We all remember the words from the Mary Poppins song (oh, yes you do – no sense in denying it) about a spoonful of sugar helping the medicine go down. Well here’s a new take on that old idea that offers all of us the opportunity to increase our intake of vegetables and fiber every day. You’re going to combine healthy spinach with your favorite non-vegetable (that would be chocolate), throw in a bunch of other good-for-you ingredients, and end up with a smoothie that’s loaded with vitamins and minerals, has less than two hundred calories and can be made in less than five minutes. As if all of that weren’t enough, the concoction is absolutely delicious. The spinach is so undetectable that you’ll be able to slip the green stuff past unsuspecting spouses and veggie-hating kids – and you’ll find them asking for more.
The real beauty of this recipe is that it’s really just an idea rather than a formula. If you start with the basic premise of combining a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach with some fruit, two tablespoons of dark cocoa powder and a milk-type product, you can alter it to suit your tastes, the fruits that are in season (or in your freezer), and whatever you have on hand. What I’ve provided below are a couple of recipes that will give you the basic premise and get you started. Change the fruits, add some protein powder, throw in a bit of agave nectar to sweeten it a bit – dress it up or down as you please. Enjoy!
Spinach and Blueberry Chocolate Protein Shake
2 cups fresh spinach, washed
1 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)
1 scoop protein powder (unflavored)
2 Tbsp. dark cocoa powder
¾ cup milk (plain, almond, soy, coconut – whatever your preference)
Throw it all into the blender and rev it up – process until smooth.
Hidden Spinach Smoothie
2-3 cups fresh raw spinach
2 cups milk (rice, almond, coconut, etc)
2 whole bananas
6 pitted dates
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
Remember – you can add ice cubes or freeze the fruit to make the smoothie cold and frosty, throw in some fat-free Greek yogurt to give it a bit of a tang and tons more protein, substitute strawberries or raspberries, whatever you’d like. The spinach is the key to the drink’s healthiness, and if you use dark cocoa powder you’re boosting the anti-oxidant factor like crazy. Chocolate as health food… life is good!