Do you ever hanker for a sweet fix, but don’t want something with refined sugar, flour, and preservatives that is going to make your insulin spike like there’s no tomorrow?
Do you want a ketogenic-friendly dessert that is loaded with nutrients and satiates both the belly & the mind?
Then try my Almond Butter Dark Chocolate Kale Smoothie!
Now there’s a time for juices and then there’s a time for smoothies. (Please read my article Smoothies vs Juices for a better analysis of which is best.). Sure, it is undeniable that a green smoothie and/or regular berry banana smoothies certainly should have a place in your healthy lifestyle regiment. But sometimes you just need something sweet.
The best smoothie recipe will have a perfect ratio of the macronutrients (fat, protein, and carbohydrates) and not boast too much unnecessary sugars. Your goal is for your smoothie to have as many superfoods in it as possible. If done properly it could be a stand-alone nutrient-dense meal beating out any meal from a typical fast food restaurant.
Before we cover the ideal Almond Butter Dark Chocolate Kale Smoothie let’s cover the fundamentals that should be in all smoothies.
(Try our Greek yogurt bowl recipe, so good your kids will beg for it.)
Using a liquid that is not water or ice will provide more flavor to your smoothie. Many people will use milk. If you use it, opt for whole milk since it will taste better and be satiating. Some will choose not go with dairy due to their aversion to lactose and casein, which some studies show are inflammatory and hypoallergenic due to the body, as well as the antibiotics and growth hormones (rBST and rBGH) given to most cows in America. Incidentally, another option is goat’s milk, which is lower in lactose and casein than cow’s milk.
My non-dairy “milk” of choice would be coconut milk given its high nutrient and fat content. I am not a big fan of almond milk given that the small amount of almonds and large number of preservatives in each carton. Soy milk is problematic given that most of it produced in America is GMO and large amounts of soy are estrogenic, disrupting your natural balance of estrogen in the body. Rice milk is low in nutrients and high in carbs.
Putting Greek yogurt in your smoothie adds protein, fat and lusciousness. Ideally choose full fat yogurt and organic to avoid the toxins found in conventional dairy. Make sure you use Greek yogurt, and not regular, to get a healthy dose of probiotic bacteria. Try to avoid flavored varieties due to the added sugar and frankly, you won’t need it since your smoothie will be sweet enough if done properly. The yogurt will also make your smoothie frothier!
(Read our article on secretly sugar-laden superfoods.)
There are many forms of dark chocolate you can use. I personally would use 85-90% unflavored dark chocolate, either in the form of a baking bar or chocolate chips. An alternative would be cocoa nibs or cocoa powder, but I would opt for the nibs, bar, or chips since they would bring a nice texture to it. I don’t recommend flavored chocolate due to its high sugar content.
As with the our almond butter cup recipes, I recommend cashew, almond, or other higher-end nuts over peanuts due the former’s higher nutrient yield and the latter’s hypoallergenic problems. If you must use peanut butter, choose Jiffy Natural or other brands that don’t use partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, which is a hidden transfat. Lastly, opt for unflavored almond butter to minimize sugar intake.
What almond butter dark chocolate kale smoothie would do without a banana? It is the ideal complement! Use an unripened banana for flavor and for its high levels of potassium. Green bananas have ¼ of the sugar of a ripe one and are resistant starch. Resistant starch foods are a form of prebiotics, which naturally grow probiotic, or beneficial, gut bacteria.
(Read this article on the importance of probiotics.}
Adding a vegetable is not necessary, but it brings added nutrients. Consider throwing in the super nutrient-dense cruciferous vegetables like kale since they don’t bring any flavor and it will bring a slightly visually-appealing greenish tinge to your savory smoothie.
Throw in cinnamon, a natural sweetener and protector of heart health; chia seeds, a great supplier of fiber and healthy “omega” fats; and some vanilla extract to add subtle sweetness.
(Try our delectable, scrumptious blueberry banana smoothie recipe.)
- 1 1/2 cups of unflavored Coconut Milk (for sweetness, opt for flavored variety)
- ½ cup of full-fat unflavored Greek yogurt
- 3 tablespoons of almond or cashew butter
- 1/2 cup of 90% dark chocolate chips or equivalent in bar. Cocoa nibs are even better.
- Handful full of cruciferous vegetable (spinach or kale)
- 1 unripened banana
- Heavy dash of cinnamon
- 1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 2 Tablespoons of chia seeds
- 1 Teaspoon of organic honey (optional but honestly not needed)
Make sure you blend it up well to avoid clumps of dark chocolate residing on the bottom. Enjoy!
In full candor, I lean toward the berry-banana smoothies more than this one. But I love mixing it up on occasion and going with something sweet and chocolaty. And it is certainly healthier than any chocolate shake or ice cream.
I would love to hear from you about your favorite and best smoothie recipes, chocolate-almond buttery or otherwise!
A. Gregory Luna, double-certified health coach.