I LOVE this shake–although you can call it a smoothie if you prefer.
Initially, I was not a believer. My friend Anita gets all the credit for showing me the wisdom of adding a trifecta of wholesome ingredients to a smoothie. The healthy trio enhances the flavor and texture of nearly any smoothie and moves it from a tasty fruit-filled concoction to a drink that can truly be a meal.
The ingredients? Avocado, almond butter, and flaxseed meal.
The conversation began at a yoga class. Anita was already having “one of those mornings,” but it reached new heights when she spilled her sizable smoothie squarely between the front seats of her car.
I know…what a mess. The sheer bummer of it all was further compounded, she said, because she had only taken a few sips of the really good smoothie–and it was breakfast!
But back to the crazy ingredients. When Anita first told me about her favorite combination, I was skeptical. Yet Anita knows her way around the kitchen, so I gamely tried it that very afternoon. She was soooo right!
Even though we all want to eat healthy, if a recipe looks, well, too healthy, it’s easy to think it couldn’t possibly taste good. Sometimes, I hold back on those recipes for fear that my readers might click right by, but after slicing my 100th avocado to blend into this creamy, chocolatey shake, I figured it was time to share. (For the record, I really haven’t counted how many times I’ve made this…but it’s a lot.😊)
Yields: 1 (16-ounce) serving or 2 (8-ounce) servings
- 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice--I've been enjoying an almond-coconut blend lately)
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1/2 tablespoon flaxseed meal (I use Bob's Red Mill's whole ground flaxseed meal )
- 2 tablespoons almond butter
- 2 large dates, pitted* (I use Medjool dates; use 3 if using a smaller variety)
- 1/2 an avocado**
- 1/2 cup ice cubes (about 8-10 cubes)
- 1 very ripe banana, frozen and broken or sliced into chunks
- Optional but recommended: 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and a pinch (1/16 teaspoon) of sea or kosher salt
- Pulse all of the ingredients a few times in a blender to get them started, and then blend until very smooth. Once the mixture is well blended, I like to give it about 30 seconds at the highest speed to make it really creamy.
- Pour into one or two glasses and enjoy. You can hold the smoothie for a little while in the fridge before the ice begins to melt. Sometimes, I'll put mine in the freezer for about 20 minutes to make it a little more of a frozen treat. (Just don't forget about it. Set a timer, just in case!)
- *I find that dates can take a little longer to pulverize if they are a little dried out or if the blender isn't a high-powered model. In this case, you may wish to chop them into small pieces or soak the whole (pitted) dates for 15 minutes in warm water, draining before using.
- **If my avocado is large, I usually use a third of it. This amount will provide plenty of creaminess (and Vitamin E), but will allow you to stretch your ingredients a little further. Simply slice a wedge from the avocado that is one-third of the whole, gently prying away from the pit. The pit remains with the other 2/3 of the avocado. TIP: Let the unused portion sit on the counter, uncovered, for about 15-20 minutes, and then place a piece of plastic wrap directly over all areas of exposed flesh, and refrigerate 2-3 days for another smoothie, a salad, chili topper, etc. The exposure to the air creates a thin "skin" over the surface of the avocado and adds an extra layer of protection from excessive browning. It's the best trick I've found so far!
- I add the milk, followed by the cocoa powder and flax meal, before piling in the remaining ingredients. This way, the dry ingredients are less likely to poof up and stick to the sides and top of the blender when it’s switched on.
- You could swap out the dates for a tablespoon of honey or maple syrup, but the dates add extra nutrients along with delightful natural sweetness. For those who enjoy the chocolate-peanut butter combination (who doesn’t?!), you could use peanut butter in place of the almond butter. The almond butter, however, carries a milder flavor and will allow the chocolate flavor to be more pronounced. It’s my personal favorite in this smoothie.
Flaxseed meal is one the many super foods packed into this creamy shake. Flax is touted for all sorts of beneficial components but really earns its healthy reputation thanks to three of them: omega-3 essential fatty acids, lignans and fiber. For those interested in reading more about the specific benefits, I uncovered a brief write-up in the process of my work with Bob’s Red Mill. To read the details, click here…and cheers to good health!