Things to Eat When You Are Useless (Also: A Recipe for Date Smoothies)


Illustration: Tram Nguyen


Hello my name is Lucy and I am in purgatory. I am nine months pregnant, days away (I HOPE) from giving birth, and also from publishing our book, and also from moving apartments. All of my belongings—save, like, two pans, a blender, a million diapers, and a movable bassinet—are in boxes, and even if my kitchen weren’t totally packed up I would not feel like cooking anyway. I barely feel like standing up. All I can bring myself to do is eat things Rob brings to me and watch the French Open via European livestream. While lying on my side. In bed.

This is all just a long-winded way of saying that I have been eating a lot of takeout lately. Sure, I’ve made a few exceptions—like these chocolate chip cookies by Phyllis Grant over at Food52, which are divine (I made them before I packed up my stand mixer); and this pappardelle pasta with arugula-walnut pesto, a truly glorious summer pasta dish—but for the most part it’s been black sesame shave ice from Snowdays, pork wontons with chili-garlic oil from Legend, and an endless rotation of mildly disappointing tacos. I’m not proud, okay? But at this point the mere act of standing up has become an actual physical chore. I am without dignity. I think it’s safe to say that an overindulgence of Sichuan delivery food won’t be the thing that kills me.

I do have one recipe, though, because my doula has been advising me to eat a lot of dates, and I hate dates, so I figured the best way to eat them would be in the form of a decadent peanut butter smoothie. I have a Vitamix (thank you, Rob’s parents, for the best Christmas present ever!), so making a date smoothie takes like two seconds. If you use enough peanut butter, you can’t even taste the dates at all. After I started experimenting with these smoothies I began to suspect they had suddenly become trendy—I immediately spotted a bunch of date smoothie recipes in various food publications. This was frankly mysterious to me, because why would you eat dates in any form unless you absolutely had to? Then, as if as an F you to us all, the New York Times published this piece about how smoothies in general are basically devoid of nutritional value. It left me feeling equal parts schadenfreude and despairing, a unique sensation.

Here’s the thing, though. At the end of the day this smoothie is actually delicious, with or without “health benefits.” And since it is now officially hot out—cold beverage season—I feel I can recommend it in good conscience. So go wild with this thing, and in the process feel free to tell yourself that a) peanut butter is “healthy” and b) dates totalllllly make birthing a human child super short and nearly painless. Look, we all have to do whatever it takes to get through the day.

Actually Delicious Peanut Butter-Banana-Date Smoothie

Makes 1 16-ounce smoothie (or 2 8-ounce glasses)

You will need: a blender

2 cups almond milk
1 banana, peeled
3 dates, pitted (I know, gross!!! But don’t worry, you won’t even be able to taste them.)
2 heaping Tbsp. natural, unsweetened peanut butter
1 tsp. agave syrup
1 dash (or 1/2 tsp., if you want to get scientific) vanilla
1 pinch cinnamon, plus more for dusting

Combine all the ingredients in the blender, and mix on high until all the ingredients are fully incorporated. Definitely do not shortchange the blending process, or you will find little pieces of dates in your smoothie, which obviously is disgusting. Dates are the devil. Did you ever realize they look exactly like cockroaches? Anyway, after your smoothie is fully blended, pour it into a tall glass with a large ice cube, top with a sprinkle of cinnamon if you’re feeling fancy, and drink.

5 Comments Write a comment

  1. Boy – that math question really took it out of me! I have apparently been living under a rock because I only heard about your blog today vis some promo about your book – I think in the Chicago tribune. I’d love to sign up to receive notices when you publish a new post, but can’t quite see where to do that on your site. I’m more of a pavlovian blog reader (sound the bell and I’ll click the link) vs someone who remembers to check sites I like. Do help if you can.

    And did the baby come yet?

  2. Oh my this has got to be the perfect marriage of peanut butter and banana. Love it and thanks for sharing! (my kids thank you even more :)

  3. Annette– we don’t have email notifications yet but we are going to try to set that up! We will post details on that soon. And yes! The baby did come :)

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