Peanut Butter Banana Green Smoothie

Has summer hit your area yet? It’s been hit or miss here but we did have a lovely hailstorm the other day. And I say that with great sincerity, storms are fun so long as they don’t happen constantly.

The recipe I have for you today (although “recipe” might be kind of a generous term for a smoothie, if I’m honest) is great for those hot days when you want a healthy and filling meal but it’s too hot to make anything. It may not seem like much but I’m always surprised just how full I am at the end. Great for lunch (or dinner, if you’re as lazy as I am) and it is awesome for refueling after a long run.

Peanut Butter Banana Green Smoothie {{Baking Bytes}}

I’ll admit the green color can be a bit off-putting, but it tastes like a peanut butter banana milkshake. If you’re extra afraid of vegetables, like I was when I first started making this, just add a little bit more peanut butter or yogurt until you can’t taste the green. Maybe even put it in an opaque cup if that helps you come to terms with it.

Peanut Butter Banana Green Smoothie {{Baking Bytes}}

Cold, creamy, and sweet, it drinks like dessert but is a protein- and vitamin-packed meal replacement perfect for any day, but especially great on hot ones. A few years ago we had an extremely hot summer here in Montana (especially by Alaskan standards) and there were a couple weeks where I had one of these for dinner while I sat in front of the air conditioner pretty much every day after work. Five minutes to make and no heat to add to already scorching 98 degrees inside and out. Perfect.

Peanut Butter Banana Green Smoothie {{Baking Bytes}}

If you’re looking for a quick, cold, and healthy meal (or very large snack), this is the one you want. Go forth and blend!

Note: I like to blend the spinach and milk first to make sure it is well puréed. If you have a really nice blender and/or are not as averse to larger bits of leaf in your smoothie, you can definitely just blend it all at once instead of in two steps. Also! You can totally buy one of those giant containers of baby spinach (like Costco sells), blend it all up at once with some milk (or water if you prefer), and freeze it in to smoothie-sized portions. I used a muffin tin because that’s what I had on hand, and then I use two frozen portions per smoothie. Works great and there’s no risk of your spinach going bad (although I’ll admit getting them out of the muffin tin was somewhat annoying. In the future I will line it with foil or plastic wrap or something.)

Peanut Butter Banana Green Smoothie {{Baking Bytes}}

Peanut Butter Banana Green Smoothie

Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats
Makes one ~16oz smoothie

Ingredients

1/2 – 1 cup milk (I use 2% but any milk or plant wannabe will work)
1+ cups baby spinach, to taste1

1 ripe banana (peeled, sliced, and frozen)2
1/4 cup yogurt (I use vanilla honey Greek yogurt)
2 Tbsp peanut butter

Directions

  1. Blend spinach and 1/2 cup milk until reasonably smooth (no large pieces).
  2. Add remaining ingredients and blend until completely mixed (this could take a minute or so). If it’s too thick, blend in additional milk 2 tablespoons at a time until desired consistency is reached.
  3. Enjoy immediately with a straw and a sunny day.

Notes

1  I use one or two cups depending what fits, but you can add up to around four cups if you’re a big spinach fan. You likely want to use more yogurt and milk if you add much more than two cups of spinach.

I typically slice mine into roughly fourths as they fit into my single-serving blender cup better that way. You can slice yours more or less to suit your needs.

Frozen Peanut Butter Banana Treats

Hi friends. It’s been somewhat rainy and gray here but I’m sharing a summer treat anyway. This is one of my favorite easy snacks and childhood memories all rolled into one. I’m not sure how often we actually had these as kids, but I remember it being a lot and them being awesome. I still make them semi regularly since they keep in the freezer pretty well.

Frozen Peanut Butter Banana Treats {{Baking Bytes}}

Peanut butter mixed with honey makes for a sweet flavor without being terribly unhealthy. Plus bananas! Bananas are healthy. Graham crackers aren’t terrible for you, probably, so all in all it’s a pretty solid choice. Protein and fruit, can’t go wrong. The freezer makes these into a fabulous summer snack for a hot day when you don’t want ice cream. Or your parents won’t let you have ice cream, whatever the case may be.

Even though I set my own dessert rules now, I still like these as a healthier alternative without feeling like I’m depriving myself of deliciousness. Nice and cold on a hot day and perfect for satiating a sweet tooth. Yum.

Frozen Peanut Butter Banana Treats {{Baking Bytes}}

This is a super simple recipe so really there’s not much more to say…other than I suppose if you’re not a peanut butter fan (weirdo) you could use some other kind of nut butter, or I guess Nutella (gross) if you’re into that sort of thing. I typically use roughly a 1-to-1 ratio of peanut butter and honey but it doesn’t really matter that much so long as you end up with about a half cup total, otherwise you won’t have enough for all your crackers. My mom, for example, uses more like a 4-to-1 ratio, so really just go with whatever suits you.

Prepare for hot, lazy days and stick some of these in the freezer now, then later applaud yourself for being so forward-thinking.

Frozen Peanut Butter Banana Treats {{Baking Bytes}}

PS – If you think of a better name for these, let me know. I was not feeling creative.

