Cravings. When they strike, they strike hard. Fortunately for me, my cravings of late have been for food that’s high in flavour and nutrition. Food that fuels me, but hits the high notes of taste. Like raspberry and chocolate, two big notes in the key of delicious.
It’s been a while since I’ve regularly made myself smoothies. Usually I have them for lunch, or sometimes for an afternoon pick-me-up. On those occasions when I’m working to a deadline in my editing business, sipping on one of these helps me power through the work.
Cacao powder and nibs are the least processed and most nutritionally rich form of chocolate, high in antioxidants and other nutrients. The main difference between cacao and cocoa is that cacao is raw, obtained by cold-pressing cocoa beans, whereas cocoa is created through roasting, which affects the nutritional value. Cacao is also more bitter than cocoa; I enjoy the complexity that its bitter edge adds (and it encourages sipping!). You could make this smoothie using cocoa powder and it will still be nutritious. If you’re interested in learning more about the differences and benefits of both cacao and cocoa, check out this article.
The raspberries are a key flavour element here because … well, because raspberries and chocolate. Need I say more? Fresh baby spinach adds green goodness (don’t worry, it’s disguised by the other flavours) and hemp and chia seeds add protein and lots of other goodness. The addition of both dates and maple syrup as sweeteners makes the bitter notes of the cacao more harmonious, and almond milk brings everything together. You can make your own, or for convenience use a good commercial brand. Just read the label and make sure you know what you’re getting. I don’t have a problem telling you that I used almond milk from the grocery store. I prefer my own, but I didn’t have any on hand and my craving couldn’t wait!
I hope you’ll give this smoothie a try. I mean, just look at those photos — doesn’t it look rich and luscious? I’m betting the first thing you think when you see it isn’t, “Wow, that looks super nutritious!” Can you imagine those grown-up, complex flavours? The chocolate is forward, and then there’s an undertone of raspberry’s bright and sweet tang. If bitter isn’t your thing, don’t worry: it’s pretty subdued here and worth a try. After all, this ain’t your hamburger joint’s chocolate milkshake!
Raspberry Cacao Smoothie
© Marlene Cornelis, Urban Cottage Life 2016
This indulgent yet nutritious smoothie makes one generous serving of two cups (500 ml), or two smaller servings if you’re willing to share.
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 cup baby spinach
- 1 tbsp hemp seeds
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tbsp cacao nibs
- 1 tbsp cacao powder
- 2 Medjool dates, pitted and torn
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 cup frozen raspberries
Place all ingredients in the jar of a powerful blender in the order listed. Process on high speed until smoothly blended. There will be a bit of crunch from the raspberry seeds and perhaps the odd bit of date, but otherwise all the ingredients will be harmonious. Drink while still cold.