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You know all that whining I’ve been doing over having left all of our kitchen electronics behind and not having means to blend or puree anything? I’m mostly done. A little while ago I took the commuter train out to the boonies to hang with my friend Erin who was at home chilling out waiting for the birth of her beautiful baby boy (welcome to the world, Ossian!). She had bought a new food processor and just up and handed me her old one. It’s got a broken handle and a smallish capacity, but it works mighty fine. Thanks, Erin! A few days later my friend Alison talked me through a short cut off the subway for an errand I had to run – a short cut that took me directly through the kitchen section of a large department store. By the time Paul called to see where the heck I was I had acquired a bundt pan (did you ever have a day where you felt like you couldn’t live another second without a bundt pan in your life? me too!) and an immersion blender. So now I can whip, blend, pulse, and puree. My heart is content.

The first thing I did upon getting all this blending power was to bring green smoothies back into my life. I love smoothies, and cramming a bunch of spinach in, which you can hardly taste at all, is a great way to get more greens into your diet.This recipe is inspired by my first visit to Toronto, almost 10 years ago. A friend took me to Fresh and insisted I try this smoothie, and I’ve been making versions of it ever since. Their version isn’t green, but since these days I almost never make a smoothie without chucking in a handful of greens, mine is.

This smoothie is fuel food, to get you ready for the day ahead. It would also make a great recovery drink after a workout, with a nice blend of carbohydrates and proteins for muscle repair. Dates, almond butter, banana, and soy milk combine to bring you a boost of energy and protein, along with a blast of potassium and magnesium. The spinach brings some iron and lots of dietary fiber to the table. It’s a good thing. Try it.

I ran this through a recipe calculator (from sparkpeople.com) and the stats are as follows: 350 calories, 14.8g fat, 15.8g protein, 10.0g dietary fiber. If you’re watching your weight you can ease up on the almond butter, which will considerably reduce the fat. If you’re an athlete and are drinking this for fuel or recovery (I’m leaning towards choosing this for the latter) you may want to boost the almond butter and use a whole banana rather than the half I’ve used here.

One year ago: A Little Link List 

Date Almond Smoothie Recipe:

Frozen bananas are always a little bit sweeter than not, and will thicken your smoothie really nicely, so if you have any on hand this is a good place for them. A note on the milk: I have used (and calculated the nutritional info based on) vanilla soy milk here. I used soy milk because I prefer the taste of it in my smoothies, but I’ll probably try to transition to cows milk here just as I have for my tea. If you change the milk, either to cows milk or to an alternative non-dairy milk, you may want to re calculate the nutrition info.

Makes 1 large smoothie.

Inspired by Fresh


4 dates, chopped

1 cup vanilla soy milk

1/2 large banana

1 packed cup spinach leaves

1 Tbsp almond butter

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

4 – 5 ice cubes


Place the chopped dates in a small bowl and just barely cover with boiling water. Let sit for about 10 min to soften.

Place the softened dates and water together with everything else in your blender. Whirl about until everything is well combined and there are no chunky bits. Pour into a glass and enjoy immediately.


Know what you’re eating: what’s good about this? Oh man, so much. Ready? Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats – this is a healthy fat when consumed in moderation, the same type as is found in olive oil. Almonds are also a good source of manganese, vitamin E (which has antioxidant properties) and magnesium. Dates are a great source of natural sweetness, are rich in antioxidant polyphenols, dietary fiber, potassium, and manganese. Bananas are a great source of concentrated energy and potassium. They are also a very good source of vitamin B6 and a good source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, and manganese. Spinach is an excellent source vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, and calcium (good for your bones), folate, potassium, and vitamin B6 (good for your heart), iron, vitamin B2, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. And, spinach is a great source of dietary fiber. (sources)

Soy milk is a tricky one. There are lots of health benefits that come from consuming whole soy products, like edamame or tempeh which is minimally processed. Unfortunately soy milk is at the extremely processed end of the spectrum, which is one of the reasons I’m trying to wean myself off of it. Try to seek out a soy milk that is made from organic soy beans and made naturally. The ingredients list is enough to put me off of most commercial soy milks.

Do ahead: When I was in the last semester of my undergrad I had an obnoxiously early class a couple of days a week, so I would prep my smoothies the night before. I would put the chopped dates in the bottom of a canister with a bit of water over top, then pile on the spinach and the rest of the ingredients except for the milk and the ice cubes. I’d add those in the morning and blend away, then pour the smoothie into a bottle to pack along to class. If you leave the smoothie in the fridge after it has blended it will start to separate. Just give it a good stir before drinking.

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2012