Let’s get one thing straight here – I’m not a natural chef, nor would I ever boast any hidden culinary talent. I do, however, absolutely love playing in the kitchen. I do remarkably well when I follow a recipe, but sadly, I don’t have the same luck when improvising. The same goes for my piano playing skills – stick a piece of sheet music in front of me (preferably Chopin) and I’ll get to work. After days of practicing, I’ll perform something pleasant to the ear. Ask me to let my hair down and free-style a jazz solo, and cover your ears – it won’t be pretty! I like having a little guidance.
So I almost fell over the other day when I quickly dumped a few random ingredients from the fridge and cupboard into my blender and came up with…ONE OF THE MOST DELICIOUS SMOOTHIES I HAVE EVER TASTED. Really – that’s how excited I was. A fast breakfast fix on a rushed morning made both me and my boyfriend (willing to try anything) stop, savour and sigh with delight. And then of course I had to get my iPhone out to photograph it because it was a shade of yellow I would happily paint my walls.
I’m not even a huge smoothie fan. It’s not that I don’t think they are delicious and fun to make, it’s just that my constitution calls for warm meals and cooked foods, and cold mornings in London simply don’t leave me wanting non-local fruit and an icy belly. It goes against everything I’ve learned studying Ayurveda and a bit of Chinese medicine through my visits to the acupuncturist to support my weak digestion. Damp conditions in the body do not a smoothie-lover make 🙂 I normally steer clear.
But it’s officially summer now in London and in May I was abroad in Singapore and Thailand where it was actually HOT. With the heat comes a higher tolerance and craving for cold, cooling food and fruit. In Asia, the abundance of fresh coconuts made coconut water my jet lag fighting hydration of choice ($1 compared to £4 in London for a fresh one) and juices and smoothies from the local market (hawker centers in Singapore) had me only too overzealous to try soursop, dragon fruit and guava concoctions made fresh from local produce. So when my boyfriend and I walked by a local green grocer in our London neighbourhood selling crates of nearly too-ripe-to-sell mangoes for £2.50 the lot, we took them straight home to wash, peel, chop and freeze for when we decided to put our new Thai cooking skills to the test.
Well ahead of a Thai cooking fest (still yet to come), there was this slightly warm, slightly rushed June morning and that’s when I accidentally created the tastiest mango-nana smoothie ever, which has become a new obsession. And I am starting to think that it’s little accidents like this that are the catalyst for a whole lot of creativity in the kitchen. In the past I’ve found motivation to cook healthy meals after meeting a chef during travel or falling in love with a particular cookbook/recipe I came across. But now that I’ve created something on my very own without any guidance (but lots of indirect inspiration from travel, and other taste adventures), I have more faith in myself. And these days full of administrative tasks, if I can do anything without being online or staring at print, I’m all over it. Hell, I’m even thinking I’ll dust the piano off and start writing some music…
So you probably want the recipe now, right? Ok. Only thing is I’m going to be a little vague here because I didn’t measure out each of the ingredients and, actually, I think that’s part of the fun in making a signature smoothie to fit your tastes – there’s a lot of alchemy involved. And I never used to think one little ingredient could make a vast difference, but this recipe proves that to be untrue. There is one key ingredient for ME, that makes this heavenly and adds to the fragrance, which is also an element of cooking that should not be overlooked. I didn’t want to mention any particular brand names to keep it simple but will share my favourite coconut water for this in a later post.
Firstly, this smoothie needs to be COLD. So you’ve got to use frozen mango and ideally frozen banana (but if just one is frozen, then you are good to go).
As far as the cacao nibs go, that’s essential to me, but my boyfriend (who likens the smoothie to the creamiest vanilla ice cream…but healthy…) feels they are superfluous. I love the combination of the sweet smoothie taste (really it should be a dessert or a treat rather than a breakfast) with the bitter nibs.
1 frozen banana
1 handful of frozen mango
1 cup coconut water (preferred brand below)
1 cup almond milk
1 large spoonful of cashew butter
1 spoonful (or several of if you like bitter like me) of cacao nibs sprinkled on top
Whiz it up in a blender and maybe add more milk, mango, whatever you want to make it just right for you. It should be nice, cold and creamy and the nibs should sit on top as in the photo. Yum Yum Yum.
I have quite a few other inspired recipes that I’ve tweaked and will get up on my new blog (exciting!) soon but this one is really my baby. And I’m proud of it. There are so many incredibly talented and inspirational food bloggers out there, and I won’t ever keep up with them, but every time I repeat a recipe and find that it’s part of a healthy repertoire, I will share it on my new site as a special food post and I hope you enjoy!
*Okay so now that this post has been up for a while I am announcing my preferred coconut water brand for this recipe – it’s Go Coco. I was slightly concerned at first because even though it won a Taste Award, there were two extra ingredients in there that I wasn’t sure of: natural flavorings and citric acid. I wrote to them and they immediately got back to me to assure me that citric acid was lemon juice added to preserve it and that the natural flavorings were part of their secret recipe (I assume to give it that extra coconutty taste and vanilla-like fragrance) but definitely 100% natural and nothing artificial. So I am happy to keep using this in my smoothie recipe, because it really does enhance the taste and flavour. Thanks Go Coco!