Summer begs for a cool, refreshing treat. Ice cream is HEAVENLY, no doubt. But does it always have to be sugary, heavy and generally bad for you? Is there such a thing as healthy ice cream alternatives?
When life gives you bananas, make “nice cream!”
Not sure if a wise man (er—wise person?) has ever said these words, but there may not be a statement more wise than this one.
The banana is one of nature’s most versatile and nutritious fruit. They’re sweet, easy to digest and packed with potassium and fiber—and it’s also worth mentioning that one medium banana serves up just 110 calories. It’s no wonder why we see this yellow fruit showing up in so many recipes as alternatives to fatty butters, oils and eggs.
As good as they are for baking, bananas are even better frozen and blended into smoothies, smoothie bowls and ice cream—or what we like to call “nice cream.” This cruelty-free alternative to dairy-laden, store-bought ice cream is more delicious than anything you can purchase in a package.
Great for summer and beyond, these ice-cold bowls are super refreshing and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and require less than 5 ingredients! It should be noted that I am a huge supporter of protein (it helps keep you full and build lean muscle), so I’ve added protein powder in addition to other optional ingredients. My personal favorite is Sunwarrior protein, but there are definitely other options out there if you’re shopping around. In fact, we broke down different types of plant protein powders here.
What you’ll need for all of these recipes: a high-speed powered blender or some sort of homemade ice-cream-making appliance like Yonanas. (Note: for less powerful blenders, keep raw coconut water on hand to gradually pour in for easier blending. You can also just use ice-cold water.)
1. The Basic Bowl
To be honest, the only ingredient you really need to make a kick-butt bowl of ice cream is frozen bananas. The most economical way to stock up on bananas is to join a local produce co-op or buying club and pick up a case at a time. Or, you can visit your local grocer and ask if they can sell you a case at a discounted bulk rate. Once ripened (covered in brown speckles), peel bananas, break each one in half, place in bowl and set in the freezer. Once rock-hard solid, they’re ready for blending!
3 frozen bananas
1 tsp. cinnamon
Optional add-ins: cacao powder, handful spinach, 1 Tbsp. almond butter, maca powder, vanilla bean.
In a high-speed blender, blend all ingredients, using tamper to push mixture down toward blades. Continue blending until bananas form ice cream consistency (a little more dense than soft-serve). Spoon into bowl and top with fruit, cacao nibs, coconut shreds, nuts or eat it plain!
2. Spirulina Chocolate Chip
The best part about nice cream is that you can easily sneak in leafy greens and other healthy ingredients, such as turmeric, and the flavor will be completely masked by the bananas and other sweet add-ins. This is great news for the kiddos or anyone else who has trouble getting the better-for-you, healing superfoods down.
This nice cream recipe calls for spirulina powder. An excellent source of plant protein, this blue-green algae is linked to increased production of antibodies and infection-fighting proteins (in other words, it’s suggested to help prevent cancer). It also lowers blood pressure, reduces cholesterol and boosts energy. And although it may smell a little fishy, it’s nothing but pure deliciousness in this next recipe.
Optional: 1 scoop Sunwarrior Raw Vegan Natural Superfood Protein.
In a high-speed blender, blend all ingredients, using tamper to push mixture down toward blades. Continue blending until bananas form ice cream consistency (a little more dense than soft-serve). Spoon into bowl and garnish with more cacao nibs.
3. Strawberry Banana Swirl
This frozen version of the classic strawberry shortcake has all the flavor, without the processed sugar, dairy and artificial ingredients. The best part about this recipe is that it doubles as a sorbet! After blending, stick it in the freezer for a few hours for an ice-y treat you’ll want to dig your spoon into.
Optional: raw vanilla bean powder or Sunwarrior Raw Vegan Vanilla Superfood Protein.
1. In a high-speed blender, combine 1 banana, 1 date and 1 teaspoon cinnamon (you may have to add a few drops of ice-cold water or coconut water to get the blades moving). Using a small rubber spatula, spoon into small bowl and set aside.
2. In blender (no need to rinse out), combine strawberries with remaining banana, dates and cinnamon.
3.To assemble, drizzle strawberry mixture over blended bananas and swirl together with a small spoon or chopstick. Sprinkle shredded coconut on top.