I hope your Valentine's Day plans involve chocolate. Real chocolate, that is, and not the waxy, synthetic, corn syrup variety. You've probably heard that eating a dark chocolate bar will provide some health benefits but it's actually the cocoa, made from cacao beans, that holds all the magic. Aside from being one of the most powerful food sources of antioxidants, research suggests that cocoa may have a positive impact on everything from brain function and heart health to cholesterol levels and skin health. Cocoa also boasts an impressive array of essential minerals like iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, zinc, and selenium.
Spoil yourself (or your sweetheart) this Valentine's Day by skipping the store-bought chocolate bars and instead making something filled with not only chocolatey goodness, but protein, minerals, healthy fats, fiber, and of course the most important ingredient: love. This smoothie comes together in a pinch and requires very little skill or preparation. How many other homemade, chocolatey Valentine's treats can say that?! Healthy enough to enjoy for breakfast, and fancy enough to enjoy for dessert, keep this recipe in your back pocket long after Valentine's Day :)
I use kefir in this recipe, which lends a tart taste to the smoothie. Kefir, like traditionally made yogurt, is a fermented milk product so it provides beneficial bacteria for promoting immune and digestive health. Amazingly, fermented dairy also has higher levels of nutrients than their non-fermented counterparts! I use kefir made from goat milk, which is usually tolerated even by people with sensitivities to cow’s milk. Kefir is widely available in health food stores and even some regular grocery stores, but yogurt can be substituted, or even almond milk if you require a dairy-free treat.
Ingredients and Directions (makes 2 smoothies):
1 ½ cups organic plain kefir (or use yogurt and add ½ cup water to the smoothie)
2 Tablespoons chia seeds
1.5 Tablespoons sesame tahini
2 Tablespoons raw, unpasteurized honey
1 Tablespoon raw cacao powder or nibs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch ground ginger
Pinch of fine Himalayan sea salt
3 ice cubes
Generous serving of love :)
Place everything in a blender and blend until smooth.
Note: if you make this ahead of time and let it sit for a few hours (or overnight) in the fridge it will thicken, thanks to the chia seeds, becoming more of a pudding.