We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And yes, it IS important. When I was working as an outpatient diet, it was more common for my clients to skip breakfast than to eat it. When I would ask why they didn’t eat breakfast, lack of time was a very common response. And it’s definitely a valid point. Mornings are often rushed, and it’s unlikely we’re going to skip any of our other morning routine steps before heading to work (shower? getting dressed? brushing teeth? I don’t think so) when we’re running out of time. This is where smoothies can come into play.
As long as you have the ingredients ready, smoothies are super quick to make, and you can drink them on the go. Some smoothies (especially the ones you can buy) are less than healthy. They might be loaded with fat and/or sugar and very likely high in calories. Empty calories. That means lots of calories, but not much of the good for you stuff (like vitamins, fiber and protein). Plus, those smoothies you can buy are expensive.
The ingredients in this delicious chocolate cherry smoothie are pretty standard for a healthy smoothie. Frozen cherries (I got mine in a large bag – for what I thought was pretty inexpensive for cherries – from Costco), cocoa powder, Greek yogurt, ground flaxseeds, kale (you can use spinach instead) and kefir.
Wait, what the heck is kefir? It’s a fermented milk product that originated in Eastern Europe. The easiest way to describe it is as being like drinkable yogurt. Just like yogurt, it’s low in lactose and high in probiotics (those good bacteria that can help your digestive tract among other things). However, it is made in a slightly different way than yogurt, so it may be slightly carbonated and a teeny tiny bit alcoholic (it uses yeast to be fermented, just like beer).
Where I live, in Wisconsin, kefir is almost as widely available as yogurt. It is found in bottles near the yogurt, in almost any flavor that you might want. However, I doubt it is made in the traditional way, since it doesn’t seem to be carbonated at all. Where I used to live, in Edmonton, it was hard to find kefir. Some stores had it in the natural foods section. Those ones definitely had carbonation to them – they tasted almost like milky beer. Anyway, if you can’t find kefir, just use milk instead.
Once you have gathered all your ingredients, all you do is toss them in a blender and blend until smooth. You can also do it with an immersion blender, which is what I use, if you’re just making a single serving. Just make sure that you don’t put the cocoa at the bottom, or it will get stuck there and won’t blend. Once it’s all blended up, you just taste the chocolate and cherries. You won’t even notice the kale. I promise.
If you know you’re going to be short on time in the morning, you could pre-measure your ingredients and keep them in the fridge. Just take the cherries out of the freezer in the morning and blend it all up. Then pour it into a to-go up and sip all the way to work.
I call this particular smoothie heart healthy because of all the nutrients it has – antioxidants from the cherries and cocoa, omega 3 fats from the flaxseed, calcium from the kefir (or milk) and yogurt and fiber from the cherries, kale and flaxseed. All of these things can have benefits on cholesterol and/or blood pressure, thus can be termed heart healthy.
- 1 cup frozen cherries
- 1/2 cup chopped kale stalks removed and torn up
- 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 Tbsp ground flax seeds
- 1/2 cup fat free vanilla Greek yogurt
- 3/4 cup plain or vanilla kefir
- sweetener of your choice to taste
Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend on high power until smooth.
The calories in the smoothie are not quite enough make a complete meal for most people, so have it with something else, like maybe a small low fat muffin, slice of whole grain toast or granola bar. The calories are also a bit too high to be considered a snack for the majority of people. If you are going to use it as a snack, have a half portion.
For more chocolate cherry love, check out this chocolate cherry cake. This one’s not heart healthy though…