A new take on an old favorite puts some muscle-building punch into the classic piña colada.
By Amanda Burrill, MS
The original gangster blended beverage is the piña colada, right? Let’s revisit the creamy flavor of tropical sin but make it applicable to us macro-observant gym warriors—this one doesn’t pack a gazillion calories, is protein rich, and tickles your libido. Sold!
I tend to like smoothies without too much fuss. If it ain’t broke, I don’t fix—just pump up the protein power. But amping up this classic libation flavor profile with two layers of coconut and a solid hit of ginger makes it two parts tropics and one part exotic—just what your shredded muscles are calling for during the dog days of summer.
This smoothie allows you to enjoy the major flavor players individually. Pineapple is sweet and sour, coconut is silky and lends a nice mouthfeel because of the good fats, and ginger makes you take pause as your tongue experiences a moment of sexy, spicy bliss.
And while I threatened simplicity by adding ginger, I have another trick up my sleeve (not that I know what sleeves are this time of year, suns out guns out). If time for an extra step permits, toast the coconut flakes to bring a smoky undertone reminiscent of grilled pineapple. Just heat a small skillet over medium-low heat, add the flakes, and stir until fragrant and lightly browned (three to five minutes should do the trick).
Because you want to limit your sugar and fat intake, use unsweetened coconut milk (not coconut cream), unsweetened coconut flakes, and unsweetened frozen pineapple chunks, if you go the frozen route. At this time of year finding fresh pineapple should be easy.
I dream of vacations where I swim up to the pool bar and order one of these. Is there a tropical vacation resort specifically for meatheads? If not, I’m going to invent it.
Time to drank!
½ cup cubed pineapples, fresh if possible
1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut flakes, preferably toasted
1-inch cube of ginger
1 tablespoon lucuma powder
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
6 ounces coconut milk
One handful ice
Total: 304 calories, 31 g carbs, 22 g protein, 10 g fat, 8 g fiber
Combine all ingredients in a blender, beginning with the liquid to avoid sticky protein-powder clumps. Blend until smooth.
Coconut does not taste healthy. It tastes rich and naughty, and for that reason I like to put it in all the things. In addition to its divine flavor, coconut contains a beneficial and easily absorbed fat called lauric acid that the body can turn to for energy. The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut are mostly saturated fats, but they are not the kind that raise cholesterol. In fact, they’ve been known to lower cholesterol and aid in the prevention of heart attack and stroke. I love not having strokes.
You don’t need much ginger to catch wind of its spicy, peppery, pungent nuance, and you also don’t need much of this underground rhizome plant to reap the health benefits—it’s that concentrated with active enzymes. Raw ginger can be steeped in tea—or thrown into this smoothie—to settle an upset stomach, and potent compounds called gingerols have anti-inflammatory qualities that can address muscle and joint pain, making it an ideal ingredient for those who have arthritis (meaning just about anyone who puts in work in the squat rack and has some resulting joint stiffness).
Known to Peruvians as “gold of the Incas,” lucuma is seen as a symbol of fertility and creation. The orangey pulpy fruit can be dried and milled into a fine powder that acts as a low-glycemic sweetener with a flavor reminiscent of maple syrup. So if your smoothie or dessert needs a nectarous boost, here’s a natural option. Also present are beta-carotene, iron, zinc, and vitamin B3. The ancients also lauded this ingredient for skin health and digestion.