Whole grain banana bread with almond pulp recipe

whole grain banana bread with almond pulp | pamela salzman

Something I really hate to do is to waste food.  One of the reasons I plan out a week of meals is that I can shop accordingly and only buy what I know I will use.  But what about that leftover almond pulp?  Despite my best efforts to use up the almond byproduct that results every time I make almond milk, it just doesn’t always happen.  And raw almonds are so expensive that it actually pains me to throw the pulp in the trash.  It’s perfectly good food, especially since the almonds were previously soaked, making them much more digestible and nutritious!

leftover almond pulp

So what do I do with it?  Of course, there’s the obvious — add it to anyone’s smoothie or stir it into a warm porridge or muesli.  And almond pulp freezes well, so I can save it for another time.  But I am just way too lazy to get out my dehydrator and dry out the pulp to use as almond meal.  And then I thought to myself, what if I just tried the almond pulp in a quick bread in place of some of the wheat flour?  Well, guess what?  It worked!  Although apparently, a million other people already knew this and I am extremely late to the almond pulp party!

wet ingredients

I decided to take one of my banana bread recipes and tweak it a bit with almond pulp that was leftover from 1 cup of whole, soaked raw almonds.  Remember, almonds have a lot more fat than grain flours, so we can cut back on some of the added fat.  But almonds have no gluten, so I was reluctant to make an all-almond pulp bread this first time.  I know this will be neither Paleo nor gluten-free (although I am confident you can swap the gluten flour for a good GF all purpose mix + a little xanthan gum), but I think we can fix that with a few more tweaks.  Using half whole wheat flour and half almond pulp, this bread came out to be ABSOLUTELY PERFECT!  Moist but hearty, not crumbly, and not too sweet.  It’s perfect banana bread, in my book.  My life changed instantly!!  Let’s all imagine the possibilities of subbing some almond pulp for flour in different recipes!  Is this exciting or what??

batter

ready for the oven

Most of the recipes on my site have been made in my cooking classes and at home about 20 times, but this one I just did once so I haven’t tested all the permutations, e.g. all almond pulp, no bananas, butter for coconut oil, and so on.  But you can bet I will!  I am planning on making my Millet Blondies today with almond pulp.  Check my Instagram for updates!  And please share your experiences with subbing in almond pulp in any recipes — I’ll try anything!

One last favor — I love Saveur Magazine and they’re conducting their annual food blog awards right now. If you like my blog, would you kindly take 15 seconds out of your busy day and nominate me for a Saveur Food Blog Award?  I think the category of Best Special Interest Blog (healthy cooking) would be great.  Thank you so much!  Here’s the link (and I promise it takes 15 seconds!) http://www.saveur.com/article/contests/blog-awards-2015-nominate

whole grain banana bread with almond pulp | pamela salzman

whole grain banana bread with almond pulp | pamela salzman

banana bread with almond pulp

5.0 from 17 reviews
Whole Grain Banana Bread with Almond Pulp
Author: 
Serves: makes one 8½ x 4½ -inch loaf
 
Ingredients
  • 1¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour, whole spelt or sprouted spelt flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ cup packed almond pulp (leftover from 1 cup of almonds to make almond milk)
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter or unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2-3 very ripe bananas, mashed (2 large or 3 small-medium)
  • ½ cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a 8 ½ x 4 ½ loaf pan with butter or coconut oil and line with unbleached parchment paper, if desired.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  3. Place the almond pulp, maple syrup, melted butter or coconut oil, eggs and vanilla in a blender and process until combined. Or whisk well in a medium bowl.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and combine until just blended. Fold in the mashed bananas and nuts.
  5. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan 10 minutes and then remove the bread and transfer to a rack.

