I love coffee, and I love coffee people. It seems to me, based on my very unofficial and purely anecdotal research, that you’re either a hot coffee person or an iced coffee person, but few are both. Now, I don’t want to brag, but I have the great fortune of loving both hot and iced coffee. I know, I’m a lucky girl. As the weather starts to get warm, my coffee starts to get cold. When I want to boost my coffee experience and add nutrients, I make these Healthy Mocha Smoothies (Refined Sugar Free!).
What Makes These Healthy Mocha Smoothies Extra Special?
Thanks to strong coffee and a bit of cocoa powder, drinking this will make you feel like you’re sipping on a blended iced mocha. Unlike blended drinks you’d get at a coffee shop, this healthy mocha is nutrient rich and has no added sugar. Each of the ingredients, most of which are pantry staples, plays a role in making this smoothie delicious and nutritious:
- Coffee: But first, coffee. The most important ingredient. You can use caffeinated coffee or decaf, whatever floats your boat, home brewed or store-bought cold brewed. I like to brew some extra strong coffee at night and stick it in the fridge. That way, it’s ready to become a delicious smoothie in the morning. For this smoothie, I recommend brewing an extra strong batch. This imparts loads of coffee flavor without adding too much liquid.
- Cocoa powder: You can’t have mocha without cocoa powder. Unsweetened cocoa powder makes this smoothie a rich treat by giving it a deep chocolate flavor with no added sugar. Either natural or Dutch processed cocoa works. That said, if you’re looking to reap the benefits of brain-boosting cocoa flavanols, go with natural cocoa. The Dutching process, which makes cocoa less bitter, reduces the health benefits. Because natural cocoa is on the bitter side, I’d advise adding only one to two teaspoons, depending on how chocolatey your want your smoothie (and remember, you can always add more, but you can’t take away!).
- Frozen banana: I’m increasingly convinced that bananas are magical. Raw, baked, frozen, blended, ripe, unripe….the possibilities are limitless. Here, they help make the smoothie sweet and creamy, and add nutrients that promote cardiovascular and digestive health. Plus, if you’re like me and your eyes can be bigger than your stomach in Costco, you end up with bananas haunting you in the kitchen, just waiting to be used. I’ve started slicing and freezing bananas, making them perfect to use for occasions like this.
- Pitted dates: Dates add natural sweetness to this icy treat, along with all-important fiber. Either Medjool or Deglet Noor, the two most common types of dates in the US, work well. For this recipe, soak the dates in warm water for up to 5 minutes to help soften them up. This will help them blend smoothly with the other ingredients. Looking for another great use of dates? Try our Yummy Carrot Date Cinnamon Rolls (Refined Sugar Free!)
- Greek yogurt: I prefer my smoothies creamy and thick, and Greek yogurt gives body and protein to these healthy mocha smoothies. Greek yogurt has about twice as much protein as regular yogurt, and plain, nonfat Greek yogurt is free from added sugars.
- Splashes of vanilla and milk: I love baking because it is such an exact science; I know just how much of an ingredient to add to create a tasty product. Smoothies want me to lighten up a little bit. Smoothies are more of an art than a science, and artists add splashes. A splash of vanilla gives some sweetness and flavor to this smoothie, while a little bit of milk helps give the drink a smooth texture. (If splashes make you nervous and you really want to measure, I’d suggest a half teaspoon of vanilla and two tablespoons of milk.)
- Ground flaxseed: Ground flaxseed is optional here. It doesn’t necessarily add to the flavor, but it can benefit your digestive health and cholesterol. The best part of adding ground flaxseed is getting its healthy benefits without even knowing it’s there.
- Ice: Although the banana is frozen, these healthy mocha smoothies need additional ice to make them the blended iced drink or smoothie texture we know and love. If you like thick smoothies, add more ice. (I’ve added up to two cups of ice before.)
Blending It Together
To make this smoothie, all you need to do is place your ingredients in a blender, and hit the blend button. A strong blender makes this whip together easily, but I’m using my grandparents’ old blender, and it still comes together in seconds. You may need to pause and give the mixture a stir, just to make sure the dates, ice, and banana are getting fully incorporated and not stuck at the bottom.
Whether you’re sipping this decadent drink as you work through your to-do list or as you’re enjoying a spring breeze on the porch, this Healthy Mocha Smoothie (Refined Sugar Free!) will make your taste buds and body happy.