Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Power Smoothie, and the Happiest 5k On The Planet

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(Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Power Smoothie – raw, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free – recipe in post)

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!

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Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Color Run – the runners fling color into the air, creating a spectral cloud of dust

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.

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Don’t I have the most handsome brother you’ve ever seen?
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 This is just before the race, standing in a sea of 15,000 white t-shirts and smiling faces.

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Twenty minutes later, he’s through the finish line and on to the festival already taking place at Riverside Park.

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He spots me through the crowd, and instead of throwing his color packet with the group he opts to attack me with it instead, thoroughly dousing me with yellow.

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He may have tried to call truce, but I didn’t let go of the chance to retaliate.

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And then retaliate again…

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How you doin’?

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.

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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:

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Insert uncompensated product placement here – I truly love these products, and am not being paid to advertise them.
  • 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.

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More product placement… again, this is just what I keep in my cupboard.

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!

power 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.

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Approximate Nutritional Information (will vary depending on the protein powder and ingredients you choose):
Calories: 400 – Protein: 30 – Fat – 24 – Fiber 12

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23 Responses to Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter Power Smoothie, and the Happiest 5k On The Planet

  1. Ruth REYNOSO-SANCE July 26, 2012 at 11:34 pm #

    That 5K really looks happy and fun!! I love your smoothie recipe, even though it’s filling, it looks so delicious I would need two!!

    • Willow July 26, 2012 at 11:59 pm #

      I think that every single time I make it! Oh, this will never be enough… but it really does fill me up, and it feels so good!

  2. mr and mrs guevara July 27, 2012 at 12:35 am #

    yum, very similar to my favorite post-workout drink: 1/2 frozen banana, teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder, teaspoon peanut butter, teaspoon ‘very green’ powder, 1/2 teaspoon agave, almond milk and ice blended to amazingness!
    Its a bummer you didn’t actually get to run, but at least you got to experience the festival. My husband and I just ran the SF one a few weeks ago, it was a wonderful experience [on my blog].

    • Willow July 27, 2012 at 1:44 am #

      Awesome! Loved seeing your post. It amazed me, with so many color runs across the US, how many people came from miles around. It sold out so quickly!

  3. [email protected] July 27, 2012 at 1:56 am #

    This smoothie sounds amazing, it’s got to be delicious with peanut butter, chocolate and banana. Love the recipe. :)

  4. Rachel July 27, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

    Love it! Been trying to find a good way to mix up the Raw Meal from the same line & was told that the Raw Protein Powder blended so much better. Also thanks for the great tips on Hemp Hearts, Cocao Nibs, and Chia Seeds. I’ve always heard of them but you sum them all up great.
    What type of blender do you use?

    • Willow July 27, 2012 at 8:31 pm #

      The Raw Meal is great, but it really is a complete meal replacement… as far as I can tell, it’s best mixed with just a little almond or rice milk, and not much else (perhaps some cocoa or spices to flavor it?). I figure if I’m going to make something with lots of nutrition, like a smoothie, than I probably don’t need a full meal replacer. The protein powder has a much more neutral flavor (the unflavored one basically disappears into whatever I’m making, and the chocolate and vanilla are lightly sweet and really quite pleasant) and isn’t as heavy when mixed into things.

      As for the blender… There are a lot of good high-powered blenders out there. I have a very old (very sturdy) L’Equip RPM blender – but am also a big fan of Vita-Mix, and have heard good things about the brand ‘Ninja’. According to Consumer Reports, the top three models are currently the Vita-Mix 5200, the Ninja QB1004, and the L’Equip 228 – of the three, the Ninja is the cheapest. Any of those will pulverize and smooth out most anything in a matter of seconds, but are all fairly pricy and aren’t really necessary for making smoothies, in my opinion… Any blender that’s strong enough to chop ice-cubes should due.

      Hope that helps!

  5. CJ - Food Stories July 27, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

    What a fun run! Happy Friday :-)

  6. Courtney J July 28, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    I love the pics of your bro and all of the coloured powder! So cool :) What a fun idea!

    This smoothie sounds delicious!

    I need to buy a better blender than can chop ice cubes. My blender is on its last leg I think. I’d love to whip up a smoothie like this! :) YUM!

  7. Abby July 28, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    I love how healthy this smoothie is :D perfect fuel for running. I wish all runs were as fun as that one.

  8. Kat July 29, 2012 at 3:34 pm #

    I love your photography from the color run, especially the one where people throw paint in the air. Looks like so much fun (and how did you get all the paint off your camera??) This smoothie sounds perfect to last through the 5K or to refuel after one! I love energy boosting smoothies after a run.

  9. Foodie Stuntman July 31, 2012 at 12:33 am #

    Sibling rivalry? I hope your knee feels better.

  10. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes July 31, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

    Amazing! I love Hemp hearts and morning smoothies, so incredible :)

    I was suspose to run the Boston Color Run but it was the same Day I left for New Orleans, I can’t wait for nect year though it will either be Boston or DC!

    Your Brother is a cutie isn’t he ;)

  11. August 1, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

    My cousins did that race in Michigan — it looked like so much fun!

  12. From Valeries Kitchen August 4, 2012 at 1:29 am #

    This reminds me of the Hindu tradition of Holi = the spring festival of colors. I’ve always thought that looked like so much fun! Looks like your smoothie is packed with nutrition!

  13. ella@lifeologia August 5, 2012 at 1:27 am #

    Awesome! Just my kind of smoothies…. but not my kind of race ;P LOL
    I think my knee would act up also right before this race and my brother would rescue me ;)
    He’s awesome! ;)

  14. August 5, 2012 at 9:16 pm #

    Hello! I’ve totally been neglecting your blog… I’m so sorry! This sounds lovely :D. You know, I’ve never had this combination of ingredients before – it simply isn’t big in Britain. That 5k looks like it must be so much fun :D. I want to do it :D

  15. Alex @ Best-Smoothie-Maker August 23, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

    Awesome looking smoothie!

  16. mohalakitchen September 21, 2012 at 11:46 pm #

    the color run is coming to my town in november! I love your pictures I’m so excited about it!

    • Willow September 21, 2012 at 11:53 pm #

      It was so much fun! I’m sure you’ll love it. Good luck!

  17. zimt July 31, 2013 at 4:12 am #

    Yummy! I wasn’t super hungry (…alright, I didn’t actually want to cook anything), so I made this for dinner! Soooooo tasty! Thank you, Willow!

  18. zimt August 29, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

    Ok- just made this again and topped it with some cookie dough! Will put the photo up on the FB page-

    Soooooooo yum!

  19. lisa @ best processor December 16, 2013 at 7:03 pm #

    i just love this recipe! it gives me such a boost! thank you!

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