peanuts

1 food 5 ways, Bananas, Way #2: Banana Split Ice Cream

I love ice cream. I especially love ice cream that you need to chew. I like it to be hard and have other stuff in it. When you are a soy free vegan who doesn’t own an ice cream maker, there aren’t a ton of choices out there that fit that description. One of my favorites growing up was a banana split ice cream. Not a real banana split, but the banana flavored ice cream with the fruit and chocolate mixed in. Lucky for me, Dreena Burton made a cashew banana ice cream that I was able to adapt to replace this childhood favorite.

Banana Split “Ice Cream”



“Ice Cream”:
5 very ripe bananas, cut into large chunks and frozen (1.25 lbs after being peeled about 4 cups frozen chunks)
1/2 cup salted all natural peanut butter (the stir-in-the jar kind)*
1/4 cup agave nectar

*If you have unsalted peanut butter add 1/8″ tsp salt

Add-ins
1/2 cup chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand are vegan, gluten-free, and soy-free)
1/2 cup frozen pineapple, cut in 1/2″ dice
1/2 cup frozen strawberries, cut in 1/2″ dice
1/4 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts

Directions:
Mix the add-ins together in a large mixing bowl. Put bowl in the freezer while you make the ice cream base so you won’t end up with strawberry juice streaks in the “ice cream”.

Put the frozen banana chunks in food processor and pulse until roughly chopped. If you have a small processor, you might want to do that in stages. Even with my large one, it almost tossed the processor around a bit. Add the peanut butter and agave nectar and process until smooth.

Get out the add-in bowl and scrape the “ice cream” on top of the add-ins. Then fold in the add-in ingredients until they are evenly distributed.

Put the entire mixture in a freezer-safe container and freeze ice cream until hard, overnight-12 hours. I put that time on it because at 5 hrs after making it was too soft, when I woke up at the 12 hour mark it was perfect! If it’s too hard to scoop after refreezing, just leave it sitting out for a couple minutes and it should scoop perfectly.

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I kinda hate to admit it, but I ate this for breakfast as soon as it was frozen hard enough. I just couldn’t help myself. Then again, with all that fruit in it, I guess it’s not so bad.
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Liebster Award:

Thanks to Richa from Hobby and More , Mel from Veganise This! and Kelly from Three and a Half Vegans for each awarding me a Liebster. “Liebster” is German and means ‘dearest’ or ‘beloved’ but it can also mean ‘favorite’. The idea behind this award is to bring attention to bloggers who have less than 200 followers and show your support during Vegan Mofo!
The rules of winning this award are as follows:
1. Show your thanks to those who gave you the award by linking back to them.
2. Reveal 5 of your top picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Post the award on your blog.
4. Enjoy the love and support of some wonderful people on the www!
I’d like to award Liebsters to the following:
1. Amanda at In My Vegan Life
2. Celyn at Miso For Breakfast
3. Celeste at Growing Up Veg
4. Cara at Fork And Beans
5. VeggieAmanda at Newman Improved

1 food 5 ways, Bananas, Way #1: State Fair Style Frozen Bananas

I’ve grown up hearing a story about my older brother visiting my grandparents and asking for a piece of fruit. He was offered apples, oranges, grapes and probably some other varieties of fruit. But with a little pout on his face, he refused them all declaring they didn’t have any fruit because there were no bananas.

I’m pretty convinced that most of my family feels this way about bananas. I’d be willing to wager that not one of us goes longer than a day or two without bananas in the house. So it just seemed a natural choice for my next set of posts. (You can read more about bananas at World’s Healthiest Foods)
One of my favorite things to do with bananas is to wait until they get really ripe, cut them in chunks and freeze them. It’s good to have them ready for smoothies. It’s also good to just break off a few chunks and eat them as a not-too-sweet frozen dessert or snack.
But this week is state fair week in NC. Surprisingly, there are quite a few choices I have of things to eat at the fair. But I have to admit I really miss the frozen bananas (which are up to $3 at the fair now!!) So I decided to attempt my own and was pleased with the results.
My original plan was to use Enjoy Life chocolate chips and some coconut oil to get the chocolate coating on the bananas. I’m pretty sure that would be a quick, easy option. However, I made these on Saturday when my sister was over for a visit. She can’t do the cane sugar and also loves frozen bananas. That made me determined to find another option. If you can’t find vegan, soy-free chocolate chips where you are, my sister made it easier on you :)
State Fair Style Frozen Bananas
Makes 6

You will need:
A small saucepan
A freezer safe container, bottom lined with waxed paper (I used a 9″ metal cake pan)

6 Popsicle sticks – see note #6 (6″ lollipop sticks might work too, but I haven’t tried)
3 Large Bananas (about 8″), ripe but not mushy. You could try 6 small ones, but if they aren’t big enough around, they might crack from the popsicle stick.
4 Tbsp Coconut Oil (I didn’t use the extra virgin kind, if you do expect a little bit of a coconut-y flavor)
6 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tbsp Agave
2 tsp arrowroot, mixed with a fork in 1 Tbsp Water
2 Tbsp water
Chopped peanuts, optional (I didn’t measure but probably had about 1/4 cup whole peanuts)

Directions:
If using the large bananas, cut them in half. If using the small bananas, cut one end off so you have a flat end to insert the sticks. (You can freeze those ends separately to save for a smoothie). Insert the popsicle sticks. Be as careful as you can not to crack the bananas. If you get some hairline cracks, it’s no big deal, just smooth them over with your finger. Put the bananas in the waxed paper lined freezer safe container, uncovered is ok. Freeze them for an hour or two before making the chocolate coating. They don’t have to be frozen hard, but the chocolate will work better if the bananas are really cold.

