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Holiday Comfort Food: Pecan Pie Smoothie
Ahhh, Thanksgiving is upon us and all the meal planning is taking over this now-virtual holiday. I LOVE seeing all the plans for cornbread dressing, Thanksgiving brunch, and pecan pies, but have you thought about taking a holiday classic and turning it into a more versatile, healthy version of itself? Go ahead and enjoy that slice of traditional pecan pie at your meal, but get your TRUE pecan fix with this delicious and healthy pecan pie smoothie!
Pecans are a true comfort food for me, especially since they have quite the buttery undertones (which is also why I love using pecan oil). You get to enjoy lots of nutrients and a wonderful flavor that is so YUM either made salty or sweetened up a bit. No, you don't need to add Karo syrup to these smoothies; rather I made these a little more healthy with some pure maple syrup and vanilla extract. If you want to include even less sugar, consider using Stevia or Truvia substitutes. Spices make this feel like a dessert for breakfast, just without the guilt. And you know what? We've gotten this far into 2020 meaning we can eat dessert for breakfast with NO shame (but, really, there's no reason to avoid this anyway 😉).
Ok, what really is a pecan pie smoothie?
It's really simple! A traditional banana base with buttery pecans, silky milk, a hint of sweetness, and pinch of spices that make this a smoothie reminiscent of pecan pies from years past. Added flax meal and plant-based ingredients make this particular recipe vegan-friendly and overall healthy. Pecan pie smoothies MIGHT just be the next big thing. What do ya think?
Unless you have a really powerful blender, go ahead and blend in stages, as outlined in the recipe. Adding the maple syrup and vanilla to a smooth mixture allows for even distribution. I find it best to add ice at the end, so you can control the final consistency!
Raw pecans: Packed with nutrients, who doesn't love a delicious pecan? Buttery, flavorful, packed with nutrients...the list continues. I do suggest soaking these for a few hours before blending. Soaking nuts actually makes them easier to absorb and more nutritious for us. Want some additional details? Learn more about the benefits of soaking nuts before eating.
2 medium-large or 3 small bananas: Use fresh or pop in the freezer (preferable) to help give the smoothie a solid foundation.
Plant-based milk: I enjoy plant-based milk and in this recipe, I love soy milk. We only keep unsweetened, original plant-based milk on hand, but you can use practically any substitute.
Flax meal: Acts as a thickening agent and adds Omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber (plus, a smidge of protein). Never hurts to add a little health to the mix!
Ice: It's a smoothie. 😉
Pure vanilla extract: Really adds the pinch of sweetness that makes it similar to a pie flavor.
Pure maple syrup: I used this as a substitute for brown or granulated sugar; though, it is still best to use it in small doses.
Ground cinnamon: Similar to the addition of pure vanilla extract, ground cinnamon lends a warm flavor that helps give this "pie vibes."
Coconut sugar: I added coconut sugar to the aquafaba whipped cream to lend sweetness. Additionally, I added pure vanilla extract to round out the sweet flavor. Again, this is optional based upon your preferences and whether or not you plan to add a topping. You do you!
Optional Whipped Topping
Aquafaba: I keep aquafaba frozen after I gather it from draining chickpeas. Whenever I need, I just pop out the pieces and thaw them before using. This is for the topping, so is an optional step.
Pecan Pie Smoothie
- Stand mixer (optional, for whipped topping)
- 2 cups ice
- 1 ½ cups milk we used soy milk
- 1 ¼ cups raw pecans soaked and drained
- 2 frozen bananas
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon flax meal
- ½ tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Aquafaba Topping (Optional - Not Included in Nutrition Facts)
- 4 tablespoons aquafaba
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract add more to taste
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar add more to taste, or substitute with sweetener of your choice
- Combine pecans, bananas, flax meal, and soy milk in blender and blend until smooth. You will have very small pieces of pecans that add golden flecks to the liquid.1 ¼ cups raw pecans, 2 frozen bananas, 1 tablespoon flax meal, 1 ½ cups milk
- Add maple syrup, pure vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Blend again to incorporate.¼ cup pure maple syrup, ½ tablespoon pure vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Add ice and blend until you reach desired consistency. If needed, thin with more milk or water.2 cups ice
Aquafaba Topping (Optional)
- Add aquafaba, sugar, and vanilla extract to bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on high for several minutes, or until the aquafaba reaches stiff peaks. Add more sugar, if desired.4 tablespoons aquafaba, 1 tablespoon coconut sugar, 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Add a large dollop to smoothies and sprinkle with spice of your choice, if desired.
- Use the milk of your choice.
- Add sweetener of your choice if maple syrup is not available. Though Truvia and granulated sugar work well, add a few teaspoons at a time to ensure you reach the desired sweetness level.
A Few Tips for the Smoothie
There isn't much you need to do to "make or break" this recipe, which is probably one of the things I love most about smoothies in general. Here are some simple steps you can take to ensure you enjoy every sip:
- Blend in stages. Unless you have a powerful Ninja or Vitamix blender - and even if you do - I suggest blending in stages. Add the sweetener after most of the "roughage" has been blended to a smooth consistency, so the sweetness gets evenly distributed.
- Soak the nuts for a few hours before using - for health and taste benefits.
- Thicken with more ice or thin with some water, depending upon how thick you prefer your smoothies. Just be sure you add these incrementally, so you don't tip the scale too far one direction or the other.
- Even if using frozen bananas, make sure they are more ripe than not.
- In terms of substitutions, you can use regular milk, a different sweetener, and a different topping of your choice.
- The topping is TOTALLY optional. In reality, I made the aquafaba whipped cream for a fun aesthetic. These smoothies are delicious solo, so a topping is truly extra.
Have you ever enjoyed a dessert-adjacent smoothie concoction? What's your favorite? I do hope you'll add this to the holiday brunch list. And, if you need another side dish, check out this slow cooker vegan sweet potato casserole that will steal the show. Until next time, cheers to your hearth, health, and happiness!