I just noticed that most of the smoothies on my blog include banana. Believe it or not, I do take the occasional banana break using mango, avocado, or other fruits for thickening power, but I am not going to apologize for my love of this sweet and highly accessible fruit. In fact, I am going to share my current favorite breakfast today that features, you guessed it, one big, sweet banana.
Why the obsession with bananas? Of course, the taste is awesome … and nothing naturally thickens and sweetens a healthy dairy-free smoothie/shake like frozen, ripe banana chunks. But my love runs deeper than mere aesthetics.
My whole life I have had a problem with severe calf cramps. Mid-stride during soccer matches (as a child and adult) they would suddenly seize leaving me frozen and writhing in pain. I frequently awoke in the middle of the night with extreme cramping (yes, my poor husband has been startled awake by my sudden outbursts on many occasions). But about five years ago I started my smoothie habit, eating at least one large banana every day. And what do you know, those calf cramps vanished. I mean *poof* – for good. The only time they have returned is mid-winter one year when I took a banana hiatus. Never again.
Many people argue that bananas aren’t actually the best source of potassium (a known cramp fighter). They are a “good” source, though in reality not a true top contender. But perhaps it is something more than just potassium … perhaps it is the whole nutrient banana package that somehow works.
Though one might think consistent change would be needed to keep things interesting with the old banana, to me it is a comfort food and I have comfort smoothies. I used to be completely loyal to the True Blue Smoothie, but the past year has brought on an intense love of peanut butter. You may have spotted my addiction via the Uber-Rich Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Peanut Butter Chunks (definitely a good recipe for this time of year), my PB & J Thumbprints (yes, no bake!), or the Nutty Oatmeal Blender Waffles (I couldn’t resist tossing PB in my favorite waffles).
These are all nice treats, but on a daily basis, my cravings are quite simple. Very simple in fact. Below is my favorite smoothie “recipe” for the past year (and we are talking the whole year – notice the snow in the background of the photo below - that was actually May though). I hesitated on posting it because it is so basic and so loose, but I love it, I CRAVE it. I usually go for max PB and make the smoothie super-thick (almost soft-serve style), with as little milk alternative as possible.
Peanut Butter and Banana Cravings Smoothie
This really isn’t a recipe in the strictest sense of the word, but rather a simple idea. I always vary the amount of banana and pb depending on my cravings, and sometimes a dash of stevia is in order. If I think I need something nutrition-wise, one or more of the add-ins listed may make their way in.
- Frozen Ripe Banana Chunks (I use about two handfuls – at least one large banana, maybe a bit more sometimes)
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons Creamy Natural Peanut Butter (I use unsalted and sometimes add a tiny, tiny pinch of salt, but salted could be good too)
- 3/4 Cup to 1-1/2 Cups Unsweetened Vanilla or Plain Almond Milk or Coconut Milk Beverage (feel free to use your favorite milk alternative – regular sweetened versions will of course up the indulgence factor nicely and you can even use chocolate!)
- 1/8 to 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- Sweetener to taste (optional – I use a dash of stevia or a little maple or honey if the banana is under-ripe, but otherwise, I go without)
Place the frozen banana, pb, and 3/4 cup of milk alternative in your blender. If you have a powerful blender, whiz away. Less powerful like mine? Pulse to break up the ingredients, and then blend. If it is too thick, add milk alternative a little at a time until it blends well and reaches your desired consistency.
If you have a wimpy blender, avoid the temptation to throw a bunch of liquid in too soon. Too much and the blades won’t catch all of the chunks – they will simply whiz around. You can always add more liquid once it is smooth. I prefer my smoothies spoonable, so I add as little as possible.
Blend in the cinnamon, sweetener if using, and any other add-ins you desire (see some of my suggestions below).
My Favorite PB & B Add-ins:
- A Scoop of Chocolate Superfood Mix (Kidz or Adult) from Amazing Grass
- A Big Fistful of Spinach
- Some Ground Flaxseed
- Cocoa or Carob Powder (1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon)
- Protein Powder (we like pure egg white protein powder or vanilla hemp protein powder, but your favorite will do)
Yields 1 nutty serving