Chop peanuts, if using, and set aside.

Melt the coconut oil in the sauce pan over low heat. Using a fork, stir in the agave nectar and cocoa powder until combined. At this point, it will probably be clumpy in some spots and watery in others. Add the arrowroot-water mixture and stir until everything is well combined and smooth. Add the remaining 2 Tbsp water and stir until smooth. Immediately remove from heat and pour the chocolate into a plate.

Coat a banana in chocolate as well as you can and then use a spoon to fill in the missed spots. (I used a tablespoon – not the measuring kind) Over another plate, sprinkle on the peanuts. Return to waxed paper. Repeat with the remaining bananas. You can use the peanuts that have fallen on the plate to finish up the last banana.

Put container back in the freezer until bananas are completely frozen. 6 hours to overnight.

Notes:

1. The coating is not crunchy a la magic shell. At first I thought this wouldn’t be a good thing, but it ended up being better because it didn’t crack off the bananas when we bit into them.

2. There will probably be a little leftover chocolate. It will not freeze to become a candy (I tried). At first it looked like it was going to be gummy candy consistency, but leaving it in the freezer longer, it froze into a frosting/spread consistency. We ate it with our fingers, but in retrospect it would have been really good on apple slices or with almonds dipped in.

3. You can eat them before the bananas are completely frozen, but the chocolate gets a little melty. After they are completely frozen, that wasn’t an issue.

4. I haven’t tried it yet, but I think toasted coconut would be a nice alternative to peanuts.

5. I was totally discouraged at the clumpy/watery stage and was about to throw in the towel. I suddenly realized why so much chocolate has soy lecithin in it (emulsifier). Then my brilliant sister, knowing that eggs are an emulsifier, asked me what I use in place of eggs. Going down the list in my head brought me to arrowroot! Yay, B, for saving an almost-failure especially since you knew I had just thrown in the last of the cocoa!

6. You should be able to buy popsicle sticks at craft stores or craft sections of large discount stores. Or you can do what I did and rely on the kindness of a crafty home-school mom that can share a few. Otherwise, I may have felt obligated to make frozen bananas every week so I could warrant the purchase of all those sticks. Thank you, L, for saving me from myself 😉

7. I ended up holding the sticks with a paper towel because I kept getting chocolate all over the sticks. Would have tasted as good, but not looked nearly as pretty.

This was the first time I’ve made them, but I’m sure it wont be the last. Let me know how they go if you try them at home so if the recipe needs tweaking, we can.


Portobello Margherita and Pasta

I love Italian food. It’s been a while since I’ve made any. Honestly, it’s been a while since I’ve cooked much of anything. My entire body knows it. It’s been screaming, “more vegetables. stat!” Today it finally got it’s wish. After a yummy lunch of spaghetti squash, scallions and spinach in Fatfree Vegan’s peanut sauce, I decided to try a couple recipes I found on the Weight Watchers site for dinner: The Grilled Portobello Margherita and the Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce. They are both big winners and will be made again — a lot.

The only substitution I made in the sauce was grape tomatoes instead of campari. I even got to use fresh basil from my herb garden. (The basil and the mint are the only ones that are flourishing, so you might see more of them.) I know. I can hear you now, “But you hate basil. You say it every chance you get.” I don’t know what’s happened. Maybe it’s really another ingredient that’s commonly used with basil that I don’t like, or maybe I was just so proud to be using something I’d planted myself that my hatred melted away. I’ve never thought of using a “sauce” that hadn’t been cooked, but since it was already room temp when I put it on the hot brown rice pasta, it warmed up quite nicely.

I made two subs for the Portabello Margherita: Mozza style Daiya for the cheese and real olive oil brushed on the mushrooms instead of using spray (beware of soy in the sprays!). I also cooked it in a cast iron skillet with a glass lid over it instead of on a grill or grill pan. Since I’d already made the sauce, I just put a little of that on top of the mushroom instead of slicing another tomato.

Of course as with any Italian dinner, I made a big tossed salad.
These may be “diet” recipes, but even if you’re not trying to watch your weight, you’ll want to dive right in. The worst part of the meal is that I’m not used to eating cheese and I burned by tongue on the Daiya. The best part of the meal is that I get to have it all for lunch again tomorrow! Hopefully, I’ll be more careful :)
If you happen to be following the WW plan, the entire meal (1 serving of the portabello w/my subs, 2 servings of the sauce on 1 cup of brown rice pasta, and a large tossed salad) was only 7 points. The spaghetti squash (1 medium – abt 2 cups), scallions (abt 1 cup), spinach (about 1 cup) and peanut sauce (1/4 cup) was only 6.5.
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