This Valentine's Day, show your special someone some love with a chocolate cherry green smoothie–made with cacao, spinach, almond milk and collagen protein, and without yogurt or bananas, this healthy, dairy-free recipe is Paleo, vegan-friendly and great for sleep, weight loss and nourishing your body.
OMG, it is the day before Valentine's Day and I'm a feeling a bit behind in terms of planning. Matt and I aren't big on celebrating Valentine's Day (in fact, I wrote an essay for the Washington Post many years ago about how much I hate this holiday), and his birthday is February 15th.
So, I normally try to lump the two holidays into one… and by lump, I mean completely ignore V-Day. It usually helps that we've been out West skiing every single Valentine's for the past five years, as it makes us feel like we're doing something to celebrate without actually having to do anything. It's perfect.
But this year, Valentine's Day falls three days before our ski trip and so here I am, the day before, in a bit of a panic that I haven't planned anything. Mattie, if you're reading this, I'm sorry. I'm a bad wife who just has never cared much for Valentine's Day.
But what I can get on board with: FOOD. And what better way to a man's heart than through his stomach (isn't there some saying expressing that sentiment, usually in the form of some cheesy embroidered pillow or sign you hang above your toilet?)
So this Valentine's Day, I'm showing my loved one some love with a smoothie. It's got chocolate and pinky-reddish-purple fruit and that's about as close to Cupid as you can get in my book!
Yes, this Chocolate Cherry Green Smoothie may actually be the best present I've ever given Matt for Valentine's Day (which isn't saying too much, I suppose, considering the bar was previously set at a stick of gum from the gift shop at the airport).
The point is, Valentine's Day is overrated and this Chocolate Cherry Green Smoothie is anything but!
Make it for breakfast, serve it for dessert or whenever you're in the mood for something sweet, and I guarantee you, you'll be consumed with love 😉
I'll admit, I didn't actually know about either of these recipes when I created my version, but I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who adores the combination of chocolate and cherries.
How to Make a Chocolate Cherry Protein Shake
Like all of my smoothies, you really just need fresh ingredients and a blender (I recommend Vitamix, which you can buy on Amazon or order through Vitamix.com for potential sales/discounts) to make this bad boy. As usual, I rely on non-dairy milk for my liquid and mild spinach for my leafy greens since their presence always goes unnoticed tastewise.
I always like to add either chia seeds or flax seeds to my smoothies for a fiber and omega-3 boost, and I can't get enough of Vital Proteins' collagen peptides–they're high in protein and amazing for digestion, skin, inflammation and joint health.
Most of the recipes I've seen for chocolate cherry smoothies also add bananas or yogurt, but I know a lot of you are looking for smoothie recipes without bananas or yogurt, so get excited. You won't find any here. But rest assured, this smoothie is still plenty creamy and dreamy.
Here's why: chocolate. Enough said.
We've talked before about the difference between cocoa vs. cacao (read this story to refresh your memory as there's a HUGE nutritional difference between the two and you always want to use cacao over cocoa), so it's no surprise this recipe calls for the superfood, cacao (specifically raw, unsweetened, organic cacao nibs). Did you know raw cacao powder contains more than 20 times the antioxidant power of blueberries? Yes, I'm talking about chocolate!
Cacao is actually chockfull of nutrients, particularly calcium, zinc, iron, antioxidants, vitamins B, C and E, protein, fiber and heart-healthy oleic acid (an essentially fatty acid). And in fact, eating raw cacao powder can lower insulin resistance, reduce blood pressure, and protect your body from free radicals and other ills like heart disease and stroke.
Don't have to tell me twice to eat more chocolate! 😉
Health Benefits of a Chocolate Cherry Green Smoothie
We've already talked about why cacao is so good for you, and coupled with leafy greens (I use spinach, but you can substitute kale if you prefer) and cherries, the health benefits of this smoothie are far-reaching.
For starters, the nutrients and bioactive components in cherries help with the prevention of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, inflammatory diseases and Alzheimer’s disease, plus their high levels of antioxidants fight free radical damage and protect our cells. (source)
Not only that, but cherries are high in fiber and vitamin C, and sweet cherries have a low glycemic index of 22, making them a great choice for anyone watching their blood sugar or insulin.
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Take a look at some of the other health benefits of cherries:
- Cherries promote weightloss: Studies have shown eating cherries removes excess body fat and reduces inflammation, thereby reducing your risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
- Cherries help you sleep: Cherries are the perfect midnight snack (or any time of the day) because they increase melatonin levels, which helps control sleep and wake cycles. So if you have trouble sleeping, try eating some cherries–you'll likely find that cherries will help you fall asleep, stay asleep longer and sleep better overall.
- Cherries help with digestion: It's no secret consuming fresh fruit of all kinds can help regulate digestion thanks to their fiber and nutrient content. Likewise, and there's really no delicate way to say this, but cherries, in particular, make you poop. Unfortunately for some, cherries can also make you fart. Because cherries contain FODMAPs, they can cause bloating and gas. So if you're on a low-FODMAP diet, or you notice that cherries give you an upset stomach, you may need to scale back. (source)
- Cherries are good for gout: The painful, arthritic condition of gout causes high uric acid levels, which can then cause other health issues, including diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease. Interestingly, studies have shown that treating gout with cherry extract lowered patients risk of gout attacks and provided pain relief. (source)
With all this cherry talk, you might be wondering if cherries are in season. While I'm very much a proponent of seasonal cooking, I always opt for frozen fruit in my smoothies (it's peaked at the peak of ripeness and flash frozen to retain all the nutritional benefits, plus frozen fruit adds that icy quality to smoothies without watering them down).
Where to buy cherries? I love the Whole Foods 365 Everyday frozen Organic Dark Sweet Cherries–they're delicious, organic, already pitted, and much more affordable than some of the other brands on the market. Though, be forewarned, the last time I bought a bag, the price was $4.29 and cherries are notoriously expensive.
I also think sweet cherries work best in this recipe, as the tart cherries are a bit too sour. But if that's all you can find, tart cherries will absolutely work here, too. And you may just want to add some dates do your smoothie to sweeten it up if it's too tart.
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Alright, on that note, I'm going to leave you with the recipe for this delicious chocolate cherry smoothie. If you surprise your Valentine with a glass, let me know–share a pic on social media and tag @rootandrevel / #rootandrevel so I can see 🙂
Chocolate Cherry Green Smoothie
- Combine all ingredients into a large, high-powered blender (I recommend Vitamix) and blend until smooth and creamy.
- Serve and enjoy!
*Note: Nutrition panel does not include collagen protein.
Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser
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