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Chocolate Strawberry Banana Smoothie

I’ve professed my love for simple fruit smoothies here: Blueberry Banana Smoothie. And it’s true, the key to a good smoothie is a ripe, frozen banana and a complimentary fruit of your choice. The other key is the exclusion of all those ingredients people always think you need to throw in the blender, like sugars, and powders, and ice. Rather, the banana will add all the frozen creaminess and sweetness needed.

However, sometimes I make exceptions, like with this chocolaty, no-ice-cream-needed shake.

Using frozen fruit, I made this spoon-worthy thick, which with the cocoa powder makes this smoothie feel extra rich. The kefir adds another boost of creamy richness and just a touch of sweetness to balance out the bitterness of the pure cocoa. The results make a good case for occasionally adding a couple extra ingredients to the blender, although you’ll notice that the list is still limited to under a handful of items. However, I might suggest a 5th addition, which is really the only thing missing from this picture — a wide-holed straw. Straws always make shakes more fun.

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Banana Pops: A Fun Summer Snack

I know I’ve iterated this before, but banana and peanut butter is truly a marriage made in heaven.  The two mates will always have a steady relationship in my eyes, which we all know is a rarity these days.

The naturally sweet and nutty duo creates a rather satisfying flavor combo. that can be utilized on everything from PB&J to waffles to crepes.  I personally harness this flavor fusion most frequently as a snack all on it’s own.

But lately with warm-weathered days touching my skin and ice cream filling my mind, I’ve been taking an additional step to transform my favorite snack into an extra special summer treat.  With summer fruit sadly fading out, this treat is the perfect replacement.

A simple freeze can turn the classic banana and peanut butter into a healthy ice-cream-esque pop.  The protein-packed peanut butter (8 grams per serving) and potassium-filled bananas creates a well-balanced snack or after-dinner dessert that leaves me feeling both satisfied and energized.

For a super easy summer pop, stick with Phase 1.  The simple process of freezing the banana and PB adds a surprisingly special touch to the standard snack.

If you’re looking for an even extra special treat, take it to Phase 2 and add some melted chocolate to the mix.  Select whatever variety of chocolate you desire, but if you want to keep it healthy, go for bittersweet chocolate chips, like pictured above.   The dark chocolate will add a boost of antioxidants to your pops.  Spice it up a bit more with any of the optional add-ins, if you desire.

Click here for Banana Pops recipe…

Blueberry Banana Overnight Oats

Growing up, my mom was always try to create new ways to fix our oatmeal for breakfast.  Simple salt and pepper, peanut butter and banana, soy milk and maple syrup, ground nuts, and the other countless combinations she’d try out on my brother and I were all her endeavors to keep us eating a healthy breakfast.  Never a fan of starting off our day with sugar, Fruit Loops (my favorite junk cereal as a kid) was almost always out of the question.  On the rare occasion, my mom would let my brother and I wander the cereal aisle and actually pick out what we wanted. She’d treat us with mini cereal boxes for camping trips or some other special outing. On an everyday basis, however, it was some kind of oatmeal concoction going into the breakfast bowl.  Luckily, she was a particularly talented oatmeal lady. Switching it up frequently, I was often fooled into thinking I was eating something new on a regular basis.

One of my favorite ingredient combos. that she came up with was blueberry oatmeal.  She’d start the oatmeal and then a few minutes before it was finished, throw in a large handful of blueberries. She’d continue to cook just until the blues began to burst.  The oatmeal was always finished off with a spoonful of sesame tahini and a drizzle of quality maple syrup. The result:  A  heavenly bowl of oatmeal that resembled blueberry pancakes. Pancakes, of course, were an item I would’ve eaten nearly every day for breakfast.

As I grow older, I’m filling in for my mom and creating my own ways to eat my morning oats.  While my mom could eat and enjoy a bowl nearly every morning, it takes a little more motivation for me to crave oatmeal on a consistent basis.  However, lately I’ve been eating overnight oats on the reg. and find I still look forward to them each morning they await my spoon.  Below is my latest O-Oats creation, inspired by my mom’s timeless blueberry oatmeal.  I’ve created a cold, summery variation that’s prepared the night before, perfect for those morning’s when you’re in a rush.  Make sure to use a ripe banana, which surprisingly eliminates a need for any extra sugar…that’s certainly Mom approved.

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Blueberry Banana Smoothie

Fruit smoothies are my favorite.  I’ve gone through my daily green smoothie phases, but really it’s the simple fruit combinations that I crave.  Especially in the summer, when the fruit is ripe, and all those blueberries, strawberries, and peaches are packed with their fullest flavor.

Wash, slice, blend, and voilà, you’ve got yourself one of the easiest, and most delicious breakfast/snack/dessert items.

It’s funny though.  So many places seem to mess up this simple idea.  It baffles me how many times I’ve ordered a smoothie out and it’s tasted like anything but the naturally sweet fruit I’m accustomed to.  Instead, the shake contains an overly sweet, artificial flavor and an icy consistency that takes the smooth right out of smoothie.  Besides the fact that I can’t ever seem to get a smoothie out that isn’t filled with unnecessary calories and overly-processed, crap ingredients, I can’t rarely get a smoothie that tastes good enough to gulp down a whole glass.

But whatever, I’ll just put my own blender to use.  And since I’m making the smoothies myself, one thing is for sure.  You’ll never see sugar, powdered fruit, food colorings, or more than a few ice cubes going into that blender.  I don’t want any protein, yerba mate, splenda or other powdery mysteries going in there either.  All of these ingredients are nothing more than a waste of calories, prep. time, and most importantly, flavor!!  All you need for a yummy (and naturally healthy) smoothie is quality fruit.  Simple as that.  Ripe bananas are always a plus too because they lend the natural sweetness needed to make smoothies feel like dessert.  Occasionally I’ll use honey, but generally a ripe banana is all I need.

Below is a loose recipe for the type of smoothie I often make, utilizing one of summer’s star-shining fruits: Blueberries.  You can swap out the fruit depending upon what’s in season, but the general concepts stay the same.  Don’t use too much ice.  In fact, freeze 1/2 the fruit you’ll be using, such as your banana, or just the blueberries/strawberries/etc., ahead of time, and you really won’t need any ice at all.  Make sure the banana is ripe so it can sweeten up the smoothie.  And don’t go overboard on the juice/milk, unless you want a super thin shake.  Other than that, you can pack as much vitamin-filled sweetness into your blender as you want.  Just pick your favorite fruits, and you should end up with a delicious, naturally fat-free smoothie.  Really, it’s that easy.  (You hear that all you crazy, chain-smoothie owners? I want a real smoothie, not a fake.)

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