black forest smoothie bowl
AIP,  Breakfast,  Dairy Free,  Good Mood Food,  Lunch,  Paleo,  Smoothie,  Vegan,  Vegan,  Vegetarian,  Whole 30

Black Forest Smoothie Bowl (GF/DF/Vegan/Paleo/AIP)

I love the chocolate and cherry combination. Black Forest ice cream was always a childhood treat at my house, which was my inspiration for this incredible superfood smoothie bowl. Loaded in fresh fruits and veggies, blood stabilizing protein and healthy fats, we eat this as a meal replacement in my house. The whole family enjoys it and it’s secretly loaded in superfoods: dark cherries, cacao, and maca.

Good Mood Food

Did you know that 95% of Serotonin is made in your gut, not your brain? Yup, our healthy gut bacteria helps make neurotransmitters that regulate our mood and emotions. Which means, our microbiome is directly proportional to the health of our brains. This is what we call the gut + brain axis.

And that’s exactly why nutritional deficiencies are linked to almost every psychiatric disorder (not to mention autoimmune diseases, metabolic disorders and allergies. Add chronic stress and a poor diet and now you’ve got leaky gut syndrome which is associated with low grade inflammation, depression and anxiety.

But, heal the gut, balance the body, heal the brain. Such a good reminder that what we eat directly affects how we feel. This black forest smoothie bowl is loaded with gut and brain healthy ingredients to keep you feeling good all day long. And once you’re done with this, check out some of my other Good Mood Food recipes here.

Health Benefits of Cacao

Cacao may just seem like a way to get a healthy chocolate flavor into your recipes, but did you know how good it is for your body?

  • High in flavonoids, polyphenols and antioxidants
  • Shown to lower blood pressure
  • Increases blood flow to the brain improving cognitive functioning
  • Aides in preventing blood clots which can lead to stroke
  • Heart protective
  • Improves insulin sensitivity
  • Lowers inflammation
  • Boosts alertness
  • Improves energy
  • Promotes feelings of contentment without addiction
  • May assist in weight loss
  • May help prevent and fight cancer cells
  • May help people with asthma

Health Benefits of Maca

Maca is a root, sometimes referred to as Peruvian ginseng, that mainly grows in the central Andes of Peru. It is a cruciferous vegetable related to broccoli, cauliflower and kale. Studies on this ancient root are new, but the results are show some promising health benefits.

  • Enhances libido in men and women
  • Improves fertility in men
  • May relieve menopausal symptoms in women
  • May help prevent bone lost in post menopausal women
  • Can enhance mood and reduce anxiety
  • May improve endurance performance in athletes
  • May improve cognitive function and was in fact, typically used by Native Peruvians to improve their children’s performance in school
  • May reduce prostate size in men with BPH

Health Benefits of Cherries

Cherries also have multiple health benefits. To read about them, see my post here.

A few notes if you are AIP:

You can use some simple swaps to make this delicious smoothie bowl autoimmune friendly.

Instead of Almond milk, use coconut milk. Instead of almond yogurt, use coconut milk yogurt. You can replace Nuzest protein powder for a vanilla collagen protein powder. And you can add some coconut butter instead of cashew butter for richness, or just omit altogether. Viola! An AIP friendly smoothie bowl!

Now that you are excited about all these nourishing ingredients, gather your ingredients and get ready to make this incredible mood boosting smoothie bowl!

black forest smoothie bowl

Black Forest Smoothie Bowl

The ultimate GOOD. MOOD. FOOD. This bowl is loaded in nourishing ingredients that is healthy for your body, but tastes like ice cream.
Course smoothie


  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder I used Nuzest in Smooth Vanilla
  • 3 tbs organic cacao powder
  • 1 banana, frozen
  • 1/2 cup frozen riced cauliflower
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup frozen cherries
  • 2 tbs organic maca powder


  • 1/4 cup frozen cherries
  • 2 tbs cashew butter
  • 2 tbs unsweetened almond milk yogurt
  • 2 tbs cacao nibs


  • In a high speed blender add all smoothie ingredients. Blend well. Add more almond milk if it's too thick for your liking.
  • Pour into a bowl and top with desired toppings. I listed mine. Enjoy!


Recipe by Liz at
Simple swaps for AIP folks:
  • Swap almond milk for coconut milk
  • Omit cashew butter
  • Use vanilla collagen protein powder instead of vegan pea protein
  • Swap unsweetened coconut yogurt instead of almond milk yogurt 
pinterest smoothie bowl


Cacao Powder: Health Benefits and More

Neuroscience Biobehavior 2013. Chocolate and the brain: neurobiological impact of cocoa flavanols on cognition and behavior.

Nutrition Review. 2013. Effects of chocolate on cognitive function and mood: a systematic review.

Front Pharmacol. 2013. Immunomodulatory properties of cacao extracts – potential consequences for medical applications.

Antioxidants. 2017. Effects of Cocoa Antioxidants in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.

Arch Intern Med. 2012. Association Between More Frequent Chocolate Consumption and Lower Body Mass Index.

Phyotherapy Research. 2014. Dark chocolate: an obesity paradox or a culprit for weight gain?

Molecular Nutrition Food Research. 2014. Molecular mechanisms underlying the potential antiobesity-related diseases effect of cocoa polyphenols.

Food Chem Toxicology. 2013. Potential for preventive effects of cocoa and cocoa polyphenols in cancer.

Diseases. 2016. Preventive Effects of Cocoa and Cocoa Antioxidants in Colon Cancer.

Immunopath Pharmacol. 2014. Unsweetened natural cocoa has anti-asthmatic potential.

Critical Review Food Science. 2014. Cocoa and Human Health: From Head to Foot–A Review.

Front Nutrition. 2017. Cocoa, Blood Pressure, and Vascular Function.

Andrologia. 2002. Effect of Lepidium meyenii (MACA) on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in adult healthy men.

BMC Complimentary Alternative Medicine. 2010. Maca (L. meyenii) for improving sexual function: a systematic review.

Asian Androl. 2001. Lepidium meyenii (Maca) improved semen parameters in adult men.

Maturitas. 2016. The use of maca (Lepidium meyenii) to improve semen quality: A systematic review.

Maturitas. 2011. Maca (Lepidium meyenii) for treatment of menopausal symptoms: A systematic review.

Comparative Study. 2010. Effects of different varieties of Maca (Lepidium meyenii) on bone structure in ovariectomized rats.

Randomized Controlled Trial. 2015. Maca reduces blood pressure and depression, in a pilot study in postmenopausal women.

CNS Neuroscience. 2008. A Double-Blind, Randomized, Pilot Dose-Finding Study of Maca Root (L. Meyenii) for the Management of SSRI-Induced Sexual Dysfunction.

Ethnopharmacol. 2009. A pilot investigation into the effect of maca supplementation on physical activity and sexual desire in sportsmen.

Review. 2009. Lepidium meyenii (Maca): a plant from the highlands of Peru–from tradition to science.

The Simplified Guide to the Gut Brain Axis

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