Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Joy of Smoothies

When Katie posted a couple of weeks ago about protein powder, it reminded me that I've never shared the recipe for the protein smoothie I use as my go-to low-carb breakfast. I've tried tons of different ingredient combinations and flavors, but to me, this one wins by far. The texture is a perfect marriage of creamy and icy, it's richer and more chocolaty than most desserts, and the antioxidants in the cocoa and berries plus the nutrient-filled eggs and protein powder come together to make this the most non-health-food-seeming health food I've ever tasted. Eating this thing makes me feel like I've made some sort of deal with the devil in order for it to actually be under 20 net carbs.

The recipe all rests on a basic formula of 8 ounces of liquid ingredients to 1 scoop of protein powder, so you could swap out any combination of water, low-carb milk, cream, yogurt, etc. for the liquid, and you could throw in pretty much anything else you want to make whatever flavor you desire. I've enjoyed peanut butter, canned pumpkin, flaxseed, instant coffee, flavor extracts, and sugar-free syrups in my smoothies, but this particular combination of chocolate and berries is my clear favorite.

Tracey's Dark Chocolate Mixed Berry Protein Smoothie
2 eggs (optional)
3-4 oz. water (give or take, use more if not using eggs)
2 oz. (1/4 cup) heavy whipping cream (2g carb)
1 scoop chocolate Max Protein (3g carb, 1g sugar)
2 TBSP granular Splenda (6g carb, 0g sugar)
2 TBSP Hershey Special Dark Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (6g carb - 4g fiber = 2 net carbs, 0g sugar)
1/2 cup frozen mixed berries (8.5g carb - 3g fiber = 5.5 net carbs, 5.5g sugar)
ice cubes

(Total of 18.5 net carbs, 6.5 of which are sugar)

Since large appliances feel clunky to me, and since I hate washing extra dishes, I make my smoothie in an inexpensive single-serve blender and eat it right out of the travel-friendly blender cup.

The dry ingredients will blend in best if you begin with the wet ingredients. I start by cracking two eggs into the blender cup. (I totally understand that not everyone is comfortable ingesting raw eggs. Since I've never been able to resist cookie dough and brownie batter, I've had more than a normal person's fair share of raw eggs in my lifetime with no problem, so I'm willing to keep taking the risk. The eggs make the smoothie super creamy and extra filling, but it's also delicious without them.) Then, I add enough filtered water to bring the blender's contents to 6 oz. (If not using eggs, just start with 6 oz. water). Next, I add about 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream.

Then, the dry ingredients. Add the protein powder, cocoa, and Splenda, and cover and blend quickly until just mixed. This will keep the dry ingredients from sticking to the sides of the blender. Add the frozen berries and blend again to thoroughly mix them in. Add ice cubes a few at a time, blending each time you add them, until the smoothie reaches your desired thickness. A drinkable smoothie only needs few ice cubes in addition to the berries, but I usually add a couple of handfuls of ice and enjoy it with a spoon.

Do you drink shakes or smoothies as a part of your low-carb way of eating? I'd love to know how you make them and what your favorite "mix-ins" are!