Banana-Carrot Almond Flour Muffins Recipe

banana carrot almond flour muffins | pamela salzman

You know what makes me laugh about Passover?  When I was growing up (in a very Italian-Catholic home,) my mother was always quite excited when Passover was imminent because matzoh would hit the shelves in the supermarket.  And my grandmother was even more excited.  I remember Grandma visiting once during Passover and gifting us 3 boxes of Streit’s matzoh that she received with a coupon at Shop Rite.  We didn’t need any matzoh, of course, because my mom had already used a similar coupon at Pathmark and stocked up.  But we were happy to have it, because once Passover was over, matzoh would be nowhere to be found.

blanched almond flour and dry ingredients

ripe bananas

What’s the point of this story?  We actually bought matzoh because we liked it!  Who likes matzoh?  We did and we ate it with a schmear of Breakstone’s whipped butter, cream cheese or sometimes peanut butter.  Now, many years later, I am married to a nice Jewish guy and we observe Passover.  We don’t eat any grains or legumes or anything that can leaven for those 8 days.  And I buy matzoh because it’s traditional and we use it like we would bread, spreading it with almond butter and jelly or using it to sandwich roasted veggies and goat cheese (that’s for me) or turkey and avocado.  I make a veggie “lasagne” with matzoh and a very delicious matzoh brie too (you should check out my recipe for Tex-Mex matzoh brie.)

mashed bananas and wet ingredients

all wet ingredients together

But let me tell you, I don’t love it.  None of us in this house does.  But pickings were always slim during Passover, unless one resorted to boxes of cake mix made out of sugar, preservatives and matzoh meal.  Fast forward to 2014 when blanched almond flour has become as common as quinoa (which is ok to eat during Passover believe it or not.)  So I have been able to enjoy delicious, “normal” baked goods which just happen to be grain-free.   Just by using almond flour.  Game changer!

add in shredded carrots and dates

A few years ago I posted a recipe for some delicious almond flour muffins with banana, chocolate and chia seeds.  I will for sure make a batch or two of those next week, but I will also be making these amazing banana-carrot-coconut muffins.  I found this recipe in Andrew Weil’s True Food cookbook and made a few adjustments to make them even more healthful.  These muffins are a great cross between carrot cake and banana bread and have a nice, subtle sweetness.  I actually make one batch as a 2-layer cake for the seders and spread my vegan frosting in between.  I’ll make another batch and freeze them for breakfasts and lunchboxes, since I think these can serve as a meal-in-a-muffin.

Fill the muffin cups to the top

baked muffins

Ironically, my mother still buys matzoh, although the options are far more interesting than they used to be including spelt, onion and even gluten-free.  For me, I’ll enjoy Passover much more with these muffins!

muffins! | pamela salzman

banana carrot almond flour muffins | pamela salzman

banana-carrot almond flour muffins | pamela salzman

4.7 from 6 reviews
Banana-Carrot Almond Flour Muffins
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups blanched almond flour (not almond meal) I use Honeyville.
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 very ripe bananas*, mashed
  • 2 Tablespoons raw honey
  • ¼ cup (4 Tablespoons) unrefined coconut oil or unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1 cup dates, pitted and chopped (or raisins or dried cherries)
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the almond flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and coconut. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, bananas, melted coconut oil, honey, vanilla and vinegar together, making sure that the oil is well incorporated into the other ingredients.
  3. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ones. Fold in the dates, carrots, and walnuts. Divide the batter among the muffin cups. You will fill the cups to the top since these muffins don’t rise very much.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes, until golden brown or a skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. (Since there is no actual flour, the muffins will not rise significantly.) Cool in the pan or on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then turn out the muffins onto the rack and let cool to warm or room temperature.
Notes
*Or substitute ¾ cup unsweetened applesauce + an extra 2 Tablespoons raw honey
This recipe calls for blanched almond flour, which is much finer and lighter than almond meal. Bob's Red Mill "almond flour/meal" is not fine enough. You can use almond meal in this recipe, but the results will be heavier and coarser.

 

Green Muffins Recipe — Perfect for St. Patrick’s Day

green muffins! | pamela salzman

I am too excited about this muffin recipe to wait until St. Patrick’s Day!  I’ve had great luck in the past using pureed spinach to turn pancakes green, so I knew I could make a green muffin.  Not only do I think these turned out fantastic, even Mr. Picky loved them, too.  Although I did tell him a little lie and said I used green food coloring and he just lit up, eyes wide, “Really?!  You did?!  Really, Mom?!  Like the unhealthy kind?!”  Honestly, I’m a little disappointed that my son actually thinks I would use food coloring in a muffin.  And just as disappointed that he would be excited to eat that same muffin.  I had to lie again.  Actually, buddy, it’s a natural green food coloring which gets its color from spinach.  Bummed out face.  I know for a minute there he thought I suddenly turned into an exciting mom, one who would take risks and dare to use carcinogens!  “Oh.  They’re still good, I guess.”

