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I'll keep this introduction brief, because when I find a recipe on someone's blog via Google I don't want to read through their entire narrative, I just want the recipe.
As I said in that Instagram post on Tuesday of last week, I craved a warm smoothie after a snowy dog walk. I usually cringe at the idea of a “smoothie bowl”. It's a trend that I don't understand. Why put a smoothie in a bowl when you can drink it from a nice glass and a glass straw, like the ones from Strawesome? (I own around 4.) I prefer my smoothies more liquid than thick. I don't want to eat smoothies with a spoon. That's like soup.
And yet, rather than a regular hot chocolate smoothie, I wanted to try something new and be adventurous. I also wanted to use “superfood powders” that I've had in my cupboard for years, because I don't use them anymore and don't want to throw them out. For many years I was a hoarder of superfood powders. Now I'm over it.
(If you subscribe to my newsletter you might get a free ebook called, “5 Superfoods That You Might Already Have in Your Kitchen” and if you don't, email me. I'm working on updating the book with updated links and don't know if it's automatically sending with newsletter subscription confirmations anymore. Updates to the book and such are on my to do list.)
Brief explanations about the superfoods used follows the recipe.
Two days after making the first hot chocolate smoothie bowl I made another one that was even better because I included the ingredients that I'd forgotten in the first round.
No one from Genuine Health knows I'm posting this. They haven't sponsored it. I'm not being obsequious. I haven't been to a GH promotional event in a long time. However, it was around this time last year that I was introduced to Greens + Extra Energy (as I posted one year ago yesterday- with my introduction to fermented Greek yogurt proteins+ being five months later). This recipe finally killed my big container of greens.
Something cool about this recipe which I discovered after (as you'll read below): It contains many mood-boosting ingredients! I could call it “The Anti-Anxiety Hot Chocolate Almond Smoothie” or “The Mood-Boosting Hot Chocolate Almond Smoothie” or, if you consume it in its “after” stage, “Mood-Boosting Chocolate Almond Smoothie Bites”.
As a smoothie, it will be thin liquid at first but with the gelatin, it will thicken as it cools and no longer be “hot chocolate”. (More on that below the recipe.) If you want it thicker, add the suggested oats.
Yield: 1 serving
It's gluten-free, sugar free and can be made with or without dairy.
Hot Chocolate Almond Smoothie
(A prettier, printable version with less detail follows.)
1 C milk of your choice (dairy, almond, rice, etc.)
2 Tbsp raw cacao or cocoa powder (I like the Organic Traditions brand)
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp grass fed gelatin powder (I use the one by Great Lakes)
1/2 Tsp vanilla powder (also Organic Traditions) or a drop of vanilla extract.
Optional: 1/4 C rolled oats
Banana (definitely), cocoa nibs, hemp seeds – if you want/have.
Add the gelatin powder to your measuring cup where you pour the milk. Stir and let sit for one minute. It will be smooth.
In a small pot, combine milk-gelatin powder mixture with chocolate powder, coconut oil, vanilla, and oats (if using). Whisk as you bring it to a boil.
Transfer to a blender (I use a Vitamix) and add the almond butter, protein powder, chaga mushroom, maca and slippery elm. Put the lid on tight. Blend until creamy and smooth.
Pour into a bowl and top with banana, hemp seeds and cocoa nibs, or pour it in a nice glass and drink it.
(Brands of hemp seeds I prefer are Manitoba Harvest and Ruth's Hemp. I'm not too brand loyal with cocoa nibs but am currently enjoying a big bag of Giddy YoYo.)
Instead of heating the milk/gelatin in a pot you could heat it in the microwave alone and then transfer it to a blender with the remaining ingredients and blend. I suspect that using a stick blender in the pot would work too instead of a whisk + blender.
Please don't go out and buy all of those powders, unless you want to, and unless you're going to use them again. Use what you've got. You can omit them all if you'd like. I recommend always having vanilla powder, cacao (obviously), coconut oil (my favourite head-to-toe oil) and almond butter around, but save your money and don't buy the rest just for this. I do always like to have the Collagen Hydrolysate on hand, but that's because I use it to make my own Bulletproof-inspired coffee.
