Recently I was digging through my assignments from when I was in school for my nutrition consultant cert. I came across this recipe that I created during the sports nutrition module, and I decided that it had to be my next blog post. (I don't know how I ever forgot about it in the first place-ice cream, chocolate, highly nutritious?!)
This ice cream recipe is delicious, easy to make, and just in time for summer. Let's take a look at why it's beneficial to athletes (straight from the text of my school report!). Even if you're not an athlete, you can still enjoy the nutrition that this yummy recipe has to offer.
Maintaining proper sodium to potassium ratio is key for cell health as well as maintaining fluid and PH balance within the body. A healthy ratio of potassium to sodium intake is about 5:1, but most Americans are consuming an excess of sodium and not near enough potassium, creating a ratio of something like 1:20! Getting some extra potassium in the diet will help improve heart health, reduce fatigue, relieve muscle aches/soreness, reduce water retention/bloating, and is especially beneficial for those who exercise and sweat often. Bananas seem to be the obvious source of K, but did you know that 1 avocado has almost 4 x the amount of a banana?
This recipe is also a great source of Magnesium. Magnesium is vital to heart function, energy production, metabolism, and muscle contraction. Mg aids in healthy muscle function, prevents cramping, and can ease symptoms of PMS. Mg is a natural relaxer as well. It can improve sleep quality, and all the athletes I know could use a few more zzz’s!
Antioxidants and Flavanoids
What would ice cream be without chocolate?! Cacoa is probably best known for its antioxidant and flavonoid content, both of which have ant-aging and cancer fighting properties. As healthy as exercise is, it produces a lot of free radicals in the body. This means we need more antioxidants to clean that stuff up so it doesn't do damage to our tissues. Also, a single ounce of cocoa powder contains 4% DV calcium, 35% magnesium, 54% manganese, 5 grams of protein, and 9 grams of fiber.
Keeping inflammation under control is key for sports recovery. Chronic inflammation can lead to muscle degeneration, increased viral infections, gut problems, and even arthritis or tendinitis. Zucchini is a surprising anti-inflammatory food because of the omega 3 content in the seeds and the caretnoids like lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene found in the skin.
This ice cream is packed with fiber which helps create satiety and improves gut motility. The healthy fats and fiber help balance blood sugar, keeping energy and moods stable while also preventing excess fat storage on the belly. If you choose to boost your ice cream even more with protein and collagen (see recipe below) you gain the added benefit of joint health, muscle building and repair, and healthy hair, skin, and nails.
Athlete's Ice Cream
Time: 5 minutes
- 2 medium sized ripe bananas
- 1/2 avocado
- 1/2 cup chopped zucchini, peel and seeds included
- 1 heaping Tbsp cacao or cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- Honey, agave, or maple syrup to taste (optional, the banana will give it some sweetness already)
- Pinch of sea salt (also optional, but very tasty!)
Remove the bananas and avocado from their peels and cut into pieces. Put both in freezer overnight or until frozen. Once they are completely frozen, put them in a blender or food processor with the other ingredients and blend until you have a nice smooth consistency, about 30-60 seconds. Some food processors tend to heat up quickly, and if this is the case with yours, give it time to cool off briefly in between 10-15 second pulses. This recipe is best eaten right away, as it doesn't hold the same consistency after being stored in the freezer.
Addition ingredients/toppings: I like to add a half scoop of whey protein and a serving of vanilla flavored collagen in mine. When adding protein and collagen, you may need to throw in a splash of water or other liquid to help absorb the extra powder. Other great additions include toppings such as nuts, seeds, dried or fresh fruit, or dark chocolate chips.