Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

 I love healthy breakfast smoothies, and for me they have to be dairy-free and paleo (this one is even vegan!), so I make mine with almond milk. It's also perfect for kids. Chocolate cherry smoothie an easy, high-protein breakfast, lunch or snack that satisfies my sweet tooth and keeps me full until lunch. I love to drink them before I work out so I have energy without feeling weighed down.

I'm always really hungry in the morning, but a heavy meal that early can sit like lead. In college I had early-morning dance rehearsals, and no one wants a breakfast burrito in their belly while they waltz. These days instead of waltzing I'm working out in the early morning, and it's the same problem. Because of my blood sugar, I can't exercise on an empty stomach or I'll pass out. I also need a big dose of protein first thing in the a.m., so that's tricky, right? 

I started drinking protein drinks when I was in college, and I've had one most every morning since then. I've had to drop them from my diet at times because of doctor-mandated changes, and I just don't feel normal without them. I crave them. The brand of protein powder I used for years and years has whey in it, as many do, and I can't tolerate dairy anymore. I tried some dairy-free brands over the last few years, but they never sat right with my tummy. I finally found a brand that doesn't bother my stomach or my doctor, and breakfast smoothies are back on the menu! 

One of my favorites is a chocolate cherry smoothie, and since cherries are in season right now, I've been enjoying them everyday. This is a quick and easy breakfast, lunch or snack that is filling and delicious. I also find that I have far fewer sugar cravings when I drink my chocolate-based smoothies because I'm getting that satisfaction at breakfast. It's low in sugar, high in protein and nutrients, gluten, dairy and soy free, and keeps me full until lunch. My kids love this smoothie, and I always end up making more because they all want some.

Some notes:

I make mine in a Blendtec blender (a Vitamix is equivalent), and I cannot express what a different experience you will have if you use a lesser blender. I was faithful to my trusty Oster for years, and the only regret I have about my Blendtec is that I didn't buy it sooner. I've had mine for 6 years and it's going strong. We use it at least twice a day. 

The price of cocoa has spiked the last couple of years, so most manufacturers have reduced the amount of cocoa in their protein powders. The chocolate flavor doesn't taste like chocolate, so I supplement. No almost-a-hint-of-chocolate for me. I like a strong chocolate flavor.

I take it with me when I travel, and since I don't have a blender on the road, I take one of these blender bottles and mix with water. Obviously it's not as tasty, but it gets the job done and saves me from a fast food fate.

 

CHOCOLATE CHERRY SMOOTHIE

8 oz unsweetened almond milk

1 serving protein powder (for my brand a that is up to 2 scoops)

1/3 small banana with the peel on* (peel off if you aren't using a high-power blender)

1 cup frozen or fresh sweet cherries

1-2 tbsp cocoa powder (I use 2)

add ice if the cherries are fresh, none if the cherries are frozen.

Add water until the level reaches 24 ounces.

 

Blend until smooth. I use the smoothie setting on mine.

 

*The banana peel is a great prebiotic and feeds the good bacteria in your gut, and it's also great fiber. I buy organic.

 

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