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A dessert bowl with a few unique ingredients that tastes like pudding?! Yes please. I love cacao powder and it shines in this decadent chocolate smoothie bowl. Top with coconut whipped cream and fresh berries for a truly delightful dessert.

chocolate smoothie bowl

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!

Table of Contents
  1. Cacao vs Cocoa
  2. Types of Cacao Powder
  3. Chocolate Smoothie Bowl Recipe
  4. More Chocolate Smoothie Recipes
  5. Chocolate Smoothie Bowl Recipe
chocolate smoothie bowl

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!

cacao vs cocoa, is there a difference?

Types of Cacao Powder

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.

ingredients for a cacao powder smoothie bowl

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.

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!).

Cacao vs Cocoa in this chocolate smoothie bowl

More 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!

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.

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!

4.93 from 13 votes

Chocolate Smoothie Bowl

Cacao adds rich chocolate flavor as well as a big boost of iron and other vitamins and minerals coupled with healthy fats to this chocolate smoothie bowl.
Prep: 5 minutes
Total: 5 minutes
Author: Jen Hansard
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Plant-Based, Vegan
Serves: 2


  • 1 can coconut milk divided
  • 1 avocado quartered and frozen
  • ¼ cup cacao powder
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup to taste
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • pinch sea salt

Topping Suggestions

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  • 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.
  • This is best enjoyed immediately yet will last in the fridge for up to 24 hours, just give it a good stir before serving.


Calories: 417kcal, Carbohydrates: 35g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 29g, Saturated Fat: 16g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 10g, Sodium: 171mg, Potassium: 706mg, Fiber: 10g, Sugar: 14g, Vitamin A: 147IU, Vitamin C: 10mg, Calcium: 48mg, Iron: 2mg
Tried this recipe? Show me!Mention @SimpleGreenSmoothies or tag #SimpleGreenSmoothies!

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  1. Hi, Jen!
    I can’t eat dairy. Is there something I can substitute for the coconut milk?

  2. 5 stars
    Wonderful recipe. Cacao nibs have many health benefits. Especially for diabetes control and do keep our heart healthy cacao nibs does a good job. I consume cacao nibs regularly as part my job. I work in Cocoa mantra, who is one of the Cacao nibs manufacturers in India. A request to the author and readers to visit us at

    Thank you
    Cocoa Mantra