I’m not sure what hit me this morning, but I wanted to take a stab at creating a smoothie with dark leafy greens in it. I’d be fine with my smoothie being green, but I was also providing this as breakfast for a picky eater that wouldn’t touch a green drink. The perfect solution? Use a dark, gorgeous fruit to cover up the green color- Wild blueberries being just the thing. Wild, rather than cultivated, blueberries are higher in antioxidants (which is a trend you will notice with pretty much any wild vs. cultivated food, like salmon. Cultivated foods have help to survive, while wild have to provide for themselves- they rely on antioxidants to survive just like we do!). Antioxidants are usually associated with richer or brighter colored foods, as the phenolic compounds that provide the antioxidant benefits are usually also the compounds that lend food its color. Brighter blue means less green from the spinach, so wild blueberries are just the thing! That’s not to say regular blueberries are not good for you, just that wild blueberries edge them out. In addition, wild blueberries undergo individual quick freezing, or IQF, which halts the ripening/spoiling process as soon as the berries are picked, preserving their nutritional benefits (see this post on frozen produce for more info)
I also was craving chocolate, so I decided a touch of Nutella and some cocoa powder would add a touch of sweetness and some extra antioxidants. I used milk as a base, in which I blended chia seeds into an undetectable liquid. Chia seeds are rich in soluble fiber (throw a teaspoon in a little bit of water and you can watch soluble fiber in action!). However, I wanted a thick smoothie, so I only used enough milk to blend the chia seeds; the rest of the base was comprised of a container of vanilla Greek yogurt (but to reduce sugar, you could use plain yogurt and a splash of vanilla extract). You could, of course, use dairy-free options if you’d like a vegan or lactose-free drink. I also added half a banana for bulk- this had to get two of us through a long morning- but it did add a banana flavor that some people might not like. As always, I finished it off with lots of ice, which is a personal preference, but I like the chill and the bulk it lends to smoothies.
This smoothie was richly colored, delicious, refreshing, and had exactly zero hint of spinach. One sip of this chocolately, fruity drink and you’d guess you were having dessert, not a full serving of fruit, vegetables, protein, soluble and insoluble fiber, and omega-3s!
So, without further ado, here is the recipe for this gorgeous smoothie:
- 1/3 cup skim milk or non-dairy alternative
- 1 Tbsp chia seeds
- 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 Tbsp hazelnut spread
- 1 small container (about 5 oz) vanilla Greek yogurt, or plain yogurt and a splash of vanilla extract, or non-dairy alternative
- 1 1/2 cup Wild blueberries (like Wyman's of Maine)
- 3 cups fresh spinach, packed
- 1/2 frozen banana, optional
- 5-8 ice cubes
- Blend the milk and chia seeds on high until chia seeds are pulverized.
- Add the remaining ingredients, except ice, and blend until almost smooth.
- Add ice and blend until smooth.
- Pour into a travel cup for a healthy meal on the go!