Don't worry if you get globs of gelatin in the pot. The blender will break it up.
A brief description of the superfood powders used is located at the bottom of this post.
Put the bowl in the fridge (or transfer to a container). When you remove it, the gelatin will have transformed the smoothie from liquid to solid snack that's between a pudding and a Jello – a creamy Jello.
If you've ever made Jello or cooked with gelatin you know that it dissolves in hot water and sets to a gel when it cools. I wasn't thinking about that when I put my smoothie in the fridge. I knew it would thicken, and it certainly thickened as I ate (I eat slowly), but I didn't anticipate how thick it would be after refrigeration. How thick? It went from this:
To this… Ta da! I present to you Chocolate Almond Energy Pudding Bites:
Yes, I should choose a name and stick with it.
If you want a chocolate-almond butter pudding-like snack…
…make the recipe above, immediately put it into a container and chill.
I will use a 1/2 Tbsp of gelatin next time and report back.
If you use Greens+ Extra Energy, and you're affected by caffeine, don't consume later in the day. You could use another greens powder but I think that here, cappuccino flavour was key. I've had to remind myself not to sneak bites later in the day. It looks like dessert. The next time I make this I probably will omit the Extra Energy for this reason.
A cool observation:
On Monday morning my mental state was in rough shape. I was having an existential meltdown after finding an old journal/workbook that, upon reading some of it, upset me and made me question my life. After eating a few squares of this I felt so much better. It was like I'd taken an anti-depressant. It could be coincidence, but here's my theory:
Chocolate is mood-boosting. Cocoa boosts the brain neurotransmitter serotonin, which affects mood, anxiety and happiness. Further research lead me to a CNN article with this information: “According to a study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology in May 2013, those who drank a chocolate drink once daily (the equivalent of 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate) reported feeling calmer and more content than those who didn't.” Here's the study.
Some of the ingredients in the Greens+ Extra Energy are mood boosting/balancing. I went to have a look at the ingredients to check that theory and found a lot of mood-boosting ingredients in there, including:
Ginseng, a powerful adaptogen that helps your body cope with stress. A study published in Human psychopharmacology in August 2010 found that 200 milligrams of ginseng for eight days slowed the fall in mood. The 400 milligram dose improved calmness. This wouldn't have affected me after a few bites, but it's worth noting.
Rhodiola, another adaptogen, which I sometimes take as a supplement to help with depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder. Double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled studies have shown Rhodiola to significantly reduce symptoms in patients with mild to moderate depression
L-Tyrosine, an amino acid used to produce dopamine. Tyrosine improves mood and stress response and supports energy and motivation. According to WebMD, People take tyrosine for depression, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other issues.
A little bit of research told me that one banana contains up to 10 milligrams of neurotransmitter dopamine.
…Now, I'm not sure that small amount I ate would affect my mood, but there is an indication that it could have.
A brief explanation of the superfoods used
Chaga mushroom powder
Among chaga's potential heath benefits: Supports the immune system and balances it, has high antioxidant and antimicrobial activity, could help protect your cells
Maca is rich in vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. According to various studies, maca helps balance hormones in both women and men, is beneficial for libido (female and male) and fertility. Black maca has positive effects on sperm production. In addition to that, and related to it, maca has a positive affect on mood (as does increased libido), energy and stamina. Yes, sexual stamina too. People call it the “sexy root”.
Slippery elm Slippery elm contains mucilage, a substance that becomes a slick gel when mixed with water. It coats and soothes mucous membranes in the mouth, throat, stomach, and intestines while also absorbing toxins that can cause intestinal imbalances. It soothes inflammation in the stomach and small intestine.
So, go on and make this mood boosting drink/pudding-like snack.
Tell me: What would YOU call the smoothie and the chilled version?