Bested by Peanut Butter

Well, in fact it was almond butter. And rightfully, this blog post should have be entitled “Banana Crème Smoothie” instead, but if it is all the same, what does it matter, really? I still hang my head in shame just thinking about it…

Four hours earlier…
Breakfast is the most important meal of my day, but not for reasons you may think. For me, it is a way of having a healthy meal that mimics a dessert, without feeling ridden with guilt afterwards.
So, for breakfast this morning, I had a clear idea as to what I wanted to have, i.e. a sort of banana crème smoothie, topped with dark chocolate and perhaps a little something extra – and I had just the thing in mind!

Scrolling through Instagram, we have all been inundated with images of food from time to time. For me personally, I could not help but be mesmerised by all those images containing that signature peanut butter drizzle. It made even the most mundane of dishes look enticing – I swear a plate of bland, boring broccoli could look appetising with some peanut butter drizzled over it!
And so, I set out to find exactly how this technique is achieved. I mean, how difficult could it actually be, right? Famous last words….

So, over the weekend, I had purchased a few samples sachets of nut butter to try out from a brand called ButtaNutt Tree Nut Spreads. Each squeeze pack is about 32 g, retailing for about R15.00 (South African Rands) or so, and to the best of my knowledge, these squeeze packs can be purchased at any Dischem or Wellness Warehouse store in South Africa, as well as off the official ButtaNutt website.

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Squeeze packs of ButtaNutt Tree Nut Spreads in the flavours: Roasted Almond, Cinnamon Macadamia and Honey Almond.

Not being a particular fan of peanut butter, almond butter seemed like a more palatable option for me. I also did not want to commit to purchasing an entire bottle of the stuff, if it meant that it would just lie at the back of my cupboard. And so, these squeeze packs were pretty convenient, allowing me the option of trying out different flavours, before having to settle on the one I most liked.

Take one
After perusing through a few tutorials and website articles on how to drizzle peanut butter, I felt fairly confident to give this a try. In order to achieve the desired consistency for drizzling, the nut butter would have to be microwaved for a short while, and so I did just that. I heated about a spoonful of almond butter, along with some dark chocolate (De Villiers Thins Chocolate) in the microwave for about 30 seconds on the highest power setting.

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ButtaNutt Honey Almond Butter with De Villiers Thins Dark Chocolate.

The end result was sort of strange – the mixture looked thin in some parts and thick in others. I could also see bits of almond in it (probably as the almond butter was a bit on the chunky side), but regardless of this, I was impatient to try it out.

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ButtaNutt Honey Almond Butter with De Villiers Thins Dark Chocolate, microwaved for 30-40 seconds

And, it did not work. Instead of the seductive drizzle I had envisioned in my mind, all I was able to achieve was something resembling blood spatter.

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Trial-run of drizzling the melted chocolate almond butter.

Take two
At this stage, I thought perhaps further heating was required and so, I reheated the almond butter mixture for a little longer, assuming it would improve the consistency somewhat. Big mistake! I ended up leaving it in the microwave for slightly longer than intended and it had turned into an unusable, clay-like paste.

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ButtaNutt Honey Almond Butter with De Villiers Thins Dark Chocolate, microwaved for a longer time.

Almond butter, 1; Me, 0.
At this point, I cannot lie, I felt a bit frustrated. How could something as simple as melting peanut butter (in my case, almond butter) be so difficult? What did I do wrong? Why was it not working? What is the meaning of life? These were some of the questions I began asking myself (well minus the latter).

So, I opted to give this one more try before throwing in the towel and, just as before, I was left with a gloopy mess that came no where near to what I wanted! Grudgingly, I conceded defeat!
I sadly grated some dark chocolate over the smoothie, aggressively toppling the chocolate almond butter to one side and just stared at what I had made. The almond butter just sat there like a pile of mud, and also as a reminder of my failure.

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Banana crème smoothie with large mud puddle.

Verdict
I would like nothing better than to say I hated this smoothie, but to add insult to injury, this smoothie tasted really good.
The smoothie itself had a subtle creaminess, thanks to using the Almond Breeze Barista Blend. Also, incorporating ground flaxseeds gave this smoothie a somewhat nutty flavour, irrespective of using almond butter. And finally, my nemesis, THE ALMOND BUTTER, actually did make this smoothie taste rather delicious, even though admitting this leaves a somewhat bitter taste in my mouth.

