each letter of the alphabet for recipes to be based around is wonderful, but I rarely got my act together enough to work on my own to contribute.

Better With Veggies

When I saw the ingredient for the letter “x” was xanthan gum, I knew it was something I could easily participate with. I hesitate to even call what I’m sharing below a recipe, since it’s more of a collection of tips and information. Regardless of that, here it is!

I’ve had xanthan gum on hand at all times for a while now. I think the first time I became aware of using “gums” as thickeners for smoothies was while reading this post on Deb’s blog a few years ago. As you can see from Deb’s post, guar gum can also serve as a wonderful thickener (and I often combine the two). I’m not going to repeat all of the information that Deb shared about both gums, but I can tell you that it’s definitely worth checking out!

Xanthan gum can be a little bit pricey, but if you buy a whole bag of it, it will probably last you a few years! I prefer to buy small amounts at a time from the bulk section of the my local organic grocery store. (I keep it stored in the freezer.)

xanthan gum

You only need a tiny bit of xanthan gum to thicken a smoothie- and you really have to be careful not to add too much. If you go overboard, there’s really nothing you can do to save it. :( I use xanthan gum in almost every smoothie I make- which is why I often eat them with a spoon!

Last week, a friend of mine gave me this protein powder that she had bought from Wegmans and didn’t care for.

whey protein

whey nutrition

I never buy whey protein powder, because I have a preference for plant-based, but I thought I’d give this a shot anyway. And, it actually tasted pretty good! Many types of whey protein powder just taste overly sweet or artificial to me, but this was not the case here. Ever since I got this powder, I decided to change up my nutrition a bit in the morning.

I’ll admit it- I have a horrible habit when it comes to eating after I exercise. Sometimes I wait as long as two hours until I eat after my morning workout. I know that’s not good, but I’ve just gotten in the habit of waiting until I shower and get everything ready for the day until I tackle breakfast. Plus, I’m often done my workouts by 7:00 am and am not ready to eat a big meal that early (and I try to make breakfast my highest calorie meal of the day). I don’t know why this idea never came to me before, but I decided to start making a small protein smoothie/shake directly after a workout and then have a smaller breakfast an hour or two later. Consuming a combination of protein + carb directly after exercise helps repair/re-build muscle tissue and restores glycogen, which is obviously beneficial! Shame on me for knowing this for so long and ignoring it in my own routine, especially considering what I do for a living!

I’ve decided to change my habits and have been enjoying this post-workout smoothie for the last week:

whey smoothie

If you just combined all of the ingredients listed below without the xantham gum, the consistency would turn out completely differently (and not in a good way). Rather than being icy and chunky, it’s thick and smooth and dreamy. :)

Post-Workout Smoothie

1/2 c unsweetened almond milk

1/2 of a small frozen banana

1 scoop protein powder of choice

1/8 tsp (or a tiny bit more) xanthan gum

3/4 c water

large handful of ice

Add liquid to blender first, then add remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth.

It’s pretty easy to throw this together after I get home from the gym, because it literally takes two minutes. And I can drink it in two minutes as well. :)

Check out Laura’s post about xanthan gum yesterday- she created a much more creative recipe than me. :)


ONE more order of business: the winner of the Valentine’s KIND giveaway is:

Screen shot 2013-02-19 at 9.25.06 AM Screen shot 2013-02-19 at 9.25.47 AM

Congrats Rob! Please email me at lauren@oatmealafterspinning.com with your name/address!

Have a terrific Tuesday!

Do you use xanthan gum? What’s your favorite post-workout recovery fuel?


  1. Thanks for the link back to my Butternut Banana Shake! I alwyas use xanthan in my shakes – I like to eat them with spoons. :)

  2. I use Xantham Gum as a thickener, especially for sauces since I don’t use starch or flour. I have a great tip – Xantham Gum can be tricky to use, you only need a tiny bit, and it is difficult to add it without getting clumps. The solution? Put the Xantham Gum in a little salt shaker, and you can just shake in what you need, and NO clumps! :-)

  3. Dude that looks like some stuff I’d see on a Food Network show about molecular gastronomy and never touch. But you make it sound pretty easy to use! I definitely prefer my protein shakes on the thicker side, maybe I’ll pick some up.

    • Lol! It’s not THAT crazy. But yeah- it is GREAT if you like super thick shakes (which I do) that you have to eat with a spoon. Just add it in SLOWLY.

  4. I told Laura this too . . . I use a combo of xanthan and guar gum for my smoothies. They seem to compliment each other and make a for a super smoothie and creamy drink. :)

  5. I’ve never used Xantham gum…kind of one of those things that I’ve made it this far without…however, I do use Garden of Life Super Seed in smoothies and the chia and flax goodness make smoothies nice and thick.

  6. The gums CHANGED MY LIFE. THank God for Deb.

  7. I am excited to have found xantham gum in bulk, especially since I had no reason to ever use it before! The guar gum will be fun to play with, too, to see the differences, etc. I hope it works just as well, honestly, because for some reason I feel better about using it since it is plant-derived (and cheaper :)).

    I am SO BAD about waiting too long to eat after working out as well. I tend to want to make sure everything else I need to do is done and then focusing in on that. I guess it just goes to show that we do things we know we shouldn’t, despite being highly ‘health educated.’ This might make a case for not judging others who don’t even know any better, in a way!

    Maybe I need to become a smoothie drinker? If I keep using the gums, then I can still feel like I’m eating my food, rather than drinking it, which I don’t like—mostly because it goes by too quickly!

    • I don’t like to “drink” smoothies for the same reason. I like to “eat” my food! Making it super thick and eating with a spoon makes it seem like ice cream. The ones that I drink after a workout are small and I know I’m still getting breakfast after, so I don’t feel cheated.
      Perhaps you need to come back to my house so I can make you the best smoothie ever…

  8. I’ve never actually bought xantham gum before–sounds quite interesting!

    I LOVE eating right after a workout–or drinking. I always have whey protein shake right after BP or GRIT & it helps a ton!

  9. I’ve totally had one of those ‘not in a good way’ textured smoothies. Yuck. This is a cool idea. Question – is it 1/8 teaspoon? Tablespoon?

  10. okay… after seeing all this xanthan gum deliciousness, I must go get some. your smoothie is calling my name. plus, i love eating smoothies with a spoon.

  11. I’ve never used xantham gum (although I’ve seen it in lots of ingredients lists). I always assumed it was some lab-made chemically thing. But I love the sound of thickening up my smoothies!

  12. I didn’t know breakfast was your highest calorie meal of the day – mine is definitely not. Is that because most of your workouts are in the AM?

  13. How much do you use in your yogurt? I make 6 6oz of yogurt in a yogurt maker and would like to use almond milk, it doesn’t get thick without some thicknering, Melvina


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