Frozen Peanut Butter Banana Treats

Adapted from childhood
Makes about 8 treats

Ingredients

1 package (8-9 sheets) Graham crackers

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup peanut butter

2 small (narrow) ripe bananas

Directions

  1. Carefully break Graham crackers into squares. I like to gently press a knife along the perforation to do this cleanly.
  2. Mix honey and peanut butter together until smooth. Feel free to adjust the proportions!
  3. Spread honey mixture on one side of all crackers.
  4. Slice bananas into approximately 1/4″ pieces.
  5. Top half of the crackers with banana slices and place another cracker on top (peanut butter side down, of course.)
  6. Carefully wrap each sandwich in aluminum foiland place in the freezer several hours, or overnight.2
  7. Enjoy straight out of the freezer on a hot day.

Notes

For my British friends, Digestives work great also. Since they are a little thicker, you may want to use more of the honey mixture per cracker biscuit.

Or use plastic wrap and put them all in a freezer Ziploc.

Banana Bread and Chocolate Spread

Summer is here! Not sure I’m quite ready for the heat but I am thrilled that the prospect of snow has dropped to near zero. I recently developed IT band syndrome which put my training on a hiatus. On the one hand, it was kind of terrible, but on the other hand, it was a great excuse to get new running shoes. Because you definitely need a reason for new running shoes. (False. You don’t.) I have since started running again, carefully, so hopefully my half marathon on Saturday doesn’t kill me. I’m heading home to Alaska to run the Skagway Half Marathon, and then skipping back to Juneau for the following week. Hopefully the weather cooperates.

In any case, I’ve been consoling myself with copious amounts of baking. The usual cookies, as well as new ice cream flavors, and a birthday cake for M.

Birthday Cake

Delicious.

I also reverted to an old favorite: banana bread.

Banana Bread {{Baking Bytes}}

Growing up in Alaska the bananas arrive chartreuse in color and sprint past yellow before surrendering to the brown of overly ripe fruit. Maybe you are one of those people who likes the brown ones, or the spotty bananas, but my neon supply has resulted in a preference for yellow with the barest hint of green remaining. Of course this means they move rather quickly past what I call their “edible phase”, and if M isn’t around to eat them I just wait for the inevitable browning that makes for the best bread.

Banana Bread {{Baking Bytes}}

This is a very classic recipe pulled from the Gold Medal flour bags I used to buy. It is not overly moist, slices beautifully, and always turns out perfectly. I opt to use Crisco in lieu of butter, partly because that’s what I’ve always done and partly because you don’t have to wait for Crisco to soften. One of these days I’ll try it with butter just for comparison. Or you can try it and let me know what you think.

This bread is best wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and left on the counter overnight before slicing. It will be substantially dryer if you cut it ahead of time, so do your best to wait awhile. It also freezes beautifully, if you want to make two loaves and save one for later.

Chocolate Spread {{Baking Bytes}}

I happened to be craving something sweet, but not too sweet, so I whipped up a quick chocolate spread to use with this loaf. It pairs beautifully and still leaves the rest of the loaf chocolate free to eat plain or with butter some other hour day. To be honest, I use far less in real life than you see in these pictures, but it looks prettier and yummier with a thick coating.  (If you use this much, or more, I promise I won’t tell.)

I don’t care for nuts in much of anything, but if that’s your thing I won’t judge you too harshly for adding them. Probably.

If you’re a chocolate banana fan, throw in some chocolate chips or make the easy chocolate spread below. It’s a great way to dress up a classic recipe while still sticking to its roots. I would probably use about a fourth cup of mini chocolate chips, but just fold some in until it looks like enough for you.

Banana Bread and Chocolate Spread {{Baking Bytes}}

Banana Bread

Adapted from Gold Medal
Makes one loaf

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

1 cup mashed ripe banana (2-3 medium)
1/3 cup shortening or butter
2 Tbsp milk

2 eggs

1 cup walnuts, optional (I never add these)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a 9×5 loaf pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat bananas briefly until well mashed. Add shortening or butter and milk, and stir until combined.
  4. Add dry ingredients and stir (2 on a Kitchen Aide mixer) until incorporated, then on high (6) for two minutes.
  5. Add eggs and beat on medium (4) until blended and fluffy.
  6. Stir in nuts, if desired.
  7. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Cool for ten minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and/or a Ziploc bag, and leave on the counter overnight before slicing.
  10. Use a sharp knife to cut, and serve plain, with butter, or with the chocolate spread below.

Chocolate Spread {{Baking Bytes}}

Chocolate Spread

Makes about 3/4 cup

Ingredients

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/4 cup half and half

Directions

  1. Place chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl, and zap for one minute.
  2. Stir and repeat in 30-second intervals until chips are completely melted and smooth.
  3. Let cool for a few minutes, then slowly stir in the half and half until completely combined.
  4. Store in an airtight container, and keep in the fridge if you’re not going to use it right away. (Microwave for 10-15 seconds to make it spreadable if you don’t want to wait for it to warm up on the counter.)