Searching For Ambrosia: Cold Food For Hot Days

Screen shot 2014-03-18 at 12.47.54 PMSummer is here and what that means in terms of food is cooler and lighter. Even my morning cup of coffee ends up being poured over ice some days. Smoothies take the place of oatmeal; salads replace cooked vegetables and when it comes to desserts, chilled fruit is my favorite. Chilled summertime fruit for me usually means watermelon and I will keep some in my fridge almost everyday until the season is over, but sometimes I want something a little more decadent, something creamy and maybe a bit more sweet.
Ice cream is probably the number one dessert during the summer and with the many varieties and flavors  available, you could eat a different one every day and still not get through them all by the time cool weather arrives. As much as I would like to take on that challenge, I know my waistline would not survive, and I decided to search for a healthier version.
In my quest for healthy ice cream, what I actually found was not ice cream at all, but a substitute for the dessert I knew I would have to try.
The recipe from thekitchn.com is not really a recipe, but instructions on how to use just one ingredient to make a really good soft-serve ice cream alternative. To make this dessert you need a blender or food processor and…a banana. Obviously, if you’re not a fan of banana, go no further, but if you are, continue on.
Screen shot 2014-07-01 at 12.20.55 PMI keep bananas in my freezer all the time because I use them in smoothies, but to make this dessert, you should only freeze the fruit one to two hours. A little planning is necessary, but the pay off is a dessert that is creamy, healthy and delicious. Use as many bananas as you wish, slice them onto a paper plate or into a freezer-safe container and place in the freezer. The first batch I tried I kept in for one hour. Processing the banana slices only took a minute to become creamy and smooth, and it really did resemble the silkiness of ice cream and scooped up nicely, although a little soft. This first attempt, I decided to keep plain in order to test the results of the finished product. I loved the texture, but for as much as I love bananas, I did find the flavor a little overwhelming. The website gave additional suggestions such as peanut butter, honey, Nutella, cocoa and cinnamon. All sound wonderful, but I wanted to keep it as healthy as I could.
For my next batch, I kept the banana slices in longer, actually too long because I got busy and forgot about the freezing bananas. After about four hours, I processed the frozen bananas and instead of a creamy concoction, what I ended up with was something that looked like small banana “pearls.” I added Greek yogurt to add some protein and hopefully smooth it out, which it did, but it also made the mixture softer than before, but still thick enough to enjoy. I knew it would need some sweetening with the plain yogurt, so I added a little honey and cinnamon as well. It was very good and the additional ingredients tempered the strong banana flavor. I knew I had found a good summertime treat to add to my list of cold foods for hot weather.
Of course, I was also left wondering about the many variations I could try next and I look forward to experimenting with some of them. The last time I was on thekitchn.com website, I saw a picture of something else I will absolutely have to try next, dark chocolate ice cubes. Looks like my freezer’s going to stay busy this summer.
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Rose Klein

Written by Rose Klein