whole wheat pastry flour

puree coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, egg, milk together

And they are good!  These muffins are lightly sweet, moist, simple and BRIGHT GREEN because they are loaded with spinach!  St. Patrick’s Day is a HUGE opportunity to get green foods into your kids because they are expecting them.  You’re showing your spirit.  On any other day, green muffins are you just trying to sneak leafy greens into your kids who are not fooled.  But the closer we get to March 17th, green muffins are part of the fun!

batter made green from pureed spinach

fill about 7/8ths full

This is a very basic muffin recipe.  The spinach is undetectable and the banana is very subtle.  But if you hate banana, you might be able to sub 1/2 cup of applesauce.  I think adding walnuts or chocolate chips would be great, too.  One of my daughters suggested cream cheese frosting, although then these become cupcakes which is fine, too.  These tasted best the day they were made and the next day, too.  They lasted just fine a few days on the countertop in a sealed container, but I would freeze what you don’t think you’ll eat within a couple days.  Let me know if you make these and if you get lucky!

Green muffins! |Pamela Salzman

green muffins | pamela salzman

4.2 from 13 reviews
Green Muffins
Author: 
Serves: makes 12
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, white whole wheat flour or spelt flour (or use 2 cups of King Arthur Multi-purpose Gluten-free Flour + 1 teaspoon xanthan gum)
  • 2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine ground sea salt
  • 1 large egg
  • ¾ cup pure maple syrup (Grade A or Grade B)
  • ¾ cup dairy or non-dairy milk (such as almond milk)
  • ¼ cup unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 5- or 6-ounce bag of fresh baby spinach leaves
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with unbleached parchment liners.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a blender add egg, maple syrup, milk, oil, vanilla and spinach.  Process until pureed.
  4. Add spinach mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.  Fold in the mashed banana.
  5. Scoop batter into prepared muffin tin, filling cups about ¾ full.  I like to do this with a large ice cream scooper.  Bake about 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  6. Store at room temperature up to 3 days.  These freeze nicely!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Smoothie Recipe

chocolate peanut butter banana oatmeal smoothie by Pamela Salzman

Most of the time we just call this the Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie.  Mr. Picky says it’s his new favorite and he is usually the one to make it.  You should see how many bananas I have to buy to keep up with the acai bowls, banana “ice cream” and the new favorite CPBBO Smoothie.  Most cashiers at the grocery store either look at me funny or can’t resist asking me what I am going to do with 6 bunches of bananas.

Banana mania

I was going to wait a while before I posted another banana recipe, but Mr. Picky asked if I would put up this smoothie so his friends’ moms could have it, too.  Cute.  Smoothies and acai bowls are his favorite after-school snack.  I taught him how to safely work the blender and the Vitamix and as long as I’m in close proximity, he’s welcome to give it a go.  As opposed to his teenage sisters, who think making a smoothie is too much work.  Yawn.  I told my daughter who is a junior in high school that she needs to change her attitude that spending 5 minutes to make a snack is hard labor.  What is she going to do when she’s (we hope) living away from home in college?  And then I said those awful words that made me sound like my parents.  C’mon, all together now, “when I was your age…”  Yeah, anything that comes after that is going to get the big old eye roll.  But really, wouldn’t you have DIED to have a Vitamix when you were a teenager??  Or frozen acai puree??  Or an iPad which pulled up thousands of recipes AND videos?  Can we just talk about smart phones for a second?  What about the fact that I went to college with a typewriter.  A typewriter.

frozen bananas

Yep, and that’s why it’s usually just Mr. Picky and myself in the kitchen making smoothies and acai bowls.  Which is fine, because I’m soooooo annoying.  OMG.

raw cacao powder

What’s cool about smoothies is that you really don’t need a recipe.  We completely eyeball it every time.  And Mr. Picky has no idea that I am so on to him that he uses chocolate syrup instead of cacao powder in this smoothie when he thinks I’m not looking.  I’m annoying and flexible at the same time.  I really don’t care if he squirts a little chocolate syrup in his smoothie if it’s for an after school snack, although we all know that the same antioxidants in raw chocolate don’t apply to Hershey bars or chocolate syrup.  Just saying.

