As promised, today I am sharing one of my current favorite recipes… a delicious creamy chocolate shake that also happens to be very healthy… to balance out the last carb-laden post. My sister and brother-in-law recently accomplished some amazing health goals by adopting a low carb lifestyle, and I was duly inspired to do a homemade version of the Take Shape for Life diet (spoiler alert: it’s working). This shake is a big part of why I am losing weight… low calories and low carbs, lots of nutrition, and it is actually delicious and substantial! Before we get to the recipe though, here are a few tidbits that might be of interest:
COCOA POWDER: It’s a real challenge to make anything chocolaty without cocoa. My favorite cocoa powder… a high-quality, popular cocoa that fits into our limited grocery budget… is Rodelle. I buy it in big canisters at Costco when they have it, typically leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas season. I ran out in April last year and had to wait till November to get more, so as a precaution I bought 4 canisters to get me through the year. So far, so good. I make most of the brownies/cakes/cookies/shakes/etc my family eats from scratch so we do go through it. Here is the product you’re looking for on Amazon (currently $18!! what?!), but it was just $7 for the very same quantity at Costco this past season so it’s worth stocking up when you can. For that price, it is really no more expensive than anything generic in your local grocery store. Fun fact: Just 2 tablespoons of cocoa has 16% of your recommended daily value of fiber and 30% DV of iron. It’s tasty stuff, and healthy.
AVOCADO: I learned in the past year (thank you Pinterest) that avocados freeze really well. Their high fat content makes them ideal for this. So when my local stores put them on sale for anything less than $0.50 per, I stock up. When each one is perfectly ripe, I peel and seed it, chop it into eighths, and freeze it on a cookie sheet. I store the chucks in a ziplock and pull them out as needed for smoothies, shakes or guacamole (not quite as good as fresh, but certainly better than no guac!). Avocados are also high in potassium, fiber and have a bit of protein to boot. They make this shake incredibly creamy and are truly honestly not noticeable in terms of tasting it in the shake. They are the secret ingredient!! My 3 yr old loves to steal some sips, and even my deeply-entrenched standard American diet husband admits he enjoys it “but I get the impression it might be healthy”… touché, Sherlock.
COLLAGEN HYDROLYSATE: I purchased mine via Amazon, the brand is Great Lakes Gelatin - the kind in the green canister. It is a flavorless white power which will dissolve even in cold liquids. I know you probably don’t have this sitting around, but I am currently using it daily to (hopefully) help revitalize my poor, aching, mother-of-four, used and abused sacroiliac joints. Collagen hydrolysate is a protein precursor to gelatin… another substance getting a lot of health food press lately. It is procured from grassfed beef hides (yum?) and research has been done indicating it may have a wide variety of uses in treating everything from joint pain to osteoporosis to ulcers and leaky gut. Also beneficial for radiant skin, strong nails and vibrant, healthy hair. I understand that it has much the same health benefits as any bone broth or other whole-animal type foods… you’re getting all the good stuff our standard American diet leaves out. After less than a month of daily use, I am not ready to claim that it has fixed my back pain problem, but it IS a sneaky way to add some flavorless protein to a shake. You could sub a typical protein powder instead, or leave it out altogether.
Pro tip: I regularly add a scoop or half-scoop of unflavored whey isolate powder to this shake (I like Mike’s Mix for value and taste) if I need more protein at the end of a day to meet my RDA but I am craving a treat. FYI, 1 scoop of Mike’s Mix has 114 calories and 40% of your daily protein needs, and currently costs just $0.72 per serving… almost identical in cost and nutrition to a 4 oz chicken breast at $3.00/lb… but a LOT easier to put in a smoothie ;) It’s not crazy expensive like some other specialty “health foods” when you consider how it will be used. I use almond milk (from Aldi) in my shakes because I am losing the battle with lactose. Whey protein powder contains only trace amounts of lactose, and so is still a great choice for the lactose intolerant like me. I can’t speak knowledgeably about non-dairy protein powders, but it would be easy to find one if you are of the dairy-free persuasion but still want to bulk up your shake.
So… after all that blathering on, here’s the recipe:
Healthy Chocolate Breakfast Shake
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup ice cubes
1/2 average size avocado, frozen in chunks
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 rounded tbsp Great Lakes Gelatin collagen hydrolysate (green container)
Splenda* or sweetener of your choice
Add wet ingredients to blender (I love my Nutribullet for anything like this). Mix dry ingredients together first (prevents clumping), then add to wet ingredients and mix until very smooth. Enjoy your shake!
If low carb and dairy-free isn’t such a priority, adding some malted milk powder turns this into a delicious and healthy chocolate malt!
Try adding some other flavorings like peppermint extract, coconut cream, nutella, or espresso powder. This shake lends itself well to a wide assortment of flavor accompaniments, so give it a whirl (pun intended).
Nutrition (as written, using 1 tbsp granular Splenda, calculated using myfitnesspal):
This very filling 24+ ounce shake only contains 245 calories, and 6 grams of net carbs!
*I realize that many people are anti-artificial sweeteners, and are probably incensed that I would suggest they might *gasp* be part of a healthy recipe. I have decided to use them at this stage of my life. That is my decision for my own health. Please feel free to make a different decision that suits your requirements, but please don’t leave comments about it here… that’s just not the point of this post. Thanks.*
**This post contains affiliate links to products that I use and have purchased with my own cash, but only the ones I would actually recommend. If you happen to follow a link and also happen to make a purchase, a small percentage of that will come back to me and, for the sake of full disclosure, I will promptly use it to buy fabric or fund a home improvement project. Do with that knowledge what you will ;)**