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This article is shared with permission from Colin Gentry, a health and fitness journalist with over 8 years of experience. You can follow him on Twitter here!

Lift the spirits without the sugar crash. If you feel like your proverbial glass is half-empty, a real one full of blended-up greens may not exactly fill your heart with joy. Sometimes only chocolate will do.

Cravings for chocolate can be an emotional trigger, or it could be a need for magnesium (found in dark chocolate). A desire for something sweet can also signal a magnesium deficiency or dehydration.

A chocolate milkshake can have over 350 calories and 65 grams of sugar lurking in its depths. This smoothie, however, has all the chocolate flavor but without the workout full of regret required to burn off the calories. It will curb the cravings and lift your mood with its surprising serotonin-boosting ingredients. Who knew chocolate and spinach went so well together?

Raw Cacao (and protein powder)

True cacao is packed with phytonutrients that can beat fatigue, lower blood pressure and combat cardiovascular disease. Cacao has a bitter taste, and many mainstream chocolate bars are sweetened, containing just 10% cacao and diluting the phytonutrients during processing. (1)

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Adding raw cacao nibs to the smoothie retains all of their goodness. The addition of chocolate-flavoured protein powder counters the bitterness.

Spinach

You won’t taste the spinach in this smoothie, but you’ll enjoy both the thickness it gives it and the benefits to your mood. Along with being a fantastic source of iron, spinach can help raise serotonin levels.

A naturally occurring chemical in the body, serotonin promotes good moods, healthy appetites, and better sleeping patterns.

Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds help boost serotonin production. They are also a source of heart-healthy omega-3 essential fatty acids, and there is evidence that flaxseed can inhibit cancer.

If you’re short on fiber in your diet, flaxseed delivers four grams in just one teaspoon. Introducing more soluble fiber into your diet can help reduce spikes in blood glucose levels and post-mealtime sluggishness.

Psyllium

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The husk of the seed from the Plantago plant, psyllium will certainly make your digestive system happy. The spongy fiber makes you feel fuller while cleansing your system.

Unsweetened Almond Milk

Another serotonin booster, almond milk is a superior alternative to dairy here for its contribution to elevating your mood. A 2011 study published in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Proteome Research found that those with metabolic syndrome and who consumed a handful of almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts daily saw a rise in their serotonin levels (3).

Feel free experiment with your choice of nut milk, remembering the smoothie also includes nut butter.

Click here to learn how to make your own almond milk!

Chocolate Protein Smoothie

chocolate smoothie

Created by Clean Eating Guide’s Courtney Pruce and used with permission from TRAINFITNESS’s exclusive smoothie recipe ebook.

Serves: 2

Prep time: 1 minute

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Ingredients:

  • 1 handful of raw cacao nibs

  • 1.5 scoops of chocolate flavored whey protein

  • 1 handful of spinach leaves (frozen or fresh)

  • 15g ground flaxseeds

  • 1 handful of powdered psyllium husks for fiber

  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk. Add more if you want a runnier consistency.

  • 15g nut butter (almond or cashew would work great)

  • 1 handful of ice cubes

Instructions:

  1. Pour all the ingredients into a blender

  2. Blend for 30 seconds

  3. Drink immediately

  4. Feel better!

Try these smoothies next!

Sources:

Langer S, Marshall LJ, Day AJ, Morgan MR, Flavanols and methylxanthines in commercially available dark chocolate: a study of the correlation with nonfat cocoa solids. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21699218. Published August 10, 2011. Accessed February 27, 2017.

Wang  L, Chen J and Thompson L, The inhibitory effect of flaxseed on the growth and metastasis of estrogen receptor negative human breast cancer xenografts is attributed to both its lignan and oil components. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Lilian_Thompson/publication/7887565_The_inhibitory_effect_of_flaxseed_on_the_growth_and_metastasis_of_estrogen_receptor_negative_human_breast_cancer_xenografts_is_attributed_to_both_its_lignan_and_oil_components/links/547337b80cf24bc8ea19cedf/The-inhibitory-effect-of-flaxseed-on-the-growth-and-metastasis-of-estrogen-receptor-negative-human-breast-cancer-xenografts-is-attributed-to-both-its-lignan-and-oil-components.pdf Published 2005. Accessed February 27, 2017.

Tulipani, Sara, Metabolomics Unveils Urinary Changes in Subjects with Metabolic Syndrome following 12-Week Nut Consumption. http://pubs.acs.org/stoken/presspac/presspac/full/10.1021/pr200514h Published September 12, 2011. Accessed February 27, 2017.

 

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