Smoothies are ubiquitous these days. Really, everyone’s drinking them (yup, including me). I can see why; as long as you make them right, they’re a great way to get a double dose of fruits and veggies for breakfast or a snack. Of course, when you look at the ingredient list of some smoothie recipes, they’re more like dessert: loaded with fruit and then even more sweeteners. Really, you should not need to add honey, no matter how healthy you think honey is, to your smoothie if you have at least some fruit in it.
I have my go-to green smoothie recipe, which I’ll share one of these days, but recently I’ve been experimenting with other fruits, veggies, and flavors. Inspired by a sale on cherries and some leftover zucchini just about to go bad, today I thought a sneaky black forest smoothie might hit the spot. And sure enough it did.
Usually I use spinach or kale as the veggie base for my smoothies, but since I went a little overboard last week when I saw zucchini at the farmers market, I thought I’d try something new. I shredded about four of them to use throughout the week (I sneak shredded zucchini into oatmeal too) and have stuck a small handful in my green smoothies in addition to spinach, but today, zucchini’s the star.
And why not? Zucchini lends itself well to sweet flavors; society’s been making zucchini bread apparently since the 1960s, and chocolate variations abound. Plus, it and other summer squash have some pretty great nutritional benefits, including packing as much heart-healthy potassium as a banana; generous amounts of eye-protecting antioxidants; high levels of B vitamins, choline, zinc, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids for blood sugar regulation; and antimicrobial properties in its seeds. Plus, I know I’m always touting this, but the combination of these nutrients offers anti-inflammatory benefits. Add in some cocoa powder and cherries, and you’ve got yourself one awesome way to start your morning or energize your afternoon. And with all the other goodies, you won’t even know you’re drinking zucchini, even without adding any sweeteners. I promise.
Chocolate Cherry Zucchini Smoothie
2 zucchini, shredded
1 very ripe banana
Couple handfuls of cherries, pitted
2 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
2 scoops unsweetened vanilla protein powder or 1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 ½ to 2 cups unsweetened milk of choice (almond, soy, cow, etc.)
Add all items to a blender and process on low until combined. Switch to the highest setting and continue blending until extremely smooth. I don’t have a Vitamix or Blendtec but still had no trouble getting a creamy, smooth consistency; it just took a few minutes. Makes two 16-ounce servings.