This creamy cacao smoothie is delicious and loaded with healthy ingredients including banana, blueberries, cacao powder and cacao nibs. It makes for a great snack or breakfast!
This cacao smoothie was one of the best smoothies I have had in a long time! It’s creamy, chocolatey and I absolutely loved the texture that the cacao nibs added.
Cocoa vs Cacao
The official name of the chocolate tree is Theobroma cacao but, some experts say, over the years the word “cacao” became Anglicized, and probably through error, people started replacing it with the word “cocoa”. I’m pretty sure most of us grew up saying cocoa bean, not cacao bean – I know I did. But the raw foodies out there and super food companies alike are going back to the roots and calling it the proper name which is cacao.
Benefits of Cacao
Cacao not only adds a rich chocolate flavor but is also packed with powerful nutrients; including antioxidants, fiber, magnesium, and iron. Here are some impressive health benefits of cacao (source):
It’s one of the richest sources of polyphenols, which are naturally occurring antioxidants
Abundant in flavanols, which have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects
One of the highest sources of magnesium
It may help reduce high blood pressure
It may help to improve brain function and blood flow
Contains many compounds that have antibacterial and immune-stimulating properties
Can help manage weight
May reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke
milk – I like using unsweetened almond milk but any dairy-free milk (or dairy milk) works! Here’s how to make homemade almond milk.
banana – make sure you’re using a frozen banana for a refreshing smoothie! If you’re not a fan of bananas, I have some tips for you below.
blueberries – for antioxidants and added flavor. You can use frozen or fresh. Frozen blueberries will help make the smoothie icier and thicker.
almond butter – look for natural almond butter that doesn’t have any added ingredients. The ingredient list should just read almonds and salt! Feel free to sub this with another nut or seed butter like peanut butter or tahini.
raw cacao powder – a superfood that adds a rich chocolate flavor and is also packed with powerful nutrients. My favorite brand is Navitas organic cacao powder.
cacao nibs – cacao nibs are chocolate in their raw form. They give this smoothie that crunchy texture and add more chocolate flavor. Navitas organic cacao nibs are my go-to brand.
While it’s easy to think you can just throw a bunch of ingredients into the blender and your smoothie will turn out, I’ve found that isn’t actually always the case! I love the combination of flavors I’ve shared for this smoothie, but if you want to switch it up, here are some ideas:
Add some greens – to add more nutrients and some veggies you could totally add some greens to this smoothie. Baby spinach, loaded with calcium, would be my first choice, but feel free to add your favorite green.
Swap the banana – I know not everyone is a fan of bananas. The banana provides sweetness and creaminess to the smoothie. You can use fresh avocado or a frozen zucchini (seriously!) to add creaminess to the smoothie and then add a little bit of sweetener like honey or maple syrup to taste. See more ideas below!
Swap the blueberries – frozen strawberries, blackberries or mixed berries will work well here.
Add protein – want to add some protein to this smoothie? Add a scoop of your favorite protein powder or some Greek yogurt.
Almond butter – feel free to use your favorite nut or seed butter in place of the almond butter. If you don’t have nut butter on hand you could also add whole seeds or nuts like almonds or chia seeds.
How to Make a Smoothie Without Banana
I know some of you aren’t banana lovers out there so I wanted to share how to make this smoothie without the use of a banana! The banana in this recipe gives the smoothie a thick and creamy texture and it also adds a bit of sweetness, without being too overpowering. If you’re looking for a low-sugar option, are allergic to bananas or simply don’t like them, here are some ideas for replacements:
ice – add more ice by replacing the frozen banana with ice (about 1 cup). It will give the shake volume and add a nice, frozen slushy texture.
frozen milk ice cubes – this is the same concept, but instead of using regular ice cubes, make frozen cubes using your favorite non-dairy milk (like almond or coconut milk) and use about 1 cup of these cubes instead of the frozen banana.
frozen cauliflower rice – I use frozen cauliflower rice in my smoothies all the time and it works as a low-sugar replacement for frozen bananas. I do find that it adds a different texture to smoothies especially if you use a large amount. I’d start with 1/4 cup, give the smoothie a taste and then add more if needed.
avocado – fresh (or frozen) avocado works great as a sub for the creaminess banana adds to smoothies.
frozen zucchini – like frozen cauliflower, frozen zucchini works great as a low-sugar replacement for frozen bananas. It also doesn’t add a ton of flavor! You can blanch or steam your zucchini before freezing if you want to make it easier to digest, but I don’t find this necessary.
frozen fruit – other frozen fruit options like frozen mangos or frozen peaches work great as a substitute for frozen banana, but they usually have more flavor and can change the taste of your smoothie more than banana does. Just keep that in mind if you’re planning to use them as a sub.
pro tip!The banana does add sweetness to this recipe, so if you're not replacing it with another frozen fruit you might want to add a touch of sweetness in the form of maple syrup, honey or stevia.
Can I Meal Prep This Smoothie?
Yes! There are a couple of ways to meal prep a smoothie. If you’ll be enjoying it within 24 hours, you can make the smoothie as directed and store it in an airtight container in your refrigerator until you’re ready to enjoy. Simply give it a shake or an additional blend before enjoying it!
You can also portion out all of the ingredients in containers so you’re ready to just dump and blend! In a separate freezer-safe container, store the banana and blueberries. When you’re ready to make your smoothie, you’ll just add your ready-to-go ingredients to your blender and you’ve got a smoothie in seconds!