2 scoops whey protein powder, vanilla flavor (2/3 cup) *
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 1/2 cups cold water
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 ounces cream cheese, cut up into small pieces, optional *
1/2 cup Da Vinci sugar free syrup, any flavor
1/4 cup granular Splenda or equivalent liquid Splenda
1 teaspoon strawberry extract, optional
4 ounces frozen strawberries, do not thaw
Ice cubes

In a small bowl, stir together the protein powder and xanthan gum. Pour the water, cream, cream cheese, syrup, sweetener and extract into a blender. Blend for a few seconds. Add the protein powder and blend briefly. With the blender on the highest speed, start feeding frozen strawberries through the hole in the blender cover. Once the berries are all in, start adding ice cubes, one at a time, until the drink is very thick and you can't fit any more into the blender.

This comes out so thick that you may need to pour it through a funnel into the glasses. Otherwise it will run down the side of the blender and make a huge mess. This actually made more than my blender could hold. I had to dump some into a glass to make more room to add more ice because I wanted it a bit colder.

Makes about 3 huge servings

* The carb counts for this recipe are based on whey protein powder that has 3 carbs per scoop (1/3 cup). I only put in the cream cheese because I had that much left and it needed to be used up. I don't know if it contributed much to the drink other than some extra carbs and calories. Next time I will leave it out and see how it turns out.

With granular Splenda:
Per Serving: 221 Calories; 12g Fat; 19g Protein; 10g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 9g Net Carbs

With liquid Splenda:
Per Serving: 213 Calories; 12g Fat; 19g Protein; 8g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 7g Net Carbs

The secret to this smoothie is the xanthan gum. It thickens it by suspending the crushed ice and lots of air bubbles. Without xanthan gum, you'll end up with more like a slushy where the ice ends up in a big icy chunk in the glass. I thought I might have used a little too much xanthan gum, but my husband said that the consistency was fine. It comes out almost like gelatin that hasn't completely set but much colder. Often times smoothies, and similar blender drinks, either come out too cold or they don't seem cold enough. The xanthan gum solves this problem very well. The drink comes out nice and cold but not so cold that it gives you "brain freeze".

I will experiment more with this basic smoothie formula. One problem was the weak flavor. I didn't want to add too many berries or more syrup. I think the trick might be to freeze some sugar free Kool-Aid or Crystal Light into ice cubes and also use either of those in place of the water. I will also try making a mocha version using chocolate protein powder and chilled coffee in place of the water and leave out the berries. I would also like to cut back on the Da Vinci syrup. I only added so much to try to boost the flavor. I'd rather use liquid Splenda to sweeten it and get more flavor using the ideas I mentioned.

Not sure about an ingredient you see here or where to buy it? Click here for information on just about any ingredient in this recipe.