We’ve partnered with our friends at Mountain Rose Herbs to bring you this Cacao Dessert Smoothie Bowl recipe. Thank you for supporting our sponsors!
At Simple Green Smoothies we try to eat healthy as often as possible, but we recognize that it’s important to not go overboard and be too strict. That’s when a healthy diet starts to feel more like a chore than a way of life. One of the best things is when you can have your dessert and it’s healthy too – and that’s the case with this Cacao Dessert Smoothie Bowl. It’s loaded up with healthy fats, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals and tastes like chocolate mousse!
Our friends at Mountain Rose Herbs sent us some of their Certified Organic Cacao Roasted Powder (click here to check it out). It was destined for a dessert smoothie. There are so many reasons to love cacao (or cocoa) and we have a few more reasons to add to the list.
All chocolate starts with the fruit of the cacao tree, Theobroma Cacao. These trees only grow in warm, tropical climates. The fruit the trees bear are called “pods.” The pods are about the size of a large sweet potato and filled with numerous beans that are covered in a thick, white, sticky substance – very different than what the final product looks like!
To get from the sticky, white beans to the rich, brown chocolate we know and love, they have to go through several processes including fermenting, drying, and grinding.
The whole cacao beans (pictured above) have been dried and the sticky part is now gone. Inside the papery skin are the nibs. The beans and nibs contain all of the fat, fiber, and nutrients. When the papery skins are removed and the nibs are ground, it yields a paste (also called a cocoa mass) that contains cacao butter, a buttery white fat, as well as the cacao solids. If the cacao butter is removed, what remains is the cacao powder. To make chocolate, sugar and flavorings are added to the cacao mass. It is further ground until creamy and smooth, then molded.
Cacao powder is either left raw or it is further processed, heated, and sometimes treated with alkaline to create cocoa powder. There are several types and grades of cocoa powder; extra dark, Dutch-processed, and natural are all names you’ll see on package labels.
Raw cacao is the powder described above made from cold pressing the unroasted beans (or nibs) which removes the cacao butter.
Dutch-processed cocoa powder is darker in color and is processed with an alkalinized solution which is supposed to decrease acidity and produce a richer flavor. This process is done at high heat which most likely results in a loss of 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 our purposes any of them can be used for smoothies, hot chocolate, etc. We like to reach for Mountain Rose Herbs Cacao Roasted Powder because it is Certified Organic, Fair Trade for Life, Kosher, and is very high quality. You can taste the difference.
Nutrients and Health Benefits of Cacao Powder
Cacao (and cocoa too) are rich in iron and magnesium as well as potassium, calcium, zinc, copper, and manganese. Cacao also contains caffeine, which can provide a natural energy boost. Consuming cacao provides positive effects from the antioxidants, including mood-boosting, preserving cognitive abilities, protecting the heart and lowering blood pressure, and help with blood sugar regulation.
What to Look for When Buying Cacao
When buying cacao, look for a brand that you can trust to be high quality, preferably Certified Fair Trade meaning that cacao farmers are paid a fair wage for their crop. Certified Organic cacao is also preferable.
The Importance of Healthy Fats in Your Diet
Before you gasp and click away because this dessert smoothie includes both full-fat coconut milk and avocado, let me put your mind at ease. Fat was the enemy for a long time, but not anymore! It turns out that a diet rich in healthy fats is essential for good health. 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.
Fat sends signals to our brain that we are satiated when we eat. If we are eating a diet rich in healthy fats, fiber, and whole foods rather than one filled with processed, chemical-laden foods full of sugar and trans fats, you’re giving your body what it needs.
In addition to the avocado, coconut milk and cacao powder, we’ve added a little natural sweetener, vanilla, and a pinch of sea salt to round things out. We prefer natural sweeteners whenever possible. This recipe calls for pure maple syrup, but feel free to use another natural sweetener or even a natural zero calorie sweetener like stevia or monk fruit, depending on your diet, needs, and preference.
This dessert smoothie can be made in 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 are crunchy and nutty with a deep chocolate flavor and one of my favorite smoothie bowl toppings.
Cheers to your good health!Print
Cacao adds rich chocolate flavor as well as a big boost of iron and other vitamins and minerals coupled with healthy fats.
- 14 ounce can full-fat coconut milk or cream (divided)
- 1 large avocado (quartered and frozen)
- 1/4 cup Certified Organic Cacao Powder
- 2–4 tablespoons pure maple syrup (or sweetener of choice, to taste)
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- Pinch sea salt
- sliced strawberries, raspberries, cacao nibs (for serving)
- 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 scrap 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 cacao nibs.
- Serve immediately.
- If needed, 2 medium bananas can be substituted for the avocado. Omit or decrease maple syrup as well.