As the spring weather starts to make its appearance, smoothie time becomes more and more intriguing. Smoothies offer the perfect opportunity to sneak in some potent powders and seeds and jump start your morning with mega nutritional mileage. Today I am sharing one of my favorite smoothies - The Crazy Monkey aka peanut butter, banana, cacao smoothie. Nothing beats this delicious combo of three of my favorite foods.
Cacao is somewhat of a confusing ingredient. Is it chocolate? Is it good for you? Is it raw? To help clarify things, here is the run down on cacao. Cacao is the purest form of chocolate and is usually found raw. The cacao bean grows in pods on the cacao tree in Central and South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Following harvesting, cacao can be turned into nibs, butter, or powder.
When cacao is heated and processed, it turns into cocoa and is usually infused with other ingredients such as preservatives, sugar, milk, and food coloring. When purchasing cocoa powder or mixes, make sure to read the ingredients to avoid any unwanted ingredients. So what's the difference between cacao and chocolate? Chocolate is the combination of cacao or cocoa with sweeteners, milk, and possibly oil, nuts, dried fruit, and seeds. When purchasing a chocolate bar, opt for brands that use fair trade cacao beans and are at least 70% cacao. This means 70% of the bar is made of raw cacao and 30% is from other ingredients like sugar, milk, and/or nuts.
So why should you be consuming cacao? Cacao has many beneficial ingredients that can assist your body in a multitude of ways. Cacao is a great source of magnesium which promotes restful sleep and is crucial for more then 300 bodily functions, including those affecting the muscles, nervous system, bones, and heart. Cacao is also an antioxidant and reduces inflammation. Finally, cacao contains fiber which assists with satiety and promotes bowel regularity. In case you were looking for an excuse to nibble on some chocolate or munch on cacao nibs, go for it, just in moderation, of course.
The Crazy Monkey Smoothie
- 1 1/2 medium sized frozen bananas
- A handful of spinach
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter or sun butter
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened raw cacao powder
- 2 teaspoons maca powder
- 1 1/2 cups raw coconut water
- 2 dates, pitted
- 2 tablespoons hemp seeds
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon (less if you are not such a cinnamon fan)
- 1/4 cup ice cubes
Blend all the ingredients together in a high speed blender and enjoy.
Thanks to Portlandia, I can never say cacao without thinking of this.