A Berry Date Smoothie with a Kick (+ Giveaway)

UPDATE: The winner is Lindsey Hepler! Thanks everyone for entering, and congratulations to Lindsey!


THIS THIRD WEEK OF AUGUST HAS BEEN a night on Nashville’s walking bridge, traffic whooshing by on the distant interstate, a ferry boat passing beneath, my head against Tim’s shoulder while I tell him, “You know, if I lived a thousand years on the planet all by myself, I’d never figure out how to build a boat like that,” and us moving to the other side of the bridge to keep watching it, following it, mesmerized by the turning showboat gears like little children looking at a train; a twilight picnic next to soccer practice, SUVs dropping off and picking up preteens, moms calling out I love yous to their running kids just as the golden hour fades; spiders’ webs so big, constructed around our back door overnight, that I shriek when I see them, even though the streets are sleeping in the early-morning sunrise; long-distance phone conversations with wise voices; surprise hydrangeas; oven disasters that send us to share dinner on the front porch (also covered in spiders’ webs, for the record, because those spiders! they are something!); and, along with these things, a whole lot of good meals to eat.

We’ve had Kathryn’s buckwheat almondĀ cake (but with peaches!), smashed potatoes to use up our pantry stash, Erin’s brilliant einkorn tortillas, fresh tomatoes on homemade bread (recipe soon, we hope!), peach crisp adapted from the brilliant David Leite, pesto to use up our basil, cucumber water to use up our cucumbers, and, this morning for the third time in the last few weeks, this berry date smoothie.


We’re calling this a berry date smoothie with a kick because it’s the kind of smoothie that starts off sweet and then surprises you, almost burns you, as the hot, hot kick of cayenne hits the back of your throat. You want to reach for a glass of water when it hits, but then the rest of the smoothie comes instead, and then you want to say, “Do it again!” and so you take another swig. Like a lot of things in life, it starts off good and then gets bad and then it’s good again. Life’s full of ups and downs, my friend Jacqui texted me last week. Ain’t that the truth. Friends who love you, friends who betray you; new opportunities, new losses; ups and downs; highs and lows; the crazy burn replaced by the sweet, sweet comfort.


I guess I’ve been tasting that sort of comfort this week, as what felt like empty hands became, just like that, remarkably full ones. I’ve looked at Tim so many times these last few days and been overwhelmed by his kindness and patience and ability to sit on the sofa for hours with me, talking without feeling bored. I’ve looked at my life of freelance hours and been awed that this introverted girl gets to work from home. I’ve been stunned by the real—not theoretical—comfort of a God who is Father and Friend and Shepherd and Lover of my soul.

And the thing I keep thinking when I think about these things and I think about this smoothie is how I didn’t grow up wanting the kick of cayenne. I’d avoid spicy things at all costs. But somehow, somewhere along the line, once I’d tried hot foods enough to know what comes after that initial shock, once I learned to trust through the hot moment for what comes next, I stopped being afraid. It makes me wonder about the changes being worked in us, each of us, hot moment by hot moment, discomfort by discomfort. You start off afraid, but your toe is pushed in, and you’re braver. Then you’re scared again, but Providence pushes you deeper still. Suddenly, one day, you’re the girl craving curries; suddenly, one day, you’re the girl prone to trust.

So the giveaway! Let’s talk about it! Lifefactory sent us some of its glass travel bottles recently, and we love them. BPA-free, glass, silicone sleeves, easy-grab lids and dishwasher-safe cleaning. We’re thrilled to host Lifefactory’s giveaway of one 16-ounce bottle (as pictured in this post) here. The Rafflecopter widget explains how to enter. Contest ends Tuesday morning at 12 a.m.
**Only restrictions are US delivery only. Sorry, everybody else!
Food Loves Writing Lifefactory Giveaway

A Berry Date Smoothie with a Kick
Makes four-and-a-half cups of smoothie, for about two large or four small servings

All metaphors aside, feel free to adjust the cayenne to your tastes—Leave it out if you like. But even if you’re brave with spices, start off slow and add more. You’d be surprised how far a little heat can go.

4 cups raw goat’s milk (or 2 cups kefir, 2 cups milk; or your milk of choice)
6 medjool or 8 to 9 deglet noori dates, pitted
Just under a cup of blueberries
Just over a cup of strawberries
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (even 1/8 will give a kick, so only go higher if you like spice)
1 to 2 heaping tablespoons of cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
2 probiotic capsules, like these (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a high-powdered blender like a Vitamix. Taste and adjust if you like before pouring.


  1. says

    This post made me smile, and hearing about that glass travel bottle made me want one. Can’t wait to catch up at book club…

  2. says

    i love your honesty, shanna. i hope this next week has more ups than downs for you. also, i’m with you on the spider webs! there have been so many in and around our house this year, too!

  3. says

    Just the kind of smoothie I needed to spark up my mornings. My old green smoothies were getting …. Boring. Sadly. Anyway, can’t wait to try this one! Also, that lifefactory bottle … I’ve been lusting after one of those for a while!

  4. Christine Cummings says

    I love the analogy that you draw between life and the experience of drinking this smoothie. Thanks for inspiring!

  5. alanna says

    I love a good chocolate banana smoothie with tons of spinach. Sadly, I don’t have a good blender and globs of spinach are not that appetizer! Where do I get a good deal on vitamix?

    • says

      Alanna, Have you tried Costco? Or our own Life Fitness Academy can get you a deal on a refurbished one. Email us if you want their contact info! : )

  6. Allison says

    I’m a traditionalist with smoothies: variety of berries, yogurt, bananas, and a squeeze of honey.

  7. Julie says

    Finally, a real bottle with a protective coating, very nice! The smoothie looks wonderful too. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity.

  8. says

    loved that you used goat’s milk for this! I recently tried goat’s milk caramel. . which was delicious! love how you describe your week in August and your relationship with your husband. . so sweet! and I love these glass travel bottles!

  9. Katy says

    I love this post. And I love smoothies. I make my favorite with almond milk, flax seed, spinach, mango & pineapple. I’ll have to try this one. think I would like the kick.

  10. Shari says

    I love your blog! My favorite smoothie has brazil nut milk, avocado, lime juice, tumeric, romaine lettuce and frozen pineapple.

  11. NIki says

    I like the idea of a kick!!! I love making smoothies, they get me through the day sometimes!!!

  12. says

    What lovely thoughts, Shanna. Thank you so much for sharing. I can’t wait to try a smoothie with a cayenne kick–Yum!

    Do you do a herd share to get your raw goats milk? There is a lovely farm about 45 min from my house that does milk shares, and I went out to visit a few months ago, but haven’t fully committed yet… your mention of raw goats milk has me thinking I should!

    • says

      Hi Lindsey,
      Sorry for the delayed response! We get our goats milk from a farmer we know. It is not technically a herd share, although we have done those in the past and they are a great way to structure things. We just worked out a private agreement. : )

  13. Gali says

    How wonderful! Thank you so much for this Giveaway.
    My Favorite sweet Smoothie is: 1 Mango, Juice from 1 Lime and 1 cup Coconut water.
    as for my Favorite Green Smoothie, it would have to be: 3 Romain Leaves, 2 Kale Leaves, 1/2 Pineapple, 1/2 Mango, 1/4 cup Fresh Parsley and 1/2 inch Fresh Ginger.

  14. Juli says

    Always love your posts. My favorite smoothie is beets, 3 types of ginger, almond milk, and a bit of banana. My husband calls it devil juice but since he doesn’t appreciate it, I wouldn’t share with him anyway.

  15. says

    I hope your next week goes wonderfully!

    My fav smoothie is frozen pineapple, frozen peaches, and orange juice. So good!

  16. says

    I don’t have a blender at the moment, but my favorite smoothie to get at the best grocery store in the world (Good Food Store) is a chocolate, banana, peanut butter smoothie!

  17. meredith says

    I like making a green smoothie with spinach, almond butter, banana, yogurt and ice

  18. jacquie says

    I don’t believe I have ever had a smoothie but so many people seem enamored by them perhaps I should give one a try.

  19. says

    Oh boy. This is so sad. I can’t tell you my favorite smoothie because I don’t even have one! Steve and I have been discussing the need for a juicer/blender. We have our eye on a Vitamix, though, and I’m dreaming about how much more healthy we could become with such a thing : )

    p.s. I *can* tell you that I am a huge fan of Lifefactory’s baby bottles. I had a bright yellow one for Jobie and loved its quality! : )

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