hazelnut cocoa banana smoothie

hazelnut, cocoa + banana smoothie // raw cacao vs. cocoa

Don’t you just love those on-a-whim recipes? Even more so when they’re healthy? They’re the best. I’m a sucker for anything chocolate, there’s no denying. And there are plenty of ways to work a beautiful, healthful and delicious ingredient into everyday life, minus the sugar and nasty additives that can often accompany cocoa. I’m a bit on the fence as of late with regards to whether raw cacao trumps regular ol’ cocoa, re the whole phytic acid business. Lost me? I’ll give you the run down:

  • We love cacao for its flavonoids, which are essentially antioxidants and we know they’re good for us
  • It’s magnesium rich, perfect for aching muscles as well as being vital for energy production within the body
  • It’s a powerful heart stimulant due to its theobromine, which has properties similar to caffeine, so it’s a great pick-me-up (just consume in moderate amounts)

However (you knew it was coming), raw cacao, that’s the unprocessed, expensive stuff, is high in phytates, substances that bind to important minerals like iron before they are absorbed in the gut. They can cause other problems within the gut, altering the gut enzymes and making it much harder for your body to digest. The process of fermenting and roasting the cacao bean, to make cocoa, reduces a lot of the phytic acid present, rendering the final product a little gentler on the gut. Many of the antioxidants will have been destroyed though, so that’s unfortunate.

That being said, generally raw cacao isn’t consumed in such large amounts that it causes a major problem, but it’s something to keep in mind when purchasing your next bag of chocolate goodness. I think gut health is first and foremost essential for vitality, so don’t stress if you can only afford the regular stuff. It’ll still do you a world of good, both physically and in your soul.

Now, to that recipe. This is super easy to whip up. It’s vegan, gluten-free (if you omit the wheatgerm) and rich in potassium, healthy fats and fibre. The hazelnut milk is deliciously creamy and pairs superbly with the chocolate. Just like healthy nutella, which I thought only existed in my dreams.

hazelnut cocoa banana smoothie

hazelnut, cocoa + banana smoothie – serves 1 – vegan and gluten free

you’ll need…

  • 1 large frozen banana
  • half an avocado
  • 1 tblsp cocoa/raw cacao
  • half tsp vanilla powder OR 1 tsp vanilla bean paste/vanilla extract
  • 1 cup hazelnut milk (to make, blend 1 cup of soaked hazelnuts with 3 cups of water, then strain)
  • optional: 1 tblsp wheatgerm for B-vitamins and folate (omit if gluten free)
  • optional: only if needed, a dash of maple syrup (this really depends on the sweetness of your bananas – first time I made this it was a tad under-sweet so I simply added more bananas but of course it thickens it up, which I don’t mind! your choice)

here’s what you do…

  1. Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Pour into pretty glass and drink with love!
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