Whether you need a chocolate fix, or a great dinner party dessert, this chocolate smoothie bowl is a winner. To really deliver on flavor, I partnered with my friends at Mountain Rose Herbs because their cacao powder is the BEST. Now, what's the difference between cacao powder vs cocoa powder? Let's find out!
Cacao vs Cocoa
Let me start by saying always read your labels. ALWAYS. The main difference between cacao and cocoa in the grocery store is often the additives added to cocoa powder (sugar, gums, etc). Cacao powder often looks like the healthier option, because companies market it as such. So no matter which one you buy, make sure it only has 1 ingredient in it.
Now, there is a lot of debate on using the term cacao vs cocoa, and most of it comes from how cacao seeds are processed. Experts often refer to the pod of this seed as cacao, and then the powder left after the bean has been processed as cocoa. Companies aren't consistent on this distinction, so that's why reading labels is important. For this chocolate smoothie bowl, I use Mountain Rose Herbs Roasted Cacao Powder, because it is super clean and also produces the best taste.
How is cacao (or cocoa) powder made?
Cacao powder goes through a 7 day process of fermenting, drying, roasting, milling, pressing, and then conching seeds from Theobroma cacao trees. The quality of the powder comes from not only the quality of the seeds, but also from the science used during the process of extracting the cacao.
When buying cacao, look for a brand that you can trust to be high quality. I look for Certified Fair Trade, because this means that cacao farmers are paid a fair wage for their crop. Certified Organic cacao is also preferable.
Is chocolate actually good for you?
The short answer is yes! Natural cacao powder without added ingredients contains phytonutrients with antioxidant, antiradical, and anticarcinogenic properties. Using this powder in its raw form provides the most health benefits, as well as overall cleaner ingredients; so don't be afraid to add some to your next smoothie, or just indulge in this chocolate smoothie bowl!
Types of cacao powder for a chocolate smoothie bowl
Cacao powder comes in a variety of forms: left raw, further processed, heated, or sometimes treated with alkaline. There are several types and grades of cocoa powder; below are the names you might see in your grocery store of choice:
Raw cacao- (the traditional process described above) made from cold pressing the un-roasted beans (or nibs) which removes the cacao butter.
Dutch-processed cocoa powder- darker in color and processed with an alkalinized solution to decrease acidity and produce a richer flavor. This process is done at high heat, which also most likely results in a loss of some antioxidants.
Natural cocoa powder is lighter in color and higher in acidity, but has still been roasted.
The different cacao and cocoa powders aren't always interchangeable in baking, but for this chocolate smoothie bowl, any of the above kinds can be used. I personally reach for Mountain Rose Herbs Cacao Roasted Powder for this chocolate smoothie bowl and beyond. It is Certified Organic, Fair Trade for Life, Kosher, as well as very high quality. You can actually taste the difference.
Chocolate smoothie bowl recipe
At Simple Green Smoothies we strive to eat mostly plants, and eat them inside healthy meals, yet balance is necessary. This chocolate smoothie bowl is loaded up with healthy fats, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals and tastes like chocolate mousse, yet probably doesn't count as a healthy meal. Don't let the fat content scare you, I promise the healthy fats from the coconut milk and avocado are not your average dessert kind of fats. Healthy unsaturated fats play a big role in helping your body better absorb and use certain vitamins like A, D, E, and K, as well as beta carotene and lycopene. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for nervous system, brain, and heart health and function.
Our friends at Mountain Rose Herbs sent us some of their Certified Organic Cacao Roasted Powder. It makes all the difference in this chocolate smoothie bowl. In addition to the avocado, coconut milk and cacao powder, I've added a little natural sweetener, vanilla, and a pinch of sea salt to round things out.
Make this smoothie bowl either a blender or food processor. Because it is so thick and creamy, it can be a little harder to scrape it out of a blender jar. If you use cold coconut milk and frozen avocados, the texture ends up being like soft serve ice cream...and what could be wrong about that?
To add some extra texture and natural sweetness, serve with fresh berries. I like to garnish with cacao nibs. They add a crunchy + nutty feel with a deep chocolate flavor (plus, they are my fav smoothie bowl topping!).
Chocolate smoothie recipes
Now that you know just how to buy cacao powder, let's put it to good use! I've got several chocolate-y smoothie recipes that can be used as dessert, a post workout protein boost, a fun date-night snack, you name it!
- Peanut butter chocolate smoothie
- Chocolate strawberry smoothie
- Banana chocolate smoothie
- Chocolate protein shake
- Chocolate covered cherry smoothie
I may not be a choco-holic, yet even I need a chocolate fix every now and then. These smoothies are the perfect mash up of delicious and nutritious.
Plant based dessert recipes
Looking for more plant powered dessert recipes to satisfy your sweet tooth? I've got you covered!
- Cinnamon Date Smoothie
- Ginger cookies with chocolate chips
- Zucchini bread
- Rice Krispie treats
- Vegan chocolate chip cookies
- Caramel apple dip
- Fudgy brownies
- Berry banana split sundae
- Vegan strawberry milkshake
- Blackberry coconut sorbet
Whether you make the below recipe for a crowd, or for a solo movie night, I'd love to know how it turned out for you! Your recipe ratings + reviews shape the content I create. So let me know if you scraped your chocolate smoothie bowl clean!
Chocolate Smoothie BowlRate this Recipe Print Recipe
- 1 can coconut milk (divided)
- 1 avocado (quartered and frozen)
- ¼ cup cacao powder
- 2 tablespoon maple syrup (to taste)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- pinch sea salt
- cacao nibs
- Shake the coconut milk well.
- Remove and set aside 2 tablespoons of the coconut milk to use for the topping.
- Place remainder in blender or food processor with frozen avocado, cacao powder, maple syrup (or sweetener of choice), vanilla, and pinch sea salt.
- Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides, as needed. (Depending on the blender, you may need to tamp down the ingredients as well.) The texture will be like something between ice cream and pudding.
- Divide the smoothie into two bowls and top with berries.
- Drizzle with reserved coconut milk.
- Sprinkle with toppings and serve immediately.
- If needed, 2 medium bananas can be substituted for the avocado.
- You can omit or decrease maple syrup as well.