Saturday, July 01, 2006

Smoothies For Non-Smoothie Lovers

Okay, I probably have the weirdest kids in America. Never have they been willing to have the traditional fruit smoothies pass their lips. In their early years I'd join friends at the bagel shop, and their toddlers would happily slurp down berry smoothies, mango smoothies, etc., while my child (and later children) absolutely refused.

I'll admit to being slightly smoothie challenged myself. Forget adding that scoop of protein powder - the slight grit will get to me every time. Don't make my smoothies out of yogurt (soy in our case). Never combine bananas and strawberries...you get the idea. These days my basic breakfast smoothie is orange juice, ground flax seed, a banana, and frozen mango chunks, all blended in a VitaMix until smooth. If I am feeling particularly rich I will add frozen organic peaches. I call it my "sunshine" smoothie.

However, from the time I first bought Marilyn Diamond's American Vegetarian Cookbook I have been hooked on banana shakes. At their most basic they are made of frozen bananas, a milk alternative, and a liquid sweetener (organic maple syrup in our case) if needed. Made just like that, and very thick (for a thick shake use a food processor, not the VitaMix) they stand in for soft serve ice cream.

But it is easy to take the banana shakes past that, to a place of divine decadence. Add a couple tablespoons of organic cocoa powder, and you've added flavor and antioxidants. Add peanut butter to that and the shake is superb. And when you break it down - frozen bananas, almond milk (preferably homemade, but we also use Pacific's Low Fat Original Almond Milk), cocoa powder, peanut butter, and a little bit of maple syrup or agave nectar (not me - that's one of my weird allergies) you have a shake (smoothie) that tastes like dessert but is a really decent breakfast. Did I mention that it is also gluten-free? If you aren't a whole foods purist you can even add protein powder (there are a couple of vegan choices out there, based on things like rice protein or hemp seed), which I did when I was pregnant even though I don't particularly like it.

To make these you need to keep frozen bananas in the freezer; they aren't the same made with fresh bananas and ice cubes. I always buy extra bananas, and this time of year instead of making muffins they go into the freezer (peeled and broken in half) when spotted and brown. The sweeter the frozen banana, the smoother the shake, and the less additional sweetener you'll need.

They aren't low calorie once you're adding nut butters, but in my boys' case the extra calories are welcomed.

3 comments:

Sara said...

We love that cookbook. It helped us transition to a vegan diet over 7 yrs ago. There are so many great recipe ideas in that book, especially the almondaise. ;-)

APKimberMama said...

That was our vegan transition cookbook as well, and we must have bought it when it first ame out in 1990. I'm sad to say that our veganism has been off and on in those years. Right now we are dairy free, but still use organic pastured (free roaming) eggs in our gluten free baking, and for J-Baby to eat. I'd like to believe that everyone can be healthy on a vegan diet, but J-Baby has so many food allergies and his gut has been so compromised that he has needed the protein he can get from eggs (he does eat beans and nuts, but eggs offer a no starch protein). As we get his gut healthier I will transition him back to a vegan diet. Maybe. The eggs we get are from very happy chickens on a small local farm (not even an egg farm).

Sara said...

Food allergies are a whole 'nother level of excitement, aren't they? Luckily we don't have the gluten issues. That would turn our world upside-down!