Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Power Snack: Banana Date Smoothie

When I was a kid, one of my favorite snacks was my mom's banana smoothies.  My mom would make them with ice-cold milk and a banana, and that simple combo turned into something sweet and delicious, seemingly far more special than just milk and a banana.  (The wonders of the "puree" button on the blender, I suppose.)  And it was the perfect accompaniment to a peanut butter sandwich.

Today, I had a hankering for one of my mom's banana smoothies (hi, Mom!), but since I no longer eat dairy, I invented my own dairy-free version.  And with a chopped medjool date added in, it feels like a fancy, grown-up version of the original.  I have to admit, it's even tastier than the ones I remember as a kid.  Of course it's ridiculously simple.

Here's what you need:

-- 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (*note on coconut milk below)
-- 1 banana (break into pieces as you add into blender)
-- 1-2 medjool dates, chopped (use 2 if you like it quite sweet)

Put coconut milk, banana, and dates into blender and puree until smooth.  Voila.  I find that it's hard to get the dates super blended (might be my blender; can someone give me a Vita-Mix?; thanks so much), but then you have some little bits to chew at the end of your smoothie, as sweet as candy.  Seriously, those dates are like candy, people.

Notes about coconut milk: I buy it in a carton like you'd buy soy or almond milk.  Here's a picture:

Now I suppose you're thinking, "Isn't coconut milk supposed to be really bad for you?"  And here's the answer: allegedly, no.  I'm not a doctor, though I play one on TV, but some of the stuff I've been reading lately suggests that coconut milk has gotten a bad, undeserved rap.  I'm not saying you wanna chug a gallon a day because 1 cup does have 5 grams of fat (all saturated), but that fat is made up of medium chain fatty acids mostly (65%), which your body doesn't store as fat, but uses for energy.  Plus, coconuts and coconut milk have beneficial properties, which the Coconut Research Council lists here, including aiding digestion, preventing inflammation, and killing bacteria.

Coconut milk is great in this smoothie because it's rich and creamy, plus you get just a hint of coconut flavor which goes nicely with the bananas and dates.  If you'd rather use soy or almond milk, of course that's fine too.  But if you're looking for an alternative to mix things up, give coconut milk a try.  It's fantastic in this power smoothie.    


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