So, would I make this again? Yes.
My inability to achieve a peanut butter drizzle did, in no way, deter me from actually enjoying this smoothie. After much deliberation, I think I would have had better results with my drizzle had I used smooth nut butter instead of the chunky variety, but you live and learn.

In any case, I really hope that you give this one a try. And, if you have mastered the art of drizzling peanut butter, I do not wish to know (honestly, how did you do it?!).

This smoothie is:
•  Dairy-free
•  Gluten-free
•  Vegan (If you use almond butter without honey in it)
•  Eggless
•  Soy-free (If you use almond, rice, hemp or coconut milk)

Preparation time: 15 minutes (But for me, it was longer)
Total time: 15 minutes
Serves: 1

Ingredients: 

Banana Crème Smoothie
•   
¼ cup of Cape gooseberries
•   1 banana
•   3 tbsp gluten-free oats
•   1 tbsp chia seeds
•   1 tbsp maca powder
•   1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
•   ¼ tsp cinnamon powder (optional)
•   1 cup of Almond Breeze Barista Blend

Chocolate Almond Butter Puddle
•   
1 tbsp nut butter
•   1 tbsp vegan dark chocolate

Instructions:
1.  Combine all the smoothie ingredients together and blend until smooth.
2.  Taste and adjust accordingly.
3.  For the chocolate almond butter puddle, melt all ingredients in the microwave on a high power level setting for roughly 30-40 seconds. Ensure that you keep a watchful eye over this, as you do not want it to overheat
4.  Serve and enjoy.
5.  Clean up the whirlwind of a mess you left behind.

Winter Flu-fighter Smoothie

This smoothie is:
• Dairy-free
• Gluten-free
• Vegan (If you substitute honey for maple syrup)
• Eggless
• Soy-free (If you use almond, rice, hemp or coconut milk)
• Nut-free (If you use soy, rice, hemp or coconut milk)

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Since being back home, I have been feeling a bit under the weather and I think I may be coming down with the flu. This is somewhat annoying as I have not had the flu in over two years, so there goes my track record. At least, I have brought something back with me from my recent trip to Cape Town…

One trick that I have learnt over the years is that when I start to feel the onset of flu symptoms, it is best that I nip it at the bud immediately. Even more so when I start to feel that distinctive tickle at the back my throat, which is usually indicative of Strep throat, this is when I know I need to use salt water. I learnt about this method years ago while I was in high school and it is rather straightforward – simply gargle with salt water two to three times a day. For the most part, this helps to alleviate a sore throat, by creating an unfavourable environment for the Streptococci bacteria. But this trick alone is insufficient to combat these nasty buggers.

I am sure many of us are familiar with a number of home remedies for combating the common cold or flu, for that matter.
I remember one such remedy that my mother used quite often, and that was Ginger milk. She would make this by simply heating both milk and raw ginger together over a stovetop. Not only did this taste amazing, but it really helped with soothing my throat.

And so, this got me thinking… what if I combined all the flu remedies that I am familiar with into a single smoothie? And so, this flu-flighter concoction was derived.

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I combined a mixture of ginger root, cinnamon, honey and turmeric powder – all of which are known for their antibacterial properties. I also added oranges and Cape gooseberries for my boost of vitamin C, along with my staple smoothie ingredients, i.e. Maca powder, gluten-free oats, chia seeds and almond milk (can be substituted for any milk substitute).

This smoothie tasted quite interesting, but not in a bad way. The addition of the ginger and cinnamon made it spicy, whilst the orange juice added notes of citrus, which balanced everything nicely.
My one regret of this recipe were the raisins. While they did add some sweetness to the smoothie, my blender did not do a good job in blending them sufficiently.

Overall, I would really recommend that you give this a try, especially if you are feeling a bit under the weather or if you are recovering from the flu.

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes
Serves: 1

Ingredients:
• ¼ cup of Cape gooseberries
• ¼ cup of raisins (optional)
• 1 banana
• 1 orange (juiced)
• 1 tbsp of honey
• 3 tbsp gluten-free oats
• 1 tbsp chia seeds
• 1 tbsp maca powder
• ½ tsp turmeric powder
• 1 tsp cinnamon powder
• ~200 ml almond milk (according to your preference on consistency)

Instructions:
1. Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.
2. Taste and adjust, if needed.
3. Serve and enjoy.
4. Clean up the disaster that you left behind in the kitchen.