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  • Writer's pictureKelly

Chocolate PB + J Almond Smoothie (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free, Fruit-Sweetened)

Updated: Feb 21, 2023

This smoothie is inspired by a recipe on Vega's Protein & Greens chocolate flavor protein powder canister. I tried the original recipe and discovered it needed a little something extra. So I edited the recipe, adding new ingredients and changing amounts of ingredients to make it tastier and healthier. This smoothie might just be a runner-up as my favorite homemade smoothie, second only to My Go-To "Date Shake" smoothie.



The decadent smoothie has ingredients that complement each other perfectly: cherries, chocolate, almond extract, and peanut butter. This smoothie is vegan, gluten-free, and fruit-sweetened and is basically a milkshake.. but healthy. It's thick, icy, and creamy and is one of my most-frequently made homemade smoothies. It packs a huge punch of protein: 26-30 grams of protein per recipe!!* That's more than half of the amount of protein you should consume daily! (For women, it's more than half your daily recommended intake of protein. For men, it's a little less than half the daily recommended intake of protein.) Not only is this smoothie delicious, but it's also nutritious.


Like I said, this smoothie is inspired by a recipe that used to be printed on the packaging of Vega's Protein & Greens chocolate flavor protein powder. I tweaked the amounts of some of the ingredients and added new ingredients to make it match my taste preferences. The original Vega recipe is 6 ingredients: frozen cherries, ice, almond milk, almond butter, cocoa powder, and Vega's Protein & Greens chocolate flavor. My Chocolate PB + J Almond Smoothie recipe has 8 ingredients: banana, flaxseed, almond extract, peanut butter, frozen cherries, ice, chocolate protein powder, and almond milk. I find that the ingredients I added make the smoothie more rich, flavorful, and make the protein powder taste less strong (don't get me wrong, Vega's Protein & Greens protein powder tastes great- it's one of the best vegan protein powders I've tried- but sometimes you need to make sure you're adding enough almond milk and other ingredients so it's not too overpowering).



Nutritional Profile of a Chocolate PB + J Almond Smoothie


Banana- bananas are an excellent source of potassium, fiber, and trace minerals and help ease cramps (including menstrual cramps), help relieve muscle pain from exercising, help with digestion, and support heart health.


Cherries- cherries contain vitamin C, antioxidants, fiber, and potassium which can help with anything from immune health to digestive health to muscle health. (Tip: if you can stomach the taste of raw, unsweetened, 100% tart cherry juice, try and drink it on a regular basis. It is great for immune health, among other things.)


Cacao- cacao powder is filled with antioxidants and iron, and it boosts HDL cholesterol (the good kind), helps with menstrual cramps & symptoms, and is associated with increased serotonin (the feel-good brain chemical) levels.


Flaxseed- flaxseed is rich in fiber, protein, and omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol, lower blood pressure, support brain development & cognition, and support immune health, among other things.


Peanut butter- peanut butter is packed with healthy fats, mainly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, as well as protein, iron, and trace minerals. These nutrients help build muscle, support heart & blood health, and support brain health.


Almond milk- almond milk is a good source of vitamin E and, if fortified, contains calcium & vitamin D which build bone and are important nutrients for vegans to make sure they're getting enough of in their diet.





Substitutions


You can swap cacao powder or cocoa powder for the vegan, sugar-free chocolate protein powder in this recipe. I've tried it and it tastes great either with the chocolate protein powder or just with the cacao/cocoa. You can substitute any kind of seed for the flaxseed (such as hempseed or chia seeds). I highly recommend using the peanut butter for this smoothie as it makes it taste so good, but if you can't do it on your diet, then almond butter also tastes great in this smoothie, and I am confident that other nut/seed butters could be used as a substitute (some more ideas: cashew butter, coconut butter, macadamia nut butter, etc.).


Any kind of unsweetened plant milk can be substituted for the unsweetened almond milk. Cashew milk and coconut milk work in this smoothie. The banana is hard to leave out of this recipe/swap out because it adds sweetness to this smoothie, but you could definitely try using dates instead, or maple syrup/agave, or a liquid artificial sweetener, or just leave out the banana altogether! The frozen cherries really take the jelly part of this Chocolate PB + J Almond Smoothie to a whole other level, but any fruit that works for the "jelly" part of this smoothie could be used as a substitute (i.e. strawberries, raspberries, etc.). I recommend using frozen cherries over fresh ones, but fresh could work too (*Note: the consistency will change if you're using fresh cherries instead of frozen cherries).


The almond extract adds such a great flavor to this smoothie, but you could sub the almond extract with vanilla extract/powder or leave it out. And the ice isn't necessary, but it makes the smoothie more of a thick, frozen milkshake.



Other Add-ins


There's a lot of possibilities for add-ins for this smoothie, so use your imagination! A pinch of cinnamon could be nice, or a couple Medjool dates in addition to the banana could ramp this smoothie up a notch, sweetness-wise. Coconut cream could add additional creaminess, and I'm sure if you even wanted to make this a boozy smoothie that could be an option as well.


And I bet you could even sneak a handful of spinach in there, too, for an extra health boost, seeing as it doesn't have much of a flavor in smoothies.


My philosophy: whoever says healthy can't be tasty hasn't done healthy right <3


As always, enjoy!


-K.


*If using one scoop of Vega's Protein & Greens chocolate flavor protein powder, and depending on how much peanut butter is used



Chocolate PB + J Almond Smoothie (Vegan, Paleo, Fruit-Sweetened)


Prep Time: 10 min

Cook Time: 0 min

Total Time: 10 min

Servings: 1 to 2 (1 large glass or 2 smaller glasses)


Ingredients:


-1 banana

-3/4 cup frozen cherries (can sub fresh cherries)

-1/2 cup ice

-1 scoop vegan, sugar-free chocolate protein powder OR 1 1/2 to 2 tsp cacao powder (or cocoa powder)

-1 Tbsp flaxseed meal

-Several drops almond extract

-1 to 2 Tbsp peanut butter (or almond butter or nut/seed butter of choice)

-1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or unsweetened plant milk of choice)


For garnish (optional):


-Cacao powder, fresh/frozen cherries, cacao nibs, chopped dairy-free, sugar-free dark chocolate, a drizzle of nut/seed butter, etc.


Directions:


1. Measure out all ingredients and add to a high-speed blender.


2. Blend until smooth & creamy.


3. Pour into one large glass or two smaller glasses, garnish, if desired, and enjoy!


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