Collagen protein, which is an important building block for our hair, skin, nails, joints, tendons, and muscles—and which we produce less of as we age—is one of the hottest supplements out there right now. The trendy protein is not only known for its contribution to strong, youthful hair and skin, but also for healthy joints and even gut function.
Though you’ve probably seen collagen starring mostly in smoothies on Instagram, this simple, single-ingredient supplement is incredibly versatile, and there are so many ways you can incorporate it into your diet—especially if you buy an unflavored variety.
Ready to have some fun in the kitchen? Here are some nutrition experts’ favorite ways to get their collagen fix.
1. Add To Baked Goods
You can easily increase the protein in your favorite baked goods, granola bars, and desserts by adding collagen, says Chicago-based dietitian Maggie Michalczyk, R.D.N. Her dark chocolate and blackberry collagen shortbread bar recipe packs in the collagen by using two scoops of the protein in the fruit mixture that’s spread across the shortbread.
Since collagen is tasteless and won’t affect texture, you can add it to pretty much any baked treat recipe. (Generally, two to four scoops of collagen will mix right into the batter of whatever baked good you’re making. No one will ever know!) Another personal favorite of Michalczyk’s: collagen-boosted cupcakes. “Add collagen peptides into the cupcake batter and just bake according to package or recipe instructions.”
2. Stir Into Soups
Stirring collagen into soup bumps up its protein without affecting flavor. It works especially well in soups and stews with creamier, thicker textures, Michalczyk says.
3. Make Energy Bites
Energy bites are an easy, no-bake way to satisfy your sweet tooth or grab some quick fuel when you’re on the go—and collagen was practically made to be added to them. Simply add a scoop or two of collagen to your usual mix of nut butter, chia seeds, goji berries, or whatever else you put in your energy balls, mix well, and roll into bite-sized pieces. New to the energy bite game? Try Michaczyk’s recipe for pumpkin energy bites.
4. Shake Up Some Mocktails
You can add any ol’ collagen to your favorite mocktail recipe, but flavored collagen—like Vital Proteins Strawberry Lemon Collagen Beauty Water—works especially well in these tasty, guilt-free beverages. A collagen mocktail is a great option when you want to treat yourself (and get your protein in) in a healthy way but don’t feel like slugging back a thick smoothie.
Try mixing the strawberry-lemon-flavored collagen into sparkling water and adding a few strawberry slices and a drizzle of honey for some refreshingly sweet and nutritious sips.
5. Mix Into Yogurt
Nut butter isn’t the only way you can add protein to your yogurt bowl (though it’s always a heavenly addition). “If you love a delicious parfait in the morning or as an afternoon snack, add half a scoop to one scoop of collagen to your yogurt and mix it before building your bowl,” says Jenni Bourque, R.H.N., co-founder of The Naughty Nutritionists food blog. It won’t affect the creaminess of your yogurt one bit!
6. Flip Some Protein Pancakes
The internet is chock-full of protein pancake recipes, so why not swap some collagen into your favorite? Or, if you’re a fan of those Paleo pancakes made with just eggs and bananas, throw a scoop of collagen into the mix. Heck, you can even add a scoop or two to regular pancake batter to bump up the protein and make them feel a little less like a pile of empty carbs.
7. Stir Into Eggs
Scrambled eggs are already a great, nutritious breakfast. Hey, they’re already rich in protein and contain the hard-to-find nutrient choline, which is important for brain function. But, for ultimate staying power, try adding collagen to your go-to morning meal. Just add a scoop of collagen to your freshly-cracked eggs, whisk until dissolved, and scramble as usual.
8. Blend Into Dips And Condiments
To give dips and condiments—like hummus, guac, bean dip, yogurt dressing, pesto, and queso—a boost of protein and nutrition, add some collagen, recommends Mirna Sharafeddine, R.H.N., the other co-founder of The Naughty Nutritionists. Add half a scoop to a full scoop of collagen to the recipe and stir until well mixed.
9. Add To Coffee
There are so many reasons why we love a good cup of coffee—from the comforting flavor, to the focus-boosting caffeine, to the brain health-bolstering antioxidants—and it also happens to be the perfect vessel for a daily dose of collagen. Sharafeddine recommends adding a scoop of collagen to your morning coffee, tea, or latte to make that mug more satiating and nutritious. To avoid clumps, stir the collagen into your beverage while gradually pouring out that scoop.
10. Make Avocado Toast
Just when you thought avocado toast couldn’t get any better…enter collagen! Mix a scoop of The Vitamin Shoppe brand Collagen Peptides powder with a mashed avocado, then spread it across two pieces of toasted whole-wheat bread. From there, top with cucumber slices, a fried egg (or hard-boiled egg crumble), and a sprinkle of paprika.