everything into the blender, ice on top

But if you did want this for breakfast, I think it’s a perfectly good way to start the day, provided that it’s not the middle of winter.  I have a thing about not giving the kids or me really cold stuff first thing in the morning, especially if the weather is cold.  It’s just too hard on the digestive system and kids have weaker digestion than adults.  But back to nutrients, there’s great protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates in this smoothie so you could use this as a meal replacement.  Feel free to adjust the flavors to your liking or add protein powder or spinach or ground flax seeds.  This is just a guideline.  Normally, Mr. Picky and I taste whatever is in the blender and then add a little extra peanut butter or sweetener or chocolate.

chocolate peanut butter banana oatmeal smoothie by Pamela Salzman

chocolate peanut butter banana oatmeal smoothie by Pamela Salzman

Also awesome if you like to plan ahead, make this smoothie the night before and you’ll be sitting pretty come morning!

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Smoothie
Author: 
Serves: makes 1 large or 2 medium smoothies
 
Ingredients
  • 2 ripe bananas, peeled, cut into large chunks and frozen (click here for how to freeze fruit)
  • ½ cup almond milk or milk of choice*
  • 3 Tablespoons creamy, natural peanut butter (or raw almond butter for a more neutral flavor)
  • ¼ cup old fashioned rolled oats (use oats labeled “gluten-free” for a gluten-free smoothie)
  • 2 Tablespoons raw cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder or chocolate syrup
  • Sweetener: add your preferred sweetener to taste, such as honey, dates or coconut palm sugar. With unsweetened almond milk and natural cacao powder, 3 pitted dates seems to be perfect for us.
  • ½ cup - 1 cup ice, depending on how icy you want it
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a blender with the ice on top. Blend until very smooth. Smoothie may be refrigerated overnight or frozen.
Notes
*If you use sweetened almond milk, you may not need additional sweetener.

If it's not too obvious, omit the chocolate for a Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie.  Omit the peanut butter or substitute raw almond butter for a Chocolate Banana Smoothie.  Omit the banana for a Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie.

 

Healthful Vegan Mint Chip Smoothie Recipe

I quietly went dairy-free recently which made me a little bummed out because I love yogurt and feta and Pecorino Romano cheese.  My acupuncturist was begging me for years to break up with dairy once and for all so that I might be able to stop complaining about this and that.  Sure enough, without getting too personal, going dairy-free (even sheep and goat) has been a positive move for me and I am pretty motivated to keep it that way.

I still give Mr. Picky raw milk and the girls eat their yogurt and cheese all the same.  But when I make something for all of us to share, I’ve been using lots and lots of almond milk, like in porridges and smoothies.  I haven’t gotten around to making almond milk yogurt yet, but I’d love to try.  In the meantime, I just made this crazy delicious mint chip smoothie that will keep my dairy cravings at bay forever!  Mint chip was always my favorite ice cream flavor and I love fresh mint in salads so how could I go wrong in a smoothie?  I took my Leprauchan Smoothie from last year with a few tweaks and a couple drops of peppermint extract, presto!  It’s so darn good, it tastes like a dessert even though it’s totally healthful enough to eat for breakfast.  Except for the chocolate chips.  Who cares!  It has 4 cups of spinach which you can’t even taste and a couple of dates for sweetness.  Not bad at all.  In fact, so stinkin’ good!

My kids were even freaking out.  This is one of those things you’ll make for St. Patrick’s Day because it’s green and you won’t stop making it.  The only thing I don’t love about it is that it’s cold.  And cold first thing in the morning when the weather is still a bit chilly is a bummer for your digestive system which has to work extra hard to bring up the temperature of your stomach to where it likes to be.  I try not to give the kids cold smoothies first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, and definitely not in the winter.  Serving this with warm oatmeal or porridge is a better idea, or after a workout, or when the weather warms up a bit.

