Healthier Banana Split

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Happy Monday! The day that follows the best day of the week, in my opinion, Sunday, when we recognize the importance of relaxation. No work is to be had on Sunday. I wish I could say I was better about obeying that commandment, but I’m not.CC Pics 035

What I am good at doing on Sundays is caring for myself however I see fit. Usually, this means some time spent talking to my higher power in church or alone, watching 60 minutes, relaxing before the week to come, and spoiling myself with something really delicious for dinner and dessert.

People like the cute “Sundaes on Sunday” idea. Me, too. But I like mine wholesome and nutritious. I’m not saying that’s for everyone, but let me send a little divinely delicious inspiration your way.

You’ve probably heard by now that frozen banana chunks are so sweet and smooth it’s like biting into ice cream. If you follow this blog, you’ve read about my successful experimentation with this and with freezing yogurt for homemade froyo. Both have major yum factor.

So I started putting them together.

With some fresh strawberries, of course–and in another instance, dark chocolate chips–and just made an all frozen, holistic banana split I like quite well.

IngredientsCC Pics 037

1 banana

2-3 T chopped strawberries

1/4 cup yogurt of choice ( I like vanilla coconut)

optional: chocolate chips, nuts, etc.

Directions

Slice the banana to your likely. For a split classic, I split mine down the middle and then in halves to fit in my dish. You might also chop or chunk them and layer your yogurt on top.

Next comes the yogurt. Top or drop as you like on your banana split slices or chunks.

Last is the berries. Sprinkle as desired.

 

Cool Cantaloupe Pops

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There’s a bad apple in every bunch. And there’s often a lot of bad bunches of produce. It’s especially true these days. It can be so hard to find a bunch, bushel, or bag of fruit that’s not bad. As someone who eats an exorbitant amount of fresh produce on the regular, I know this to be true. I sometimes wonder if producers know that American markets know nothing about picking ripe, fresh produce. I’m no expert, by any means, but for all the time I’ve spent picking out produce, I’ve come to question this.CC Pics 024

The positive is that I’ve also learned a few how-to’s along the way. Sometimes when I’ve had one too many bad picks–pale, tasteless grapefruit and old, flavorless spaghetti squash being the biggest repeat offenders–I look online for tips. Other times, I look to whoever is standing close to me and looks like they know what they’re doing.

So when I was standing at Hy-Vee contemplating cantaloupe, I asked the woman to my right, who was also thumbing through, thumping, and smelling every melon in the bin. And let me tell you, she knew what she was doing. In an all-business tone, she let me know that a nice golden rind is going to be the freshest, juiciest, most flavorful pick. She was also frustrated that we couldn’t smell them. I knew about the smelling-for-sweetness trick, but what she told me next surprised me: If they wash them well, you can’t smell them for ripeness; the smell gets scrubbed off.CC Pics 025

Did I pick a winner?

You bet. It was good. Plus I let it sit on my warm kitchen countertop in my anti-AC apartment for a few days to ripen up a bit more. Oh, my sweetness! It was…

And then I turned 1/4 of that Candy Cantaloupe into this: Pops! You know I’m a popsicle fiend, especially during these hot summer days. So while I resist faux coolant, I find a pleasurable defense in popsicles. And these ones are good! I know I say that often, but seriously, the cantaloupe, a little stevia for sweetness, and a little yo for smoothness makes this recipe better than any Dreamsicle I’ve had. Cross my heart and have my cantaloupe if I’d steer you wrong. Try it!

Makes 4 medium-sized popsicles or six small ones.CC Pics 026

Ingredients

1 cup cantaloupe chunks

spritz of lemon

