Paula's Chocolate Cherry Delight
This delightful blend features the classic flavor duo of chocolate and cherry in an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich smoothie. It also happens to be gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan-friendly, and Paleo-compliant.
This recipe comes to us via Thrivers' Club Member, Paula S., who generously shared it with the Thrivers Club Community during our 21-day Smoothie Challenge and Workshop. I tried it, and immediately messaged her: "Wow, Paula! This is a blue ribbon smoothie!"
Paula has been one of my most steadfast Thrivers-- we've been working together since 2018! Over the years, she's covered a phenomenal distance on her healing journey, always open to trying new things, always committed to her health, and always ready to support her fellow Thrivers with a kind or supportive word. She's also a smoothie lover, and after looking at and trying several cherry smoothie recipes, she tweaked and perfected this luscious blend with a milkshake consistency. One of the keys to thyroid-healthy smoothies is that they need to be sugar-smart, and this one includes all the necessary elements: ample protein, healthy fats, and plenty of fiber.
Smoothies have become a staple in many health-conscious diets, and for good reason. They offer a convenient and delicious way to pack essential phytonutrients into your daily routine. Paula's Chocolate Cherry Smoothie has since become a part of my regular smoothie rotation. With her blessing, I'm thrilled to be able to share it with you! This chocolate cherry smoothie is not only a treat for your taste buds but a boon for your overall well-being. So, let's dive in and explore the benefits of this delectable blend.
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The Power of Cherries
Cherries are more than just a sweet and tart fruit; they are a nutritional powerhouse. Packed with antioxidants, fiber, and essential vitamins, cherries are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. The star component of this smoothie, cherries, helps combat oxidative stress and reduce inflammation in the body.
Cherries are particularly rich in anthocyanins, which are potent antioxidants that give these fruits their vibrant red color. These compounds have been linked to numerous health benefits, including reducing the risk of chronic diseases and supporting heart health.
Don't worry about the shortness of fresh cherry season, or getting out your cherry pitter. You can purchase frozen organic cherries, pitted and ready to use, in the freezer section of your local grocer.
The Goodness of Cacao
Cacao, the raw form of cocoa, is the second key ingredient in our chocolate cherry smoothie. Unlike processed cocoa, raw cacao retains more of its natural nutrients, making it a superb addition to your diet. Cacao is renowned for its high antioxidant content, particularly flavonoids.
Flavonoids, found abundantly in cacao, have been associated with improved cardiovascular health and cognitive function. They also possess anti-inflammatory properties, which complement and amplify the cherries' benefits perfectly.
Cacao is also an excellent source of magnesium, iron, and fiber, making it an ideal ingredient to support energy levels and overall well-being. Plus, it adds that rich, chocolatey flavor that is divine when paired with cherries!
Protein for Sustained Energy
To make this smoothie a well-rounded meal, it's important to incorporate a source of high-quality protein. Whether you're sipping it for breakfast, as a snack, or after a workout, protein is essential for muscle repair and keeping you satisfied. Protein also helps stabilize blood sugar levels, preventing energy crashes.
Without adding high-protein dairy (like Greek yogurt), we'll need to supplement our thyroid-healthy smoothies with a protein powder. Navigating the complex world of protein powders can be challenging, especially for Thyroid Thrivers with special dietary needs and restrictions. I've boiled down everything you need to know into a comprehensive blog post called, Picking the Perfect Protein Powder.
No time to read it? No worries. Here are my two favorite handpicked protein powders to get you started:
- Plant-based: Earth Chimp Plain & Unsweetened
- Animal-based: Be Well by Kelly LeVeque, Unflavored Grass-fed Protein Powder
I also really like Great Lakes Collagen Peptides as a source of protein and gut-healing amino acids, BUT it's important to note that collagen protein is not a complete protein.
If you want to know more about why I like these options, head on over to my complete guide to protein powders.
Aim for 20 to 30 grams of protein in your smoothie to keep you fueled throughout the day.
Healthy Fats for Satiety
Fats are essential for a balanced diet. Healthy fats, such as those found in avocados, nuts, and seeds, help keep you satisfied. In this chocolate cherry smoothie, healthy fats are included to ensure it's not just delicious but sugar-smart and filling.