But I’d rather see you drink a cold smoothie in the middle of winter than anything with gross green food coloring.  I just cringe when I see cupcakes with artificially-dyed frosting or green bagels.  If you need some convincing, please read this article from Healthy Child Healthy World about why you need to go dye-free.  In the meantime, go get yourself a giant bag of naturally green, chlorophyll-rich, nutrient dense SPINACH and enjoy some delicious St. Patty’s Day pancakes with a mint chip smoothie to wash it all down!  🙂

Healthful Vegan Mint Chip Smoothie
Author: 
Serves: makes 2 medium sized drinks
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice*
  • 4 pitted dates or sweetener of choice to taste
  • 4 cups spinach leaves
  • ½ ripe avocado, pitted and peeled (optional, but good if you are trying to eat more high quality fats)
  • 1 frozen ripe banana, cut into chunks (this should be peeled before it’s frozen--click here for tips on freezing fruit)
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 2 cups ice
  • 2 Tablespoons chocolate chips or raw cacao nibs
  • To garnish (optional): 2 mint sprigs and some shaved chocolate (I used a vegetable peeled on a dark chocolate bar.)
Instructions
  1. If you have a high-powered blender, such as a Vita-Mix, place all the ingredients EXCEPT the chocolate chips into the blender and process until smooth.
  2. If you do not have a high-powered blender, the dates may not get blended completely and may leave tiny little bits of date in the smoothie. If that bothers you, blend the almond milk and dates together and then strain the mixture. Add the remaining ingredients to the blender (EXCEPT the chocolate chips) with the strained almond milk and blend until smooth. Or just use honey or maple syrup to sweeten instead of dates.
  3. Add the chocolate chips and pulse just a couple of times to break them up a bit. Divide between 2 glasses and garnish with a mint sprig and chocolate shavings, if desired.
Notes
*If you want to use a sweetened vanilla almond milk or other sweetened vanilla milk, you can omit the dates and vanilla extract and sweeten to taste.

 

Acai Bowl Recipe

 

I am a little bit of a skeptic, I’ll admit.  When a new food comes onto the scene claiming to save your life, I have to raise an eyebrow.  One food can’t do it all.  If you’ve noticed, I try not to beat anyone over the head with nutrition facts but rather emphasize a diet of a wide variety of mostly plant-based whole foods.  Eating seasonally, locally and organically helps too, but first things first.

Many years ago I started hearing the praises of acai (prononced ah-sigh-EE), a berry native to the Amazon (the rainforest, not the online shopping site).  Acai’s claims to fame are its insane antioxidant levels (more than blueberries!), healthful fats and a good smattering of iron, calcium and beta-carotene.  It also happens to be very low in carbs and sugar.  What I love is acai’s deep berry, almost chocolatey flavor.  Delicious, I promise you.

“Acai bowls” are popular in Brazil, but have found a loyal following in the US in areas with year-round warm weather, such as Hawaii and Baja California.  They’re kind of like a super thick smoothie/soft serve sorbet that you eat with a spoon.  Beacause acai bowls are so soft and creamy, they beg for toppings with a little texture.  The most traditional way they are eaten is with a scoop of granola, sliced fresh bananas and a drizzle of honey.  I was at a hotel in San Diego a few years ago when I saw an acai bowl on the menu and I very enthusiastically ordered it.

Let’s cut to the chase here — my family and I have been addicted to these since that day.  Not only that, but I have taught all three of my kids how to make them so when their friends come over they can throw together a nutritious and tasty snack in minutes, and one which their friends probably haven’t had anywhere else.  Cool!  One day, the mom of one of Mr. Picky’s friends came over holding a packet of frozen acai with a look of desperation and said, “Just tell me what to do with this.”  Many of my kids’ friends are hooked, too!  I let everyone choose their own toppings, which can include granola, flaked coconut, walnuts, cacao nibs, sliced almonds and cut up fresh fruit like bananas, strawberries or blueberries.  Mr. Picky always adds a small handful of mini chocolate chips and I’m okay with that since there’s no other added sugar here.

Now that the weather is becoming warmer, I wanted to share this recipe so you could enjoy it for the whole summer (I love that word!).  Since my version isn’t super sweet, I think with the right toppings an acai bowl makes a great breakfast, post-workout snack or even dessert.  You can see from the recipe that there isn’t anything too suspect or worrisome, just a bit of fruit sugar.  Wouldn’t you prefer these ingredients which are paired with vitamins, minerals, fiber, good fats and antioxidants over artificially-colored and flavored popsicles?  Thought so.  But just so we’re clear, I’m not trying to convince you that acai bowls are a magic cure for anything other than a craving for something cool, creamy and very delicious!

