Do you know what happens when you put a frozen banana in a high-powered blender with cocoa powder, peanut butter, a little sweetener, and some milk?
You make a smoothie that’s as creamy and rich as a chocolate milkshake, satisfying and filling but not indulgent.
In general, I abhor fake-y substitutions. If you want a chocolate milkshake, have a chocolate milkshake. I just have no patience for the endless list of unsatisfying trade-offs. The point of this smoothie is that it’s a solid, nutritious, and filling snack. So much the better if it’s thick, creamy, and delicious, yet won’t send you off onto a sugar high and then low.
For the last year or so I have made this smoothie so many times that I couldn’t post about it because each smoothie was different from the previous day’s. I never measured, and I used what I had, whether that was a dash of cream leftover from a dinner party’s whipped cream dessert, or a pour of oozy blackstrap molasses which boosted my calcium and iron intake when I was pregnant.
I finally tested and measured my favorite variation so that you, too, could know the filling wonder of a frozen banana-peanut butter-chocolate smoothie. I’m sharing the absolute simplest version, but I’ve made a list of possible add-ins in case you want to try the bulked-up super-nutritious one.
- If you want to make it richer, add a tablespoon or two of cream.
- If you want to make it dairy free, use homemade cashew or coconut milk.
- If you want sweeter, add another date. Or some turbinado sugar. Or some honey. Or some blackstrap molasses (see below).
- If you don’t have a frozen banana, use a ripe banana and a handful of ice cubes (but it won’t be as thick).
- If you want iron, calcium, and deep brown sugar flavor, add a little blackstrap molasses.
- If you want a taste that reminds you of candy, substitute toasted almond butter for the peanut butter.
- If you want a little tang, add a spoonful of yogurt.
- If you like chia seeds, add 1 teaspoon.
Whatever path you take, taste your smoothie directly from the blender before you pour into your glass. Depending on the ripeness and size of the banana, the sweetness and softness of your dates, and your ability to measure rather than eyeball, the smoothie will taste a little different each time. But if you’re like me, you’ll never get sick of it.
- 1 frozen ripe banana
- 4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 soft medjool dates, pitted (you can soak them in the milk for a bit if they seem really tough)
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons unsweetened peanut butter (plain or crunchy)
- pinch of salt
- Put all the ingredients in a high-powered blender, like a Vitamix. Start on low, go to high, then blend on high power until very smooth, at least 1 minute, to make sure the dates are smooth. Taste for sweetness, temperature, and texture, adding more sweetener or ice cubes or milk as needed. Serve immediately.