Healthy fats not only slow the digestion of carbs (which can be high in fruit-based smoothies), but they’re also anti-inflammatory and critical to brain health, hormonal health, and cellular health. Healthy fats also help us absorb fat-soluble vitamins, like A, D, E, and K. By slowing down the digestion of the smoothie, healthy fats make it a great option for curbing mid-morning or afternoon cravings.
Avocado may sound like a weird thing to put in a smoothie, but with its creamy texture and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, it's an excellent choice and pairs wonderfully with the other ingredients. It also provides vitamins like potassium and folate for overall health.
Friendly Fiber for a Happy Gut
Like protein and healthy fats, fiber can help offset the effects of carbohydrate-rich smoothies. As Thyroid Thrivers, we need to avoid supplemental fiber within an hour of taking our medication, but consuming adequate fiber throughout the rest of the day can help support weight management, regularity, heart health, healthy cholesterol levels, and blood sugar balance, all of which are very common complications of hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s.
Fiber is also one of the best ways to support your gut health, which is foundational for Thyroid Thrivers who are more prone to digestive issues, gut dysbiosis, and intestinal permeability (leaky gut). Fiber feeds the beneficial bacteria in our guts, along with promoting digestion and helping us feel full. Smoothies are a perfect opportunity to boost your daily fiber intake, while also countering any unwanted effects of the healthy carbs in fruit.
Fiber is also something most of us aren’t getting enough of. As our overall fiber intake has dramatically decreased as a society, our rates of obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome have skyrocketed! The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories you consume daily, or around 30 grams daily for most of us.
Smoothies are a great way to boost your fiber intake because their main ingredient is fiber-rich fruits and veggies. You can go a step further by taking advantage of the opportunity to add supplemental fiber to your smoothies-- they're an ideal vehicle for it! Stir a scoop of ground flaxseed or chia seeds into your smoothie for an added dose of both healthy fats and fiber.
NOTE: Many plant-based protein powders already contain significant fiber, so check those labels when calculating your fiber intake. If you're currently low on fiber intake, work your way up gradually to avoid over-stressing the gut. If you're currently dealing with a gut health issue like intestinal permeability, you may need to go easy on supplemental fiber for a while to facilitate healing. Talk to your healthcare provider about how much or what type of fiber is currently right for you.
Before we make our smoothie, let's review the...
Thyroid Healthy Recipe Highlights
- Cherries are anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants. They're particularly rich in anthocyanins, which have been linked to numerous health benefits, including reducing the risk of chronic disease. Cherries are also a good source of fiber, which can help prevent constipation, a symptom that is commonly associated with hypothyroidism.
- Avocado is rich in healthy fats like oleic acid, which can help reduce cholesterol. It is also one of the few foods that helps the body produce glutathione, a super-antioxidant that can boost immune function, detoxify the liver, and help combat autoimmune symptoms. In addition to several antioxidants and key thyroid-supporting nutrients, avocado is fiber-rich, with 14 grams per fruit. This supports digestion, a healthy microbiome, and overall gut health.
- Cacao is a good source of trace minerals like copper and manganese. It also contains flavonols, a type of antioxidant that can reduce the cell damage caused by heart disease and help to lower blood pressure and promote vascular function.
- Bananas are a fiber-rich and nutrient-dense fruit and are a significant source of potassium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Magnesium and other thyroid-supporting nutrients.
Whether you're striving for better health or simply looking for a tasty treat, this smoothie is a winning choice. So, go ahead and indulge in the classic chocolate-cherry combo while nourishing your body from the inside out.
Happy cooking, happy thriving, and enjoy the recipe (below)!
P.S. Ready to unleash your inner Thriver?? Join us in The Thrivers Club! Our supportive community is here to cheer you on your thyroid journey, along with ongoing wellness adventures, endless recipe inspiration, informative workshops, cooking classes, exclusive discounts, and on-demand access to your very own health coach (that's me)! Explore The Thrivers Club today!
Try These Other Thyroid Healthy Beverages:
- Chocolate Protein Smoothie
- Citrus Chia Fresca
- Easy Instant Golden Milk
- Banana Orange Creamsicle Protein Smoothie
- Cranberry Zinger