This delicious Smoothie will get your morning off to a great start. Most of us love chocolate so it’s great to know it’s a heart-healthy choice, especially if you choose dark chocolate. While it’s a great choice for breakfast, this chocolate chia smoothie is perfect for a snack or dessert, as well.
You don’t have to feel guilty about this one. The key is to choose chocolate in its more natural state, such as with cacao, cocoa, or nibs.
What’s the Difference Between Cacao and Cocoa?
For this recipe, you can use either cacao or cocoa powder but you may be wondering what’s the difference between the two.
Cacao is less processed because it’s made from unroasted cold-pressed cacao beans, and it’s also high in fiber and antioxidants. Cocoa, while less expensive than cacao, is roasted at high temperatures and will have fewer nutrients.
Health Benefits of Chocolate
Chocolate is full of antioxidants and flavonoids that have been shown to be good for your heart and brain. In fact, “arterial function was significantly improved within hours, and after weeks and months of chronic cocoa consumption.” Dr. Michael Greger goes into more detail in his video, Dark Chocolate and Artery Function.
And those who ate chocolate appeared to have lower stroke rates, too. Check out Dr. Michael Greger’s other video, Chocolate and Stroke Risk, to see the lowdown.
What’s not to love about chocolate. Just make sure you don’t overdo it or make excuses and eat chocolate candy bars that have too many calories, fat, and sugar.
Chocolate does have some caffeine so if you’re sensitive you might want to restrict having it closer to bedtime.
How to Make a Chocolate Chia Smoothie
FROZEN BANANAS: This Chocolate Chia Smoothie starts with a couple of frozen bananas, but you can also use bananas that aren’t frozen. The best way to freeze bananas is to peel them first, cut them into one-inch chunks, and put them into small baggies and into the freezer.
This is a great way to preserve bananas that are starting to get overripe. Frozen bananas are also great for homemade plant-based ice creams such as in this vegan Cherry Chocolate Ice Cream.
FROZEN CHERRIES: Cherries, especially tart cherries, have some of the highest levels of disease-fighting antioxidants compared to other fruits. Their dark red color helps reduce cholesterol and inflammation.
SPINACH: Spinach is another heart-healthy superfood because it’s a source of good nitrates which improve artery function.
OLD FASHIONED OATS: Old-fashioned oats are high in fiber. They have soluble fiber that may help lower your cholesterol.
CACAO: Cacao is high in antioxidants and flavonoids and is good for your heart and brain.
CHIA SEEDS: Chia seeds are a great source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids which are harder to get when eating a vegan plant-based diet. They’re also high in quercetin, another heart-healthy nutrient, and antioxidant that can reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
SOY MILK: Soy milk is a complete protein and higher in protein than other plant milk. Soy is not only heart-healthy because it’s high in isoflavonoids but is also safe and even protective against breast cancer. Read Dr. Fuhrman’s article, Don’t Fall for the Myths About Soy.
CEYLON CINNAMON: Cinnamon can lower blood sugars, has anti-oxidant properties, is anti-inflammatory, and can also reduce cholesterol which makes it a great heart-healthy food to eat.
Ceylon cinnamon is better to eat than cassia cinnamon which has coumarin in larger doses (6 grams daily) and can cause liver damage in some people. Watch nutritionfacts.org’s less than 2-minute video for more information. I like to err on the side of caution.
MEDJOOL DATES: Medjool dates are also high in fiber and a whole food source of sweetness. They have no bad effects on blood sugar or weight and show beneficial improvements in triglycerides and antioxidant stress levels.
Other Delicious Smoothies
As with most recipes, this one can be adjusted to your preferences. If you’d like fewer calories, eliminate the plant milk and use water instead.
I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments below for this Chocolate Chia Smoothie Recipe! If you have a photo, post it on my Instagram page, tag me using the hashtag #plantbasedcooking in your caption, and I won’t miss it!
Hearty-Healthy Chocolate Chia Smoothie
- 2 bananas frozen
- 1/2 cup frozen cherries
- 1/2 cup packed spinach kale or arugula
- 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1 cup soy milk (other plant milk or water)
- 1/4 teaspoon Ceylon Cinnamon
- 2 Medjool dates seeded, and cut into 1/4" pieces to help with blending
- Add all of the ingredients to a high-powered blender.
- Blend until smooth, tamping down when necessary to make sure all the ingredients are blended. Add more liquid if it is too thick.
- Each serving is about 2 cups.
- Medjool dates are best because they have more moisture. If you're using another type of date, soak them in a little hot water for a few minutes first and drain.
- Chia seeds tend to thicken the smoothie if left to sit for several minutes. Thin with more plant milk or water if needed.
- To reduce the calories and fat content, substitute water for plant milk.
- I recommend using Ceylon cinnamon because the other common cinnamon, cassia, contains coumarin, a compound that may be toxic to the liver at doses of 1 teaspoon per day for adults and 1/4 teaspoon for children a few times a week. See reference from nutritionfacts.org.
- The Nutrition Label uses soy milk and spinach.