September 2, 2013 Leave your thoughts
This year at my school, there’s a new addition in the cafeteria. It’s not a salad bar like I was hoping for, but an ice cream bin. I’m not talking about frozen fruit bars, here: I’m talking about giant ice cream bars and cups covered in chocolate and brightly colored sauces. I peeked at the ingredients one day out of curiosity, and it was DISGUSTING. I’m not even sure if there was milk or cream in these things—what really caught my eye was the high-fructose corn syrup and modified starch and bean powders. I’m all for real ice cream made with good-quality dairy (hey, I did eat five scoops of it for lunch when I was in France…), but this is just wrong.
The irony? My school has also outlawed bake sales this year, because they’re “unhealthy.” Excuse me? This is the same institution that sells pizza for lunch daily, rarely offers any fresh produce, and keeps all kinds of candy and chips stocked up in the school store. How is ice cream a healthier choice?
In protest, I have created this healthy, delicious ice cream sundae, which I happily ate the entirety of. Aside from straight-up fruit, this is pretty much the most allergy-friendly dessert you can eat. It’s gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, ANDsoy-free, plus it has no added sugar. (If you are allergic to bananas, I am terribly sorry.) The ice cream itself only has three ingredients, and it’s all REAL. FOOD. I don’t want to feed you beaver anal gland. (An ingredient labeled as “castoreum,” found in many store-bought vanilla ice creams and fruit syrups.)
So, go bananas and get started!
You can make this recipe as big or as small as you want, but figure about a banana per person. I froze 6 bananas, which made PLENTY of ice cream for myself, my parents, and my two friends.
The riper your fruit is, the sweeter your ice cream will be, so I suggest using bananas whose peels are speckled brown or darker. Make sure you peel your bananas and put them in a freezer bag AT LEAST twelve hours in advance, preferably overnight. Be careful not to freeze your bananas for too long, either, or they’ll get super icy and tough to break up.
To make the ice cream, simply chop the bananas into chunks and throw them in the food processor. Let it run for a while and stop it every few minutes to scrape down the sides and help everything blend smoothly.
When only a few chunks remain, add in 1/3 to 1/2 cup of sunflower seed butter OR smooth peanut butter (salted or unsalted, it’s your preference) and 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract. Your ice cream will not be a pleasant color, but I promise it’ll taste good.
Keep the food processor going until the mixture is just smooth, about 2 or 3 minutes longer. It should be homogeneous and creamy, just like soft-serve ice cream that’s been in the sun for a bit.
Now, you can eat it as is, but your dessert will be much more like a cold soup than ice cream. I recommend scooping everything out into a big glass dish or plastic container, covering it well, and placing it in the freezer for 4 or 5 hours to harden up.
Let the ice cream sit out for 5 to 10 minutes before digging in or assembling into sundaes.
Looking for some other flavors? Here are a few to get you started.
- Nutella: replace the sunflower seed/peanut butter with Patella (Paleo Nutella)
- Autumn Apple: replace the sunflower seed/peanut butter with apple butter (NOT applesauce) and add in 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
- Coconut: replace the sunflower seed/peanut butter with coconut butter (NOT coconut milk)
- Fruit: reduce the bananas by half and add in frozen strawberries, cherries, raspberries, or even blueberries
- Tropical: reduce the bananas by half and add in frozen mango cubes, then replace the sunflower seed/peanut butter with coconut butter (NOT coconut milk)
- Go Nuts: replace the sunflower seed/peanut butter with your favorite nut butter (I recommend almond, cashew, or even pecan)
Another great idea is to set up an ice cream bar, especially if you’ll be serving kids or teenagers or just want to impress your guests. That way, everyone can customize his or her ice cream! You can do just a few toppings, or go all out and have a dozen or so. Here’s what I had out:
- Magic Chocolate Shell: simply melt together 2 parts refined coconut oil with 3 parts chocolate. (I used 50 grams of coconut oil and 80 grams of chocolate.) Cool and pour your desired amount over the ice cream, letting it sit for a minute or two to solidify.
- Coconut Whipped Cream: place a can or two of full-fat coconut milk in the fridge overnight, then open it up from the bottom and pour off the liquid-y stuff. Scrape the remaining coconut cream into the bowl of a stand mixer and whip until airy.
- Sliced strawberries
- Slivered almonds
- Cacao nibs
- Pink sea salt
You can also top the ice cream with…
- Fruit: berries, pitted cherries, sliced kiwi, cubed mango, chopped apples, pomegranate seeds, sliced peaches, more bananas…
- Dried fruit: apricots, figs, raisins, tart cherries, dates…
- Chocolate chips
- Toasted coconut
- Roasted, salted nuts: almonds, pistachios, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans…
- A swirl of maple syrup
- Bacon (because hey, why not?)
- A splash of strong coffee (to create an Italian-style affogato)
So, give one of these combos a try and enjoy your ice cream without any guilt. It’s always nice to feel good about eating a dessert.
What is your favorite ice cream combo? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!