Green Monkey Smoothie

When I started my health journey sometime seven (!!!) years ago, I was told I had to eat all of my veggies and fruits, stop eating sweets, eat less carbs, and do tons of cardio. I listened to that advice for most of my journey but thankfully, I snapped out of all that noise since then. Yeah, I still eat better than I did back then but my focus shifted. I eat what I want but watch how I feel when I’m eating. What do I mean by that? I eat what I crave when I’m hungry until I’m satisfied. Can you believe it took me seven years to figure that out? Such a simple concept that can change the way you eat and view food isn’t as widely known as “eat less carbs and sweets and do all the cardio.” Confusing.

One thing that stuck, that’s equally as important, is the veggies part. If you know me, you know that I loathe vegetables. Hate them with the burning intensity of a thousand suns. I’m not talking about all vegetables, but the ones that everyone usually preaches are the best to eat. Like broccoli and stuff. Yuck. The only way you can get me to eat a leafy green is if it’s covered in pasta sauce or in a smoothie.

Enter the Green Monkey.

Kale bouquet

What’s a “Green Monkey?” Only my favorite way to get my greens in! It’s a combination of spinach, kale, bananas, and peanut butter. The monkey part is obviously the banana (and maybe the peanut butter?) What I love about this combo is that it’s impossible to taste the greens. You wouldn’t even know they were in there if the smoothie itself wasn’t green. It tastes like bananas and peanut butter; the classic combo that most kids, like me, love.

The best way to make this smoothie is in a powerful blender. If you’re one of the lucky ones with access to a Vitamix, I’m officially jelly. I have my trusty Magic Bullet (which I actually broke when we got it but I fixed it, so we don’t talk about that anymore) to blend in, which works great in a pinch. I usually break up the smoothie in two batches because I love packing as many greens as I can fathom into my smoothies.

Smoothie Prep

Along with a boatload of greens, the banana is an integral part of the smoothie. It’s what gives it that thick and luscious texture. Bonus if the banana is frozen because it does double duty in chilling and making the smoothie thick. No frozen bananas? No problem! Use ice (duh)! Finally, the peanut butter. I love the natural, smooth stuff but feel free to sub with your fave smooth or chunky nut butter.

The result? The Green Monkey: a smoothie so delicious, you forget it’s healthy. Amp up the health content by throwing in a scoop of your favorite protein powder. Chocolate protein powder works pretty well; makes it taste like drinking a Reese’s. It’s the perfect post workout drink, along with a healthy snack to help refuel your body.

Green Monkey Smoothie

Consider the Green Monkey the next time you realize you could use more greens in your life but don’t actually want to eat them.

The Green Monkey Smoothie – a Lucy the Baker Original

Makes one smoothie

  • 2 cups of kale, rinsed and de-stemmed
  • 1 to 2 cups of fresh spinach, rinsed
  • 1/2 of milk or water
  • 1/2 to 1 whole banana
  • 1 to 2 tbsps natrual, smooth peanut butter

Directions:

  1. Rinse and de-stem your kale. If you’re using a small blender, tear the leaves into smaller pieces. Repeat with the spinach but don’t remove its stems (there are a lot of vitamins in spinach stems and they blend easy, unlike kale stems).
  2. Place the prepped greens in the cup of you blender. Add in the banana, the peanut butter and the milk or water. Add ice if using, and blend! Make sure greens are thoroughly blended until smooth (ahem, hence the name smoothie).
  3. Pour the smoothie in a glass (if you’re fancy) and drink!

Lucy’s Tips:

  • For the lazy, like myself, you can enjoy this smoothie straight out of the blender cup. Throw a straw in it (or not) and call it a day. 
  • You can add a variety of greens into this smoothie, just stick with mild ones so they don’t overtake the flavor of the smoothie. 
  • Use frozen bananas when you can!
  • Feel free to use the milk of your choice. I use soy milk but this smoothie would be fab with almond milk (and almond butter!), coconut milk, cow’s milk, etc. 
  • Also, use the nut butter of your choice. The options are endless!
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Banana Bread

I love bananas. Not only are they delicious, but they’re accessible and go well with pretty much anything. I have yet to meet anyone who hates bananas (besides Ree but I’ve never met her, though). I am down to eat bananas in any shape, way or form; except when they’re brown and spotty. I know what you’re thinking; “that’s when bananas are their best because they’re super soft and super sweet” but I don’t like eating them straight up when they’re at that stage. When they are, they’re closer to death via trash can than being eaten.

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When picking my bananas, I try to get them as green as possible so that they’ll ripen to my liking at home. I find that the bright yellow bananas at the supermarket get all spotty and close to death when I bring them home quicker than the greener ones. I like my bananas bright yellow, with the slightest tinge of green because they’re not too sweet but a bit tart, starchy, and delicious. I’ll even eat them plain yellow and with minimal spots but as soon as they start getting really spotty and turn black, they’re dead to me.

The last hand of nanners we brought home got spotty fairly quickly. I’m not sure why it happened so fast but I purposely let a pair of them get even closer to their death; right before any fruit flies showed up for the funeral. I had been dying to make banana bread (heh no pun intended), so I took advantage of the situation. It’s one of the two ways I’ll eat a banana on its death bed; the other being in a smoothie. Even though I needed a third for this recipe, I trucked on with my two lonely, almost dead nanners.

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I chose this recipe for one reason and one reason only: there’s booze in here! If you know me, you’ll know how much I love putting liquor in almost everything I bake. The irony here is that I barely drink. I raid my dad’s liquor cabinet regularly when baking. He hates it but I do it anyway! My mom got a bottle of Jim Beam Honey Bourbon for Christmas, which he swiftly added to his collection since she’s not much of a liquor drinker. I’m not much of a drinker either but when I saw this, I had to taste it. I’ve heard a lot of good things about bourbon, and wanted to see what the fuss was all about. I popped open the bottle and took a swig. It was warm, sweet and went down easy. I think the best thing about drinking liquor straight up is that warming sensation it leaves going down your throat, and this stuff definitely does that! We still had a bit left in the bottle, so I threw some of it in the batter.

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The banana bread loaf came out a bit short, probably because I only used two bananas, but it was delicious. The loaf developed this beautiful brown crust that covered the soft and tender cake. The bananas are front and center, bringing their distinct taste and sweetness forward. Although it is virtually undetectable, the honey bourbon added just a tiny extra bit of sweetness to the bread that you just can’t get from sugar. Overall, it was just yummy. I fought my impulse of wanting to add chocolate chunks but I may have to next time. Toasted walnuts would also go extremely well in this cake.

I don’t know what it is about banana bread, but it makes me want to intentionally kill all my bananas just so I can make more!

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Deb’s Jacked Up Banana Bread – adapted from Smitten Kitchen

  • 2 to 4 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 3/4  light brown sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon honey bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Up to 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Mix in the sugar, egg, vanilla and bourbon, then the spices. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix.
  3. Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

Lucy’s Tips:

  • Like nuts in your banana bread? Throw them in! Toasted and chopped walnuts or pecans would work fabulously in here. Same goes with chocolate chunks (just don’t toast them!) 
  • Want a super chocolatey banana bread loaf? Deb got your back.
  • I used honey bourbon but feel free to use whatever dark rum you have, or leave it out entirely if you’d like. 
  • The original recipe uses 1/3 cup of salted butter. If using, omit the 1/2 teaspoon of salt. 
  • Did you notice this is a one bowl wonder?