A healthy Paleo smoothie made with just 4 ingredients, including almond or coconut milk, dates, bananas, and cocoa powder. Like chunky monkey, but without any added sugar!
This healthy Paleo smoothie reminds me of Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream, but more smooth(ie) and creamy. And it’s completely dairy-free and vegan, with a deep, rich chocolate taste.
Do I really need a recipe?
I can’t remember when smoothies first became a “thing,” but I do remember kind of rolling my eyes ? at the whole idea of a smoothie “recipe.” I mean, can’t you just throw a bunch of stuff in a blender and let it rip? Well, you can… but until you have some experience, you probably don’t really want to.
There are a bunch of different elements to a good smoothie experience (stop rolling your eyes!). If you’ve ever just thrown a bunch of ingredients together, you probably know what I mean. There’s temperature (cold is the way to go—trust me), thickness, color (a greenish brown smooth is just … gross) and of course taste.
You also want a smooth to be easy. You don’t really want to have to cook anything before you make that smoothie. Oh, and it has to actually be smooooooth. I’ve made smoothies in the name of recipe-testing that have taken way too long to make, and then weren’t even smooth.
If you’re drinking it with a straw, you shouldn’t have to chew. I think we can all agree on that!
You don’t need a high-powdered, $400 blender to make a smoothie. Of course, the better your blender, the smoother your drink will be. Over the years, I’ve had nearly every kind of blender and they all have their pros and cons.
Most recently, after my most-ordinary-of-blenders died, I purchased a NutriBullet since smoothies are a regular thing in my house. (They’re great for growing athletes!) I have the Magic Bullet 900 Series (affiliate link—but shop around!). I bought it on sale, with coupons. It’s already paid for itself since I can’t remember the last time my youngest absolutely begged to go to Jamba Juice for an overpriced smoothie.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Medjool dates are crazy soft and sweet, can be blended very smooth and they add a great deal of nutrition along with that sweetness. I think it’s unrealistic to eliminate sweetness completely, but anytime I can use an unrefined source, I’m game to try.
Deglet Noor dates are smaller and drier than Medjool, but they tend to be very widely available. They work perfectly well, too.
Cocoa powder. When there are so few ingredients in a recipe, it really makes all the difference when you use the right ones, so try to use Dutch-processed cocoa powder if you can. I use Rodelle brand, and I buy it on amazon. But regular Hershey’s natural cocoa powder works fine, too.
Bananas. Frozen bananas add sweetness, creaminess, and thickness to this smoothie like no other frozen fruit can do quite as well. Frozen mangoes add similar texture and thickness, but of course, a different taste to smoothies. I haven’t tried replacing the bananas with mangoes in this recipe since I’m not entirely sure how they’d pair with the cocoa powder. If you try it, let us know how it goes!
Get in the habit of peeling, slicing and freezing bananas this summer in an even layer on a large baking sheet. Once they’re frozen, pop them in a zipper-top bag. They won’t brown or get mushy, and they add the perfect texture to your healthy smoothies. You can also use those bananas to make banana bread. Just let them defrost first at room temperature, or pop them in the microwave for about 30 seconds before mashing them.
Milk. I like unsweetened and unflavored almond milk best in this recipe, but coconut milk from the carton works great, too. If you’re not dairy free, go ahead and use cow’s milk. They all work!
If you’re dairy free, Lindsay from Cotter Crunch has this awesome-looking Anti-Inflammatory Meal Plan (Gluten Free, Dairy Free). Since my oldest is currently (and newly) dairy free, I’m super interested in it!
Click play ▶️ on the how-to video below, and see just how easy it is to make this creamy, rich and healthy smoothie!
Healthy Paleo Smoothie
3 cups (24 fluid ounces) unsweetened almond (or coconut) milk
1 pound Medjool dates, pitted
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (30 g) unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch-processed is best, if possible)
14 ounces (5 to 6 bananas), sliced and frozen on a baking sheet in a single layer
Place the milk in your blender first, followed by the dates and cocoa powder. Blend until completely smooth. Add the frozen banana slices, and blend again until smooth.
Serve immediately. Store any leftover smoothies covered in the refrigerator. It may thin a bit but should stay relatively thick.
Originally published on the blog in 2013. Recipe proportions tweaked slightly, video and photos new, text modified.