Back in my corporate sports marketing days, I remember going out to coffee with a client and not ordering coffee.
This was a very big deal for me at the time. Because for years — decades, even — coffee was my thing.
Coffee was life.
In fact, I even thought people who didn't drink coffee were kind of weird in some way. You know — off.
Tea-drinkers, I thought. Yawn.
They weren't coffee-drinkers like me and others in my java-fueled tribe — people who were obviously cool and driven and hardcore.
Well, that all changed when I decided to order something different that one day, years ago. To be honest, I was over-caffeinated at that point. Another cup of coffee simply did not sound good.
So I asked the barista for a recommendation, and ended up with a chai tea latte.
And then just like that — I was a tea-drinker.
Chai on Life
I'll never forget the first sip of that first chai tea latte.
It was a complete departure from my americano and vanilla latte history.
The chai latte was spicy, warming, exotic — just what the doctor ordered for my bored, over-coffee'd tastebuds.
I was instantly hooked. The chai tea latte became my regular drink for many months. It got me through rainy Portland mornings and client meetings. It went with me on long drives to the Oregon coast, early flights across the country, and library story-times with my then infant son. Sometimes, I doubled down, and the chai latte became my afternoon pick-me-up as well.
I was chai on life.
But then I started getting more interested in health and wellness. And then one day, I decided to look up the nutrition facts on the Starbucks website.
I scrolled down the list…
Calories, 240: not so good but not terrible.
Fat: 3.5 grams. Again not so terrible.
Sugar: 43 grams.
Um, what now?
More than 40 grams???
Even then I knew that was a lot. It was significantly more than the sugar in a Snickers bar (27g), my other favorite treat at the time.
My go-to morning beverage — which sometimes served as breakfast itself — was really just dessert dressed up as breakfast.
In other words: mostly sugar, with a side of spice.
I knew it was time to say goodbye to my beloved chai latte.
So, back to the americano I went. This was around the time I started exploring healthier foods, so I also started drinking fresh juices and smoothies.
And even though I felt better about my food and drink choices at that point, I never forgot the siren song of the creamy chai tea latte.
The Coconut Chai Smoothie
Years later, I figured out that chai spices don't have to be limited to lattes — they can just as easily be incorporated into a smoothie. And a healthy smoothie, at that — one full of energizing nutrients, fiber, and healthy fats.
So I created a chai spice smoothie for my online cleanse participants, and it became one of my most popular recipes.
Then, when it came time to make a smoothie during one of my healthy eating segments on the More Good Day Oregon show, I knew the show's audience would love a healthy take on my old BFF, the chai tea latte.
And so, the Coconut Chai Smoothie was born — a satisfying and creamy smoothie that tastes like a chai latte — but has no added sugar, and is nutritious enough to energize you for the whole morning.
Why This Smoothie is Good For You
Full disclosure: this isn't a green smoothie.
Uh, oh. Are you disappointed?
Are you wondering — well how can it be so healthy?
Where's the kale?
Where's the spinach?
Where are the antioxidants?
Here's the deal: spices are PACKED with antioxidants. In fact, according to Nutritionfacts.org, “…in a comparison of the Antioxidant Content of 3,139 Foods, ounce for ounce dried herbs and spices average the greatest antioxidant punch of all!”
And this recipe includes cinnamon, clove and ginger — several of the top-ranked, most antioxidant-rich spices around.
Here are a few other ingredients that give this smoothie some nutrition super-powers…
- Coconut — A natural antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral, coconut is easy to digest and is a great source of energy for busy days. Coconut is also being researched for its potential beneficial effect on brain health, immune system support, cardiovascular health (raises HDL, the “healthy” cholesterol), and memory function.
- Cinnamon — This warming spice is high in antioxidants, and can soothe inflammation in the body. It also provides immune system support, and can help stabilize blood sugar.
- Clove — This is a natural source of eugenol, a potent anti-inflammatory. Clove is also high in manganese, which is good for healthy bones.
- Ginger — Ginger is well known for its anti-inflammatory benefits. It's also great for digestion and the immune system.
- Cardamom — Herbalists and natural medicine practitioners have used cardamom for centuries to treat digestive health and detoxification. It can also be useful for fresh breath and hormone balancing.
- Allspice — Like clove, allspice is also high in eugenol, and has been used by herbalists for digestive support and pain relief.
- Nutmeg — This spice has also been used by herbalists as a digestive aid. It also contains compounds believed to provide support for a healthy brain.
See? There's a lot going on in this innocent looking, un-green smoothie.
Rest assured, you can let go of your kale-guilt, and savor every last sip.
Superfood Boost: Brazil Nuts
The Coconut Chai Smoothie features yet another amazing ingredient: brazil nuts.
Brazil nuts are freaky-high in selenium, which is an important mineral needed for healthy blood circulation and protection against free radical damage. Selenium is also needed for immune system, hormone and thyroid health.
Selenium — and brazil nuts — can also have a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels — like statins, but without all of the negative side effects.
Here's what truly impressive: brazil nuts are so high in selenium, that you only need to consume 1 or 2 nuts to reap the benefits. In addition, they're so high in selenium, you don't want to overdo things. For example, don't eat them every day. Just add a couple of brazil nuts to your smoothie a few times a month.
Prep-Ahead Tips for Busy Schedules
This smoothie's easy to make, but you can make your smoothie making even faster by prepping ahead the night before.
Here are some quick tips:
- Make the Chai Spice blend ahead of time and store it in a jar, alongside your other go-to smoothie ingredients. This is what I call a smoothie bar.
- Soak the brazil nuts overnight in some water to help facilitate smooth blending.
- Soak the dates overnight in some water, or when you get up in the morning. Soaking for even a few minutes will help break them down for easy blending.
- Spoon the dry ingredients (spice blend, coconut, and flax seeds) into a small bowl the night before.
- Open up the coconut milk can and pour the contents into a mason jar with a lid. Keep in the fridge.
- This recipe serves 2 — you can share, or save some of the extra serving in an insulated cup for an afternoon pick-me-up.
Watch the Video
Want to see me make the Coconut Chai Smoothie, step-by-step? Great! Just click on the video graphic below to see my healthy eating segment on More Good Day Oregon.
Coconut Chai Smoothie — Get the Recipe
Ready to get started? Yay!
I recommend looking for the spices in your grocery store's bulk aisle. They're usually much less expensive that way.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. Feel free to share with any of your chai-loving friends, and then toast each other to a healthier breakfast.
To get the recipe, just click on the green box below. Salud!