We’ve been keeping warm and cosy by sipping on this deelish delight during the recent cold snap! Oh my! How it hits the spot! Food of the Gods and Heaven in a Cup! This simple smoothie will take only moments to prepare but it’ll have a magically L O N G lasting effect that’ll warm you right through from head to toe and help you realize that the only reason for cold weather is so we can snuggle up on the sofa, log fire blazing, old movies playing, cats purring, dogs – uh, well, I don’t have one, so I’m guessing they’ll be sitting on either your lap or on top of the cats – with the world stopping while you sip and savour…
This particular hot choconana is packed full of goodies, so there’s no need to feel guilty and it’ll be great for the kids too. The star of the show is of course, the chocolate. Use 100% cocoa powder to make sure you benefit from all the wonderful compounds real chocolate contains or releases~ anandamide, flavanols, phenylethylamine, magnesium. It has the highest level of antioxidants found in any food; it releases ‘happy’ neuro transmitters known to increase levels of endorphins and other opiates in our brain; it can change blood pressure and blood sugar levels leading to feelings of excitement and alertness.
Not making much sense? Think of it this way ~ 100% cocoa is GOOD FOR YOU AND IT MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD! What more is there to say? Well, the most obvious comment coming up is moderation moderation moderation! Sorry to put a damper on things, but too much of anything is a bad thing! Except maybe love. You can’t ever get too much love and you can’t ever give too much love. Which brings us nicely back to the humbly heroic cocoa bean – that compound I mentioned? – phenylethylamine – its other, rather easier and certainly more catchy name is the “lurve drug”! Yep, that’s why chocolate is the number one gift considered an aperitif for love…
Ah! But don’t be getting confused and bravely break out those chocolate stashes you’ve been hiding away, oh no! Not all chocolate is made equal. Those flavanols, the antioxidant compounds, are more bitter than an olive straight off the tree! (Don’t try it, ever! I thought Sean was a good man till he tricked me into trying one when we were soaking up some Spanish sunshine down in Andulucia. I’d rather eat fire!).
So, here’s the rule of thumb ~ the higher the cocoa content, the more bitter the taste. Dark chocolate is good for you, milk chocolate sucks!
Ok, well what else? The other star is banana, but I bet you guessed that already! Amazingly, some people don’t like bananas! We go crazy for them here at UTLT and maybe that’s because we were both born abroad, in more tropical climes. No matter, because although delectable, it’s not detectable in this recipe so if you have a ripening banana throw it in, if not, throw it out. Nutrients in the ‘nana are plentiful, the most abundant of which is potassium ~ essential for the heart, the nervous system, our kidneys, bones and muscles. Wait, there’s more! Vitamins C and B6 are also in abundance and it’s natural sugar content make the ‘nana a natural ‘pick-me-up’. Going to add one afterall?
So now we only need some milk, a yogurt and a mixer. I used soy milk and a dairy vanilla yogurt. Use what you prefer. Added to the mix can be cinnamon, or ginger, or nothing at all. Again, experiment and use what you prefer. Spices though will add that special twist, whipping the hot choconana up into the realm of the gods. I also added pieces of real chocolate, just for that extra something. Takes you even higher.
There’s one drawback ~ as good for you as the hot choconana smoothie is, it’s gone too soon! Enjoy!
Recipe for Hot ChocoNana Smoothie ~ makes 2 cups
2 tps 100% cocoa powder; 1 cup milk – soy or dairy; 1 pot vanilla yogurt – soy or dairy; 1 ripe banana (optional); spices – 1 tps cinnamon or ginger (optional); 1 piece dark chocolate (optional).
Place all the ingredients in a mixer and blast for a couple of seconds. Transfer to a pan and bring to just under the boil, stirring frequently. Pour into waiting cups and if it takes your fancy, top with a sprinkle of extra cocoa powder or dessicated coconut or the zest of an orange (clementine, tangerine etc etc). I did all three just to be totally decadent.