Acai Bowls
Author: 
Serves: 2 generously
 
Ingredients
  • 2 packets frozen acai puree (break it into pieces first to make it easier on your blender)
  • 1 frozen or fresh* ripe banana (cut into pieces) or a heaping cup of frozen mango chunks
  • 1 large handful frozen or fresh* blueberries, strawberries, mango or peaches
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed orange juice or apple juice or almond milk*
  • Topping suggestions: granola, sliced bananas, fresh berries, coconut, chopped nuts, cacao nibs
Instructions
  1. Add acai, fruit and juice to a blender and puree until smooth, but thick. A Vitamix does this very easily, but if you have a standard blender you'll just have to scrape down the sides every so often. Divide between two individual bowls and add toppings of choice. Serve immediately.
Notes
*Frozen fruit will give you a better texture and make it more like soft serve ice cream.

**fruit juice will make the acai bowl a little sweeter than almond milk but the almond milk makes it taste a little creamier. If you use almond milk, taste it before serving and if necessary, sweeten with a little raw honey or add a pitted date or two to the blender and puree.

**You can add your favorite protein powder to make it a more complete breakfast.

Spinach and avocado smoothie recipe (aka “Leprechaun Juice”)

Are you having trouble getting your kids or significant other to eat green food?  If so, your big chance is coming up and I don’t want you to miss out. Instead of looking at St. Patrick’s Day as a day of corned beef and cabbage, artificially-dyed green bagels and Irish soda bread, it’s actually a huge opportunity to bust out the healthful greens.  Why?  Because this holiday is all about green and it would be festive to serve green food.  I’m not talking green-sprinkled sugar cookies, but Leprechaun Juice of course!

Leprechaun Juice is what I first called this delicious spinach and avocado smoothie years ago and my kids thought I was a really awesome mom.  For all I know, they probably thought I put food coloring in the blender to turn everything this vibrant green or that I picked it up at the 7-Eleven because St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday and I can be fun that way.  Well, you and I know each other pretty well by now to know that there ain’t no food coloring in my smoothies let alone my arts and crafts basket (if I actually had one.)

In fact, raw baby spinach gives give this drink its vibrant color as well as more nutrition than almost any food out there (think folate, antioxidants, Vitamins C and K, iron, magnesium and chlorophyll.)  Spinach blends really well in smoothies because it’s tender and it doesn’t taste like spinach, especially when you toss some extra sweet bananas and dates in there.  Dates and ripe bananas are my secret weapons when I want to use a natural sweetener.  In fact, I buy several bunches of bananas at a time which I allow to ripen until they’re super sweet.  I peel them and then keep them in the freezer for great smoothies, acai bowls and to dip in chocolate.  You might be thinking the most unusual suspect here is probably the avocado.  But its richness makes this smoothie as thick and creamy as a milkshake with absolutely no weird flavor. I am truly the president of the avocado fan club.  They are full of fresh, high-quality fat, loads of Vitamin E and fiber.  And it’s that fat that helps us absorb the fat soluble vitamins and antioxidants, especially the carotenoids in spinach.

Mr. Picky has a cutie-pie friend that walks with us to school every Thursday morning.  According to his mom, he rivals my son in pickiness.  I don’t think she could have ever predicted that her son would be the one operating our juicer every Thursday morning and the first one to gulp down kale, apple and celery juice.  She was really tickled when I sent her a photo of the two “picky boys” slurping their green shakes.  One of the best things you can do is not to assume your kids or significant other won’t like something.  Worst case scenario here is that if you have no takers for Leprechaun Juice, there will be more for you!

Spinach and Avocado Smoothie
Author: 
Serves: makes 2 medium drinks
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice
  • 4 pitted dates or sweetener of choice to taste, such as raw honey or pure maple syrup
  • 4 cups spinach leaves
  • ½ ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
  • 2 frozen bananas, cut into chunks
Instructions
  1. If you have a high-powered blender, such as a Vita-Mix, place all the ingredients in the blender and process until smooth.
  2. If you do not have a high-powered blender, the dates may not get blended completely and may leave tiny little bits of date in the smoothie. If that bothers you, blend the almond milk and dates together and then strain the mixture. Add the remaining ingredients to the blender with the strained almond milk and blend until smooth. Or just use honey or maple syrup to sweeten instead of dates.