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!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hello again! Bet you didn’t think you’d see another post from me this week! As promised, I began ramping up my cookie production this year and will possibly post twice as much this month. It’s a little nerve-wracking but I am up for the challenge!

When planning this month’s #CookieCraziness (isn’t my hashtag for this year’s cookies awesome?), one of the top cookies was a peanut butter one. I LOVE peanut butter, so this was a no brainer. However, plain peanut butter cookies can be boring and monotonous. I’m not into that with my cookies, so chocolate chips were the obvious solution.

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Peanut butter cookies aren’t necessarily a Christmas-y cookie. Like, when I think Christmas cookies, peanut butter ones are the furthest from my mind. Everyone else thinks of chocolate and peppermint everything. I usually go with sugar or gingerbread, which I’ll get to sometime later. I don’t know but I feel like peanut butter doesn’t even have an appropriate season. All the more reason why it belongs (in cookie form) with the holidays.

The main ingredient in these beauties is the peanut butter; the star of the show! Consider using chunky peanut butter in these cookies for added texture and to add on to the PB taste. I’m not about that chunky PB life, though; I love natural and smooth peanut butter. I get the huge jars at Whole Foods all the time because I make granola for my Greek yogurt regularly. Obviously, I need to have tons of the stuff on hand at all times because when I’m not making granola, there are PB&Js to be made (with grape jelly exclusively).

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According to the recipe, there’s supposed to be a double hit (or triple if you opt for chunky) of PB; the second by way of peanut butter chips. I once bought a couple bags of those from the one time they had them at Trader Joe’s. They were so good, I can’t even recall what I made with them. I had chocolate chips leftover from making these, so I used twice as many chocolate chips in this batch.

Now, let me just praise the actual cookie dough for one second. A DREAM to work with. Came together beautifully and handled like a dream. I’ve never seen such clean scoops of cookie dough come out of my mixing bowl. Barely any scraps and no sticking! Speaking of sticking, I used my new silicone mats for my half sheet pans. I had to get a pair because my parchment paper never fits. Can I just tell you how much I love them? I love them. Absolutely adore them. Cookies slid off no problem, they’re easy to clean, and look cute too. SO glad I got them!

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The cookies were INSANE. I found myself eating all of the scraps and several cookies before they even made the plate; they’re THAT good. Very peanut buttery, with the chocolate chips as backup. Think of PB and chocolate as partners in crime, or good cop/bad cop except they’re both the good cops. They just go together! The cookies themselves are soft but sturdy, with a little crunch from the granulated sugar they’re coated in before baking. You can even still see the traditional fork marks from the slight smush they need before going into the oven. They were as dreamy as their own cookie dough. When the cookie dough works, you just know the cookie will too!

Hopefully I’ve convinced you to consider peanut butter cookies as a holiday cookie. They may not scream Christmas but folks will be screaming with joy upon eating them this season. Either way, I think these non-conventional holiday cookies belong on your cookie roster.

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#CookieCraziness posts:

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies – barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 36 cookies

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup peanut butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • Granulated sugar for rolling/sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment (or those nifty silicone liners). Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, place a good amount (maybe a 1/4 cup; separate from the amount needed to make the cookies) of granulated sugar for rolling the cookies later.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and peanut butter until smooth and fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until the mixture is smooth. Add the egg and mix until fully combined. Finally, add the milk and vanilla.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and stir until completely combined. With a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate chips. Using a cookie scoop, a tablespoon, or two teaspoons, drop the dough into the bowl with the granulated sugar. Completely coat the dough ball and transfer to the prepped baking sheet. With a fork, gently press the dough down but do not flatten completely. You can press the cookie with the fork twice, each in a different direction, to get the signature pattern.
  4. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden brown around the edges. The cookies may look under done but they are. Let them cool on the pan for a minute or two before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Lucy’s Tips

  • I preferred baking them 12 minutes for a sturdier cookie that was still soft and slightly chewy. For a lighter cookie, aim for the lower amount of time. 
  • If you don’t feel like pressing with a fork, any smooth (or not smooth) surface can work. For example, a spoon, shot glass, offset spatula, etc. Just don’t go crazy pressing them down with anything!
  • I got 36 cookies with a #50 disher/scoop. Amounts of cookies vary depending on the size of the scoop/disher/spoon. The bigger the disher/spoon/scoop, the fewer the cookies. 
  • To make these extra festive, consider rolling them in colored sugar!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola

I left you guys with an amazing granola bar recipe a couple weeks ago, and am back with another. This one isn’t for bars, though but is equally as delicious.

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The same week I posted about these bars, Dana from Minimalist Baker, posted this super simple recipe for granola. If you don’t know who Dana (or her husband John) is or what Minimalist Baker is about, check out their blog right here. I love receiving their emails about new recipes because as the blog title says; their recipes are minimalistic and delicious with little to no effort, and there are no laundry list of ingredients. They keep it simple, straightforward and their pictures are mouthwateringly beautiful. I knew that when I saw this recipe in my inbox, despite the fact that I had just posted granola bars, I had to make it. It was like fate or something. Either way, I got it done.

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Dana’s recipe is already as simple as it gets in terms of ingredients and process. The recipe as is happens to be vegan, which is awesome already, and can even be gluten free. I am neither of those things, so the only non-vegan ingredients in mine was dark brown sugar and real chocolate chips. Another thing I love about this recipe is that you aren’t limited to using the mix-ins listed. I don’t know if Dana intended to make this recipe customizable but I can already think up several variations that would be awesome with this same formula. What I’m trying to say is that this won’t be the last time you’ll see granola on this blog!

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I love putting my granola on Greek yogurt but this stuff is good on its own, in a bowl with milk, or maybe even atop a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It’s crunchy and super peanut buttery. The coconut oil in there adds an extra hint of nuttiness; which was already there from the toasty and golden brown oats. It’s not super sweet, so it doesn’t overwhelm the palate. And the chocolate chips are a nice unexpected explosion of creaminess with each bite.

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I’ve been piling it on my yogurt since I made it, and am secretly hoping the stash is never ending. At least I have an idea of flavor combos to make next!

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola – barely adapted from Minimalist Baker

Serves 10 (ahem, if you’re lucky)

  • 3 cups + 2 Tbsp rolled oats
  • 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup creamy natural salted peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • Pinch of salt (optional)
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 340F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the oats and the brown sugar together. Set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine the melted coconut oil, peanut butter, agave, and the salt (if adding) over low heat. Stir until just melted and combined.
  4. Pour the peanut butter mix over the oats and quickly stir to incorporate. Make sure all the oats are moistened. Spread oat mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Evenly distribute the oats on the pan, and bake for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown. Stir once after the first 15 minutes, and stand by to make sure it doesn’t burn!
  5. Remove from the oven and toss to release the heat. Cool completely on the pan.
  6. Either on the pan, in a large bowl, or directly in your storage container of choice, add the chocolate chips and stir. Enjoy your super easy and delicious granola any way you please! Keeps fresh for up to two weeks. Freeze after that.

Lucy’s Tips:

  • Measure the coconut oil in your measuring cup before the peanut butter. That way, your measuring cup is already greased which will make the peanut butter easier to pour out of the cup!
  • I added a pinch of salt into the mix for funsies but feel free to omit it. 
  • Make sure the granola is completely cool before adding the chips!