Healthy Chocolate Milkshakes

Healthy Chocolate Milkshakes
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Recipes for ways to incorporate cocoa into your diet without the saturated fat or sugar of chocolate.

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So, turning the breakfast smoothie I described earlier into a chocolate smoothie by adding cocoa powder makes it even healthier. Here’s my annual recipe for the year: Dutch processed cocoa (try to find fair-trade, of course), date sugar, frozen dark red cherries, and unsweetened or DHA-fortified soy milk.  

Now date sugar is not sugar. It’s a whole food; whole dates just pulverized. So that and blackstrap molasses are really the only two healthful sweeteners.

So—cocoa, date sugar, frozen berries, and plant-based milk. And you can put the ground flax seeds in for a nutrient boost and to thicken it up. Put that all in a blender, and we have a chocolate milkshake that’s actually good for us. Literally health promoting. Meaning the more chocolate milkshake you drink, the healthier you’ll be. Take out the berries, and you can heat it up for healthy hot chocolate. Or instead of the soy milk, try silken tofu, and you’ve got instant chocolate pudding. The more chocolate pudding you eat, the healthier you are. Kids absolutely love it. It’s been a good year in nutritional science.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

So, turning the breakfast smoothie I described earlier into a chocolate smoothie by adding cocoa powder makes it even healthier. Here’s my annual recipe for the year: Dutch processed cocoa (try to find fair-trade, of course), date sugar, frozen dark red cherries, and unsweetened or DHA-fortified soy milk.  

Now date sugar is not sugar. It’s a whole food; whole dates just pulverized. So that and blackstrap molasses are really the only two healthful sweeteners.

So—cocoa, date sugar, frozen berries, and plant-based milk. And you can put the ground flax seeds in for a nutrient boost and to thicken it up. Put that all in a blender, and we have a chocolate milkshake that’s actually good for us. Literally health promoting. Meaning the more chocolate milkshake you drink, the healthier you’ll be. Take out the berries, and you can heat it up for healthy hot chocolate. Or instead of the soy milk, try silken tofu, and you’ve got instant chocolate pudding. The more chocolate pudding you eat, the healthier you are. Kids absolutely love it. It’s been a good year in nutritional science.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Doctor's Note

For some of the most recent videos on the health benefits of cocoa:

How dates can contribute to our cardiovascular health:

And for more on the health benefits of cherries:

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

56 responses to “Healthy Chocolate Milkshakes

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    1. Hi, can you help on the sugar question. I know you have lots of videos on the topic but I am a little confused. What is the best thing to use in recipes…is it date sugar or erythritol?
      And is xylitol ok to use after you eat in mints or gum (just about 5 grams a day total)? I heard it is good to help prevent cavities. Thanks for any help!!




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  1. In a previous video, it was stated that “regular” cocoa powder was healthier than the processed “dutched” cocoa powder, but this recipe states dutched. I prefer the unprocessed which I believe to be healthier.




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    1. Yummy–what a great name to post under a video on chocolate! :) You are absolutely right that alkali-processed “dutched” cocoa is not as healthy (See Update on Chocolate for the graph and Healthiest Chocolate Fix for some other chocolate comparisons). Dutched cocoa can have as few as half the phytonutrients, but that just means you have to use 50% more! Making things even more chocolatey has never been a problem for me, and I just like the taste so much better that my household uses Dutch, but if the taste of regular cocoa works for you, then go for it–you’re getting even more benefit per spoonful!




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      1. Great info. I am not a chocoholic, but it is fun to have something like this now and then. Nice to find a healthy recipe. I don’t like to use the non dairy drinks so whiz up a couple frozen bananas and spring water to simulate milk. I bought a bag of powdered carob. So far I am not impressed with the “chocolate” flavor. Maybe I didn’t use enough, but thought you might have some experience in using it in a similar drink. would love an idea about how much to use if you or anyone has some experience. Thanks, Lynn




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      2. Thanks, Dr Greger for this video!!

        I agree with yummy, and go for the natural non-alkalized cocoa powder… more of the phytonutrients!!




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      3. Dr Greger! As resourceful as you are, how can you even suggest Silk Milk? Here is a link- https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/why-oca-calling-boycott-silk-soymilk

        Commitment to Organics and Sustainability:

        Recently, Dean Foods reformulated their Silk product line converting almost all their products to “natural” (conventional) soybeans. They did this, quietly, without telling retailers or changing the UPC code numbers on the products. Many retailers have reported to us that they didn’t find out about the change until their customers noticed and complained.
        To add insult to injury, not only did the price of Silk products not go down when they switched to cheaper conventional soybeans, but they now reintroduced three products with organic soybeans and raised the price on those. Greedy profiteering plain and simple.
        Dean Foods tells its customers that it partners with Conservation International to source soybeans that are produced in a sustainable, socially responsible and ethical manner. Dean Foods has not made these standards of sustainability available to its customers-unlike the USDA organic standards, customers have no way of accessing their exact definition of sustainability, which remains unclear. We question why they do not simply purchase USDA-certified organic soybeans.
        Production with a Neurotoxic Chemical:

        Silk’s Light soymilk, as well as its “Heart Health” soymilk, is made with hexane-extracted soy flour instead of whole soybeans. Hexane is a highly explosive volatile solvent. It is a byproduct of gasoline refining and a neurotoxin. Soybeans used in Silk’s Light and Heart Health soymilk are immersed in this neurotoxic petrochemical to make soy flour, which is listed as the main ingredient in these Silk products.
        Hexane is classified as a “hazardous air pollutant” by the Environmental Protection Agency and emissions are regulated for their contribution to air pollution. Food processors are the country’s major hexane emitters. When The Cornucopia Institute sent samples of hexane-extracted soy flour to an independent lab for residue testing, residues as high as 21 parts per million were found. The effects on consumer health of repeated and long-term consumption of hexane-extracted soy ingredients have not been thoroughly studied. An extraction process that does not involve hexane is available, but using hexane is cheaper for the processor.
        Silk’s creamers and Silk Plus Omega-3 DHA contain other minor hexane-extracted ingredients-soy lecithin and algal oil, respectively. Moreover, the Cornucopia Institute has received reports from parents of toddlers and children who experienced diarrhea and stomach upset from the DHA used in Silk (Life’s DHA by Martek Biosciences Corporation). This is the same additive, found in infant formula (extracted from algae and soil fungus), that has been linked to severe adverse reactions in infants. (Cornucopia has obtained adverse reaction reports from the FDA verifying this unfortunate health side-effect.) The FDA has never tested the safety of Life’s DHA, relying instead on safety data supplied by the same corporation that has a financial interest in selling and placing these additives in foods. The FDA did, however, indicate serious reservations regarding the safety of these additives.




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    1. Good question becochic! Milk does seem to block the beneficial effects of both tea and chocolate (and even berries, see http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/nutrient-blocking-effects-of-dairy, but though soymilk may block the benefits of tea (at least in a petri dish, see http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/soymilk-suppression, no word on its effects on other foods. Until we know more, another plant-based milk (such as almond) is a reasonable choice. The calcium, though, would not be expected to interfere with phytonutrient absorption.




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  2. Does anyone have a recipe for this or approximate amounts? I am really bad at just throwing things together – I need a jumping off point! Thanks in advance.




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    1. You can go to the more recent video, A Better Breakfast aired on 1/19/12 see under Amla under browse all topics. Rough start for you 1 cup of plant based milk(soy, almond, rice, etc.), 1/2 cup frozen berries(cherries, blueberries), 2 tsp of cocoa powder and if you add sweetener consider date sugar. The series on Amla suggests you add 1 tsp of Amla powder(we ordered ours online as had trouble finding in our location) plus 1-2 tsp of ground flax meal. Hope this proves to be a good start. Keep tuned to NutritionFacts.org for the latest in ideas for your smoothies…




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      1. How much date sugar? I made this and it was terrible but I didn’t add the fruit and guessed on the sugar. I’d like to try it again with some more accurate measurements. I’m terrible at cooking. haha




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    2. I used one cup of vanilla flavored unsweetened almond milk, 4 fresh Rainier cherries, 2 rounded TB cocoa powder, one dried medjool date and two small ice cubes, blended it and it was delicious.




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  3. You say “without the saturated fat of chocolate”, but cocoa powder is still high in saturated fats. Could you explain why it’s ok to eat cocoa powder even though it contains saturated fat?




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  4. I came up with this Vegan Chocolate Shake years ago as a way to meet daily Omega-3 needs, and would never go a day without having one:

    2 tbsp. Whole Organic Flax Seeds
    1/4 cup Whole Organic Raw Almonds
    2 heaping tbsp. Ah!Laska Organic Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
    1/8 rounded tsp. NuNaturals NuStevia Pure White Stevia Extract
    (Baker’s Cocoa and Stevia… a marriage made in Heaven!)
    1 cup cold Edensoy Organic Unsweetened Soy Milk
    2-1/2 cups Distilled Water (for soaking the nuts & seeds)

    Soak Flax Seeds 12 hours in 1 cup water, last 2 hours in fridge
    Soak Almonds 12 hours in 1-1/2 cup water, last 2 hours in fridge
    Pour Flax Seeds, soak-water and all, into blender and start blender
    Drain, rinse & drain the soaked almonds and add to running blender
    Add remaining ingredients to running blender and blend till smooth

    Pour and enjoy right away, while the oils are fresh. Mood boost guaranteed!




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    1. This is right up my alley… and I use the stevia product you mention above!! I love it and use it in cooking, baking, beverages, deserts, bbq sauce, etc… yummy!




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      1. Soaking activates the enzymes, making them more digestible. They also blend a little smoother. I skip the soaking when I’m away from home, though, for the sake of convenience. (Apologies for the delayed response!)

        FYI, I’ve modified my recipe since first writing this: Can no longer get the purest Stevia extract, so I double up on the Stevia and add a heaping tbsp. of Date Sugar. Also, instead of 2 heaping tbsp. cocoa powder, I now use 1 heaping tbsp. cocoa powder + 1 heaping tbsp. raw organic cacao nibs, for a deeper chocolate flavor.




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  5. Hello! This sounds delicious. What are you views on combining sweet and fat? Many will tell you it is not a good idea… Would love to know what you think… Thank you for all the very very helpful info on this fine page!!!




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    1. I make Sacred Chocolate and we use alternative sweeteners such as maple, Inulin, and Erythritol. So, there are alternatives out there.




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  6. this is great doc…. soy is controversial and said to raise estrogen levels… can you please help. You make so many things clearer… it would be great if you could talk on this as well.




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  7. You suggest using soy milk here, but isn’t soy a problem in the USA because it is nearly all GM? How about if I use almond milk instead?




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    1. Susan: I don’t think there is anything wrong with using almond milk instead. However, if you want to avoid GMOs and if you want to get a good serving of soy in your diet, you could get organic soy milk. That would(should) be free of GMOs.

      Also, if you happen to live near a stored called “Trader Joes”, they say that any food produced under their brand is free of GMOs whether the food is listed as organic or not. (At least this was true at the point I read it. Don’t know how far into the future this will be true.) I know that there is a Trader Joes brand soy milk. So, that is an option too.




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      1. I don’t think Trader Joe’s can be trusted not to have GMOs in foods that aren’t organic. Check out the Food Babe website (http://foodbabe.com/2013/08/07/what-is-trader-joes-hiding/) for her report on Trader Joe’s items.

        I buy supplements from a company that sells many different brands, only to doctors, nutritionists, and other professionals and they even have some GMO items because of manufacturing processes. GMOs are everywhere, and almost impossible to avoid. Read totally impossible if you ever eat out.




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  8. Awesome. I’ve been wondering how I could sweeten up the bitterness of my cacao powder without using processed sugars. Now I know how to and more. Thanks Dr. Greger!




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  9. The healthy chocolate shake sounds great but do remember: cocoa powder contains caffeine. If you use more than about one tablespoon, then you are getting into the territory of coffee, as long as you know that and are ok with it.




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  10. One frozen banana, one cup non dairy milk, one tablespoon cocoa powder. Blend. I use homemade cashew milk and sometimes I’ll add a couple of dates and some ice cubes to make it extra thick and rich.




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  11. Embarrassing! And have I read somewhere that this is a non-commercial site. And again, haven’t you heard about food combining?! Sugar with protein and… more protein (flax)?! Wholesome food indeed!




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    1. Hello Predrag1970, I see how this can be misinterpreted, but please note we are not advising anyone to choose these brands of soymilk, date sugar, or cocoa powder. The idea is more about giving practical advice, with visuals, on how to include these healthful foods (and potentially cure a sweet-tooth). If you have others that you’ve found helpful and delicious you are free to discuss. I don’t care one way or the other what brands people choose, so long as they simply choose healthful foods.

      Thanks for your comment our member feedback is important!
      Joseph




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  12. Please, just post the recipe in the usual recipe format and state how many servings: i.e. 1 T date sugar, 2 T cocoa, etc. Then the instructions. It really makes it easier. Also, I would vastly prefer the daily postings from Dr. Greger in transcript form, rather than video. Most of the time, there is now “see transcript” button. I absorb material better if it’s in writing. In this way, I can decide to skim the article, or else put it on my favorites — or post it on facebook. Thanks for your consideration.




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    1. Dr. Greger has done videos on soy that may reassure you on its safety for most women. Here’s one: soy and breast cancer, but you can search in the search box at the top of this page for more. The bottom line is that non GMO soy is safe for women; in fact, in countries where there is high soy consumption, there are lower rates of breast cancer. Hope that helps!




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  13. Hi Dr. Greger – I’ve read that alkalizing (Dutch Process) cocoa takes away significant amounts of flavanol in chocolate. Here is a paper that talks about it. If you find it to be legitimate, you might want to alter your video to specify using non-Dutch process cocoa.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18710243
    NCBINCBI
    J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Sep 24;56(18):8527-33. doi: 10.1021/jf801670p. Epub 2008 Aug 19.
    Impact of alkalization on the antioxidant and flavanol content of commercial cocoa powders.
    Abstract
    Cocoa is a food ingredient that is important for the contribution of flavor to foods but is also associated with potential health benefits. The chemistry thought to be responsible for its cardiovascular health benefits is the flavanol (flavan-3-ol) antioxidants. Evidence from the literature indicates that natural cocoas are high in flavanols, but when the cocoa is processed with alkali, also known as Dutch processing or Dutching, the flavanols are substantially reduced.




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  14. Hi!

    I keep asking this question about the saturated fat in cocoa, and I am not getting any answers :(

    In “How not to die” dr. Greger says that refining cocoa beans is actually a good thing, because it removes the saturated fat. But in one of his videos here he says that processed cocoa is not so good and he recommends raw cocoa powder.

    So I bought some raw, unskimmed cocoa, and I checked the nutritional information, and it does contain saturated fats, around 30%. So my question is: what kind of cocoa should I be using to get all the good stuff and antioxidants from it but not the saturated fat?

    I’d really appreciate a straight-up answer.

    Thank you.
    Peter




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  15. DR. JOE GONZALES R.D. in the UPDATE on CHOCOLATE VIDEO . DR. G. state process cocoa is less healthy the process cocoa ex dutch cocoa.. This is not followed in the video HEALTHY CHOCOLATE MILKSHAKES. In this one he is proposing fair exchange dutch processed cocoa. Please explain.




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    1. Dr. Joe Gonzales R.D. was a person that Dr. G ( Greger) had hired to field questions for him. My questions were for him or you Ben about the 2 videos that were put out by Dr. Greger that seem on the surface to be stating 2 opposite things about cocoa the being that we should not use dutch processed cocoa and the other where he states he uses dutch process cocoa




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