After months of consuming pretty much nothing but overnight oats for breakfast, I had to finally cut the cord. While staying in the capital city of Podgorica, Montenegro, I demanded that we eat something other than oats. Anything but oats. As luck would have it, I found some natural peanut butter, vegan chocolate hazelnut spread, and rice cakes, and I knew exactly what to do with them: make a simple breakfast of nut butter and banana rice cakes.
When I studied abroad in Madrid in 2004, my classmates became overjoyed when a care package arrived containing jars of peanut butter. Finding the childhood staple in Madrid meant making the long trek to the expensive “American store,” which contained household brands like Kraft, Heinz, and of course Jif and Skippy. I never liked the creamy spread until well into my 20s, so I never understood the thrill of the stuff and was perfectly fine living without it for six months.
That all changed when I became a vegetarian and later vegan, eight years ago, as my dependence on (and taste for) peanut butter increased significantly in that time. I practically use it on a daily basis, whether in my green smoothies, as a sidekick to my apples, or as the regular star of my desserts. So as we prepared for our European adventure 11 years after my study abroad experience, I finally understood the need for peanut butter.
Make no mistake, however, don’t you try and serve me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The dry, sticky meal still makes not sense to me. I’ll only force it down if it’s a last resort.
Prior to departing on our journey, we stocked up on as many packs of Justin’s and Wild Friends peanut butter as we could justify out of fear that peanut butter would be a rare find throughout Europe and we wouldn’t see it again for over a year.
Throughout Europe, nut butters of all kinds were widely available. In South America, it can be hit or miss. Most cities almost always have the sugar-laden, palm oil-heavy “peanut butter” that I refuse to purchase, however, in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru, I could easily find freshly ground peanut butter in most fruit markets.
Many a health food or large grocery store have come to our rescue. I once found the mother lode in Bulgaria when I happened upon a woman who made her own and sold in it large jars. Yes, I bought a giant jar of peanut butter and carried it around on my bicycle tour. Some items are just worth the weight.
While I can’t make my green smoothies or most of my raw desserts on the road, I can make a simple and sustaining breakfast featuring peanut butter (or any nut or seed butter, for that matter, we don’t discriminate).
I’m talking about rice cakes, smothered with a easy cinnamon peanut butter sauce. If you’re one of those banana-loathing folk (such as I used to be), apples make a great replacement.
And when you discover vegan chocolate hazelnut spread, go ahead and put that on, too. German-based DM had a vegan brand available in most markets throughout Europe. That store was a paradise. And let’s sprinkle some cacao nibs on top while we’re at it.
With just six ingredients, these nut butter and banana rice cakes comes together quickly, taking little time away from the frenzied morning routine of packing up camp and heading out early to beat the heat or traffic.
- 2-3 bananas
- 8 rice cakes
- vegan chocolate hazelnut spread
- Cinnamon Peanut Butter Sauce
- 1/3 cup peanut butter (or other nut or seed butter), preferably smooth
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- pinch salt
- 1-2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2-3 tbsp plant-based milk or water. Add 2T to start, adding more as needed.
Mix ingredients for the cinnamon peanut butter sauce together in a bowl. The sauce should be thick, but still easy to spread
Slice the bananas into thirds, then slice each third in half lengthwise (see photo), set aside.
Spread the cinnamon peanut butter sauce over the rice cake, just like you’re frosting a cake.
Top each rice cake with two banana slices, seed side down.
Sprinkle with raw cacao nibs if you’ve been carrying them around since Sweden ('cause you’re afraid you’ll never see them again).
Note: This makes enough to cover eight rice cakes. If you’re lucky enough to have found vegan chocolate hazelnut spread on your adventure, cut the recipe in half and spread the remaining rice cakes with that. Do it. Trust me.