Okay, we all know I love smoothies. My freezer is stocked with freshly frozen fruit, veggies, and coconut milk ice-cubes, and I always have oats, protein powder, nuts, and seeds at the ready. Depending on what I need, I can whip one up for a powerful breakfast, a pre-workout energizer or post-workout recovery, or even add a scoop of ice cream for an easy dessert. Is there no end to the versatility of a simple smoothie?
For the past couple weeks, this has been my go-to… I’ve guzzled one down almost every day, and each morning I wake up looking forward to it. Packed full of complete protein, healthy fats and carbs, amino acids, and plenty of vitamins and minerals, this is without a doubt one of my favorite concoctions. It tastes almost like dessert, but just one glass keeps me full and energized for hours. And did I mention it’s vegan, gluten-free, and easily made raw? With all the natural sugars and protein, this has become my favorite pre or post run treat.
The creation of this powerhouse beverage came at the perfect time, too…
I’d been looking forward to this past weekend for months, in anticipation of The Ann Arbor Color Run. What is the Color Run? It’s “The Happiest 5k on the Planet”, that’s what!
At every kilometer mark, volunteers throw handfuls of powdered color at the runners (or joggers, or walkers – anyone can do a Color Run!). At the finish line, everyone comes through with big smiles. Then they walk on over to the post-run festival, where there’s music and water waiting for them. After the race, everyone tears open a packet of color and flings it in the air… or at each other… and by the end of the day there’s nothing but a crowd of colorful faces.
Unfortunately, my knee wasn’t up to running… so rather than walk it, I passed my ticket off to The Brother, who gladly stepped up in my place.
This is just before the race, standing in a sea of 15,000 white t-shirts and smiling faces.
Twenty minutes later, he’s through the finish line and on to the festival already taking place at Riverside Park.
He may have tried to call truce, but I didn’t let go of the chance to retaliate.
And then retaliate again…
Needless to say, we were both pretty colorful by the end of things. Not being in the race didn’t stop me from being covered head to toe, and despite taking precautions I only just finished having my camera carefully cleaned. At last, I can breathe easy and change lenses again.
As much fun as race day was, it required The Brother and myself to be up and ready by 6:30am… aka, monkey’s-butt o’clock. Or,” you-mean-to-tell-me-this-hour-happens-twice-in-one-day AM”.
So, as any good sister would, I got up an extra fifteen minutes early and made a tall glass of pick-me-up to fuel us through the morning.
It was well recieved, and much appreciated.
The ingredients are simple, but there are a few key factors in making this shake so freakin’ amazing. Let’s do a quick rundown:
Chia seeds – these little seeds aren’t much bigger than poppy seeds, but they pack a strong nutritional punch. Just one ounce contains 4 grams of high quality protein, essential amino fatty acids, and more than 6 grams of fiber! On top of that these little gems have phosphorus, manganese, calcium, and potassium, similar to flax, but without the oily flavor. Plus, they can be used to help thicken shakes, puddings, or porridge.
Hemp seeds – it surprises me how few people know about hemp seeds, and even more to find out that most of these mighty little seeds are used in bird feed. No wonder birds have the energy to fly thousands of miles! Hemp seeds are considered one of the few non-animal sources of ‘complete’ protein, boasting more healthy fats and omaga-3s than any other nut or seed per ounce. 3 TBSP contains a whopping 10 grams of protein, plus B vitamins, iron, magnesium, vitamin E, zinc, and manganese. And with a light, nutty flavor they’re easy to mix into most any meal.
Raw cacao – raw cacao powder, and raw cacao nibs, have long been used for medicinal purposes. Cacao contains high amounts of antioxidants, magnesium, and a chemical called theobromine – similar to caffeine, but far more gentle on the nervous system (for humans – incidentally, it is the reason chocolate should not be fed to dogs or other pets). Small amounts of dark chocolate are also thought to lower bad cholesterol, increase circulation, improve brain function, and more.
Okay, so you can skip taking your multi-vitamin today, because this smoothie not only has what you need, but also the fats and proteins necessary to process and absorb it.
I also use a protein powder in my smoothie, to really keep me going through my day, or to help recover after a long run or workout. You can use whatever powder you like, but this (Raw Protein from Garden of Life) is my current favorite. Not only is it entirely raw, vegan, and gluten-free, but it doesn’t bog down my smoothies with too much chalkiness. Plus, it isn’t full of sweeteners and other fillers… calorie for calorie it is nearly 100% protein, coming from a wide variety of sprouted seeds and grains. It also has a blend of probiotics to aid in digestion, and a healthy dose of vitamin D for good measure. I like to buy the original, unflavored powder, because I can easily doctor it up for whatever I’m making.
All right, enough gushing… on to the smoothie!
Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Power Smoothie
Vegan, Gluten-Free, soy-free, and easily made (raw)
1 large banana, peeled and frozen
1 heaping TBSP peanut butter (or raw nut butter*)
1 scoop protein powder, chocolate or unflavored
1 tsp. cocoa powder, omit if using chocolate protein powder
1 TBSP chia seeds
1 TBSP shelled hemp seeds
1/4-1/2 cup unflavored almond or hemp milk, plus more to taste (or raw nut milk)
3-4 ice cubes
1 tsp. raw cacao nibs, or sweet nibs, or chopped nuts – optional
*To make your own raw peanut butter, blend 1 cup shelled peanuts with 1 TBSP peanut oil in the bowl of your food processor. Add salt to taste, and optionally any other spices or sweeteners you choose.
In the blender, add 1/4 cup dairy-free milk, protein powder, cocoa (if using), chia seeds, and hemp seeds. Add the banana and peanut butter, and blend until smooth, adding more milk as needed to keep the blade moving (I like my smoothies especially thick, but feel free to thin it as much as you like). Add ice, and blend until smooth.
Pour into a glass, and top with a sprinkling of cacao nibs or chopped nuts.
Approximate Nutritional Information (will vary depending on the protein powder and ingredients you choose):
Calories: 400 – Protein: 30 – Fat – 24 – Fiber 12