Friday, June 4, 2010

vegan chocolate + chile shake

an exquisite creation

My craving for sweet food begins when I wake up and has been known to last all day long.  I want to reduce the refined sugar in my diet because these empty calories don't do my body any favors, and it is swimsuit season, after all.  GT's Kombucha has been helping me curb my cravings, and I recently came across a new weapon against my mental desire for sweets: shakes made with frozen bananas.

Frozen bananas behave like ice cream when added to shakes, providing a creamy texture and natural sweetness. While we don't care for this thick consistency in our fruit smoothies, my husband and I agree that bananas are excellent for emulating milkshakes.  Of course, along with the texture attributes, bananas also contribute their characteristic flavor, but it complements a wide array of fruits, nut butters, and spices.  Adding cocoa powder plus a few dates produces a toothsome snack without refined sugar.  This version is a nod to the popular combination of chocolate and chile, particularly to the trend-setting Vosges chocolate bar.  A little dose of capsicum adds heat and complexity to the mellow cocoa flavor, and the warm spice of cinnamon completes the exotic blend.

The recipe below yields a subtle heat that should be approachable to most people, and you may find yourself increasing the amount of chile in future batches.  Ancho is poblano pepper in its dried form, and its flavor is on the mild, sweet side of the chile pepper spectrum.  It is requently included in mole sauce, and whole anchos are easily found with Mexican groceries.  Cayenne powder introduces a warm heat that dissipates quickly, instantly tamed by the sugar of the banana.  While I like to have this shake for breakfast, others might find it a more appropriate later in the day, and it is decadent enough for serving as dessert.

When I start the day with some version of a chocolate banana shake, I feel satisfied for hours.  Amazingly, I'm able to skip second breakfast, and can even dismiss sweets that might present themselves later in the day.  This is accomplished with no refined sugar and very little fat!  If unsweetened almond milk is used, I estimate that this recipe contains less than 400 calories and 20 grams of sugar.  Let's compare this to the chocolate shake from Sonic that I would have eaten in my pre-vegan days: 568 calories, 25.6 g fat (17.9 g saturated fat), 49 g sugar!  And absolutely no fiber, which may explain why it was less satisfying than this shake, with about 12 grams of fiber.

I feel really good about the "milk"shakes in my life, and I hope that you indulge in something equally pleasurable.

Vegan Chocolate + Chile Shake
makes one 12-ounce shake

1 1/2 banana, peeled, cut into chunks, and frozen
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 medjool dates
ice cubes
4 oz non-dairy milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract (if using plain non-dairy milk)
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground ancho chile
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Add all ingredients to blender.  Blend until smooth according to manufacturer's instructions.
  • Pour into a glass and enjoy!


  1. Ooooh I love the idea of adding hot pepper to a smoothie. Chocolate and chiles are such a great combination

  2. What a lovely idea. I have frozen banana smoothies and shakes for breakfast most mornings.

    Discovering frozen banana ice cream changed my life for the better.

  3. This sounds really good! I bet it would be awesome on a hot summer afternoon or in the evening.

  4. I've been making this shake (without the heat) for years & can attest to it's greatness! I can't wait to try it with the chile. I'm sure Marty will really enjoy it!

  5. That looks Ah-Mazing! Seriously, makes me reconsider all of my comparatively wimpy shakes... Love the idea of a cold, refreshing shake with spicy flavors!

  6. I've never seen a chile shake but it looks cool! After all... my sister is from Chile ;)

  7. Great idea to add the spices to this! I am going to have to give this one a try. Mmm!

  8. Having this for breakfast as I type. Its absolutely magnificent. Thank you for the great recipe vegans!