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Who doesn’t want to start their day off with chocolate?
And let me tell you, this smoothie tastes rich. Nothing light about it. Well, except in the nutrition facts department.
So many smoothies are high in sugar, thanks to the addition of fruit juice, that they’re more of a dessert than a healthy breakfast or snack.
But not this one.
And yes, I said cacao, not cocoa. So, what’s the difference?
Let’s start with what makes them similar. Both start out as beans from the cacao plant. These beans are then milled and processed. And that’s where their paths diverge.
For cacao powder, the beans are processed at a low temperature and then milled into a fine powder. Because the heat that’s applied in processing is minimal, cacao powder retains many of the nutrients found in raw cacao beans, and it has a strong bitter flavor.
Cocoa powder, a staple in many households, is made by fermenting and roasting the beans at a high temperature. They’re also alkalized to reduced acidity, resulting in a powder that’s still bitter, but less so than cacao powder.
Nutritionally speaking, both have just 1 gram of sugar per tablespoon, but cacao powder is significantly richer in minerals.
Specifically, cacao powder is a good source of iron, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
While you can likely find it at your local health food store, buying it online is always a good way to go, and may even be cheaper.
Viva Naturals Organic Cacao Powder, available on Amazon
Now onto the second key ingredient: kefir.
Have you ever had drinkable yogurt? Well, kefir is similar.
A cultured, fermented drink, kefir is a creamy, tart beverage that contains a good amount of protein, calcium, potassium, and B-vitamins. Together, these nutrients can help with bone, muscle, and heart health.
But what makes kefir so special? It’s also a rich source of beneficial bacteria known as probiotics.
While we’re still learning exactly how probiotics affect our wellbeing, some of the more studied benefits include improving gut health (such as relieving symptoms of IBS and IBD), helping with anxiety and stress, reducing LDL cholesterol, and boosting the immune system.
Next, to sweeten this smoothie up a bit, we’re enlisting the help of honey and a banana.
While still a source of sugar, honey does have the added benefit of being rich in antioxidants. Plus, depending on the flowers used to make it, local honey can add lovely floral notes to your smoothie.
And a little sweetness helps to balance the bitter qualities of the cocoa, making it the perfect smoothie to serve your family members something healthy without getting caught!
Finally, bananas. High in potassium and fiber, adding them to your smoothie is a nutritious way to add extra sweetness.
Plus, if you freeze the banana beforehand, you’ll end up with a super creamy smoothie, worthy of enjoying as a dessert, whether in a chocolate based beverage like this one or in a seductively luscious green smoothie.
If you haven’t tried adding a frozen banana to your smoothies yet, do yourself a favor and throw one in the freezer right now!
So, what are you waiting for? Break out the blender and whip up a nutrient-packed, smoothie with a rich, dark chocolate taste!Print
Perfect for breakfast or a light dessert, this naturally sweetened, gut-healthy chocolate kefir smoothie is as creamy as it is nutritious.
- 2 cups plain kefir
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
- 1 ripe banana, preferably frozen
- Place ingredients in a high-powered blender in the order listed above, with the liquid ingredients added first, followed by the powder, and finally the more solid and frozen items. If your blender does not have the blades at the bottom, reverse the order so the frozen banana will be furthest from the blades.
- Blend until smooth.
- Pour into two glasses and enjoy!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Category: Smoothie
- Method: Blender
- Cuisine: Beverage
Keywords: kefir, cacao powder, banana, honey
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Measure Ingredients
Measure out your ingredients. For a creamier smoothie, use a frozen banana.
If you don’t have cacao powder, you can substitute in cocoa powder instead; however, you may need to add more cocoa powder, as it doesn’t have as strong of a taste as cacao.
Maple syrup can be substituted for the honey if you prefer.
Step 2 – Blend and Serve
Place all of ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend until smooth.
Pour into two glasses and enjoy!
Note: be sure to check out our post on 7 Tips to Make Better Smoothies to really up your smoothie game.
Sweeten It Up
Despite having a deep chocolate color, this smoothie is not overly sweet. If you want to turn it into more of a dessert, you can sweeten it up even more by adding an extra banana (preferably frozen) and another one to two teaspoons of honey or maple syrup.
Looking for more ways to put your blender to use? Check out some of our other favorite smoothie recipes on Foodal:
What’s your favorite smoothie combination from our collection of healthy drinks? Share in the comments below, and don’t forget to give this gut-healthy recipe a rating before you go!
Photos by Kelli McGrane, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on July 13, 2012. Last updated on January 17, 2020.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
The written contents of this article have been reviewed and verified by a registered dietitian for informational purposes only. This article should not be construed as personalized or professional medical advice. Foodal and Ask the Experts, LLC assume no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet, or using supplements or manufactured or natural medications.
About Kelli McGrane, MS, RD
Kelli McGrane is a Denver-based registered dietitian with a lifelong love of food. She holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in nutrition science from Boston University. As a registered dietitian, she believes in the importance of food to nourish not only your body, but your soul as well. Nutrition is very personal, and you won’t find any food rules here, other than to simply enjoy what you eat.