Low-Carb Avocado Smoothie
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Smooth and satisfying, this low-carb avocado smoothie (16 net grams carb) is easy to whip up for breakfast or a post-workout shake. Unlike most avocado shakes you’ll find, this one is savory, not sweet.
It’s warmed by the richness of tamari, and red pepper flakes give it an extra eye-opening pop. The green flecks from fresh spinach leaves add visual interest — and antioxidants — to this high-protein, whole-foods meal in a glass.
Note that this recipe may not be suitable for VLC, or very-low-carb, diets, because it totals 29 g carbohydrate, which is more than the daily total allowed on most VLC diets. One avocado has 14 g carb. However, 13 g of the carb are as dietary fiber (mostly from the avocado), leaving only 16 net grams carbohydrate.
If you prepare this with the optional protein powder, this provides 43 g protein. Without, it’s got 25 g protein.
I’m posting this recipe for a low-carb avocado smoothie (or avocado shake) in response to a low-carber named Lori who asked me for some low-carb breakfast ideas for when you get tired of eggs.
This avocado smoothie does have eggs in it, but they’re definitely not scrambled or fried. In fact, they’re raw. The only eggs I will buy are those from free-range, pastured hens who aren’t subjected to the unhealthy crowding and inhumane conditions that lead to the risks we’ve come to think of as being inherent to raw eggs. That is to say, I’m pretty sure eggs from healthy, happy hens won’t make me sick. Do I worry about consuming my eggs raw? Not a bit. I’ve eaten hundreds of raw eggs over the last few years, and, so far, so good.
I developed this smoothie recipe one breakfast time when I had plenty of avocados in the house and was looking for new ways to use them. I love avocados! I hit on the idea of a smoothie that would double as a low-carb breakfast recipe. So I looked in some of my cookbooks and dug around the Web, and I did find a few. But they all had one thing in common: they were all sweet.
Mostly they were sweet with sweet-flavored protein powders, fruits and honey. I don’t know about these guys, but I don’t turn to avocados for dessert as a general rule. (Of course, that’s what I said in my introduction to avocado ice cream, the sweet, creamy treat that proved me wrong on discounting avocados in sweet treats.) Besides, many of these smoothies had so much sweet stuff — and so little avocado — that they weren’t about the avocado; the avocado was just a bit player, not the star attraction.
I have another problem with this approach to a breakfast food. The custom of sweet breakfast is peculiarly American. (And look where it’s gotten us.) As a first-generation child, I grew up largely without the experience of a sweet breakfast, except when I’d occasionally get sweet kid’s cereal with milk, or oatmeal with apples or raisins. And even so, I was shocked the first time I saw another kid pouring sugar over his bowl of cereal. I was an adult before I knew that people made their French toast with a sweetened batter, and then poured syrup over it; my mother made it as a savory dish.
Sugar at breakfast time — even if it comes in the form of honey or fruit — is a bad idea, and probably the worst of all times of day to eat sweets. You start out on an empty stomach, and then shoot a bunch of glucose into your veins, essentially. A low-fat, high-carb breakfast, like cereal with nonfat milk and a glass of orange juice, is similarly bad, because the starchy grains in the cereal turn into glucose almost immediately. You are not doing your pancreas any favors by waking it up with a dose of glucose to deal with first thing in the morning. And I learned a long time ago that breakfasts like that make my brain foggy, and lead to hunger soon after.
On top of that, many of the avocado smoothie recipes I found called for low-fat or nonfat milk. These artificalized, industrialized, broken foods are no-nos in Vesna’s Fun Kitchen (see my statement on Ingredients and Nutrition). Or, they called for crushed ice — and just the thought of a chilly breakfast makes my throat hurt.
So I was pretty much on my own. I wanted something robust and satisfying, something with plenty of protein and fat to sate the appetite through to the early afternoon — the job with which I charge my breakfasts. I didn’t want some fruity concoction, but I didn’t want guacamole in a glass, either, so I nixed the ideas of adding lemon juice or tomato, though these ingredients work so well with avocado.
Cream and milk sounded like a good substrate to start with. A couple of eggs and scoop of unflavored whey protein powder (I use Jarrow brand, made with milk from cows not treated with rBGH/rBST — and it is not easy to find unflavored protein powder!) bolstered the mix. I whizzed it all together with avocado.
(If you don’t have unflavored whey protein powder, just leave it out. Flavored powder will knock off the whole flavor profile of this dish. I cannot recommend soy protein powder because of the health danges of industrialized soy products. Whey protein powder is pretty much industralized, too, and I can’t make a really good defence for it besides just liking it, so, if you wish, you might want to just leave it out.)
The result looked great, but tasted bland. I added some salt, and then more, and then more, but although I got it to where it no longer tasted like it needed salt, it still didn’t taste like much. Then I spied the red pepper flakes shaker. Now I was onto something. A generous few shakes of the red stuff, and the whole thing woke up. Next, I added some tamari. Along with a salty taste, tamari has deep, rich, warm, savory umami — the famous taste of tastiness that traditional fermented soyfoods, as well as slow-cooked foods and other traditional items, have.
I was almost there. A handful of spinach pushed the whole thing over the edge into swooning, luxurious, satisfaction, as it added brightness of flavor and visual interest.
Now, the low-carb, savory avocado smoothie has become one of my favorite quick breakfasts. Mmmm, enjoy.
Low-carb avocado smoothie
I like to pour this into a small zarf (that’s a handleless tea cup — and I’ve been waiting thirty years since I learned that word to work it into a sentence) and sip it, by portions, over the course of a morning.
Because of the raw eggs, though, I don’t recommend preparing this far ahead of time, or letting this sit around all day.
One avocado smoothie/avocado shake
Temperature and time
This recipe does not require cooking.
- 1 avocado, pitted and peeled
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cups whole milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 to 2 teaspoons tamari (soy sauce), or 1/8th teaspoon salt
- one to several shakes of red pepper flakes, to your taste
- Optional: 5 fresh spinach leaves or 10 fresh baby spinach leaves
- Optional: 1 scoop UNFLAVORED whey protein powder
Equipment that bears mentioning
In a nutshell
- Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until creamy.
- Put the cream and milk into a blender pitcher. Add the protein powder, if you’re using it. Blend together, alternating between lower and higher speeds, until the protein powder has been mixed in.
- Break the eggs into a separate small bowl, and then add them to the pitcher. The extra step of using a separate bowl is just in case you get some shell bits that you need to fish out. If you’re confident in your egg-cracking prowess, you can skip the separate bowl. Blend on medium-high speed until smooth, for two or three seconds.
- Drop in the avocado, tamari or salt and red pepper flakes. Add the spinach leaves, if you’re using them. Blend on medium-high speed for about ten seconds. The spinach leaves will turn into tiny, dark green flecks, while the shake will be, overall, thick and creamy.