Chocolate Chia Protein Smoothie

All workouts should end in chocolate, am I right? I'm talking dark, creamy, delicious, plant-based, energizing chocolate. Post-workout, I often find myself craving something a bit more substantial than my typical fruit + veg green smoothie. Cue the whole food, plant-based protein. And chocolate (duh). 

I get asked quite a bit about protein powders - Are they 'good' for you? Which ones are the best? How should you incorporate them into your diet? When sorting your way through the million and one different protein powders, keep in mind that whole foods are always the best choice for our bodies. 

When foods are consumed in their whole form (read: have not been pulverized, flavored, and processed), our bodies are able to recognize them as food and the nutrients are more bio-available. That super-charged whey protein isolate powder may boast more grams of protein than your bag of chia seeds, but what most people fail to realize is that our bodies do not absorb and utilize that type of processed protein easily. When it comes down to it, you'll probably end up absorbing more nutrients and energy from the cleaner, whole food option. For that reason, I'm not a huge advocate of the whole protein powder craze.

My second recommendation: go plant-based. Again, our bodies are able to utilize this type of food so much easier than animal by-products. Dairy (found in whey protein) is much more difficult for our bodies to digest, and because digestion is such an energy-sucking process as it is, these hard-to-digest foods often leave you feel tired and low energy. Fueling up post-workout is supposed to energize and revitalize you, not tire you out. Instead, I'll opt for a plant-based protein source made of nuts or seeds to free up my energy while still getting a hefty dose of the protein my body needs. By choosing plant-based proteins, you'll also ensure that your body remains in an alkaline pH state (the true key to health), as diary and animal protein leave the body in an overly acidic state.

Today's smoothie uses whole chia + hemp seeds as the main protein source, which are my two favorite options for smoothies. You can purchase protein powders made from these two seeds, but why forego the real thing for something processed, even if just minimally? I also included raw, unsweetened cacao (aka chocolate aka happiness) for an added boost of energizing minerals, as well as maca powder. Maca is a Peruvian root and an incredibly potent adaptogenic herb that helps our minds and bodies literally adapt to and offset stress. It's also deeply energizing and hormone regulating, and something I consume almost everyday. 


CHOCOLATE CHIA PROTEIN SMOOTHIE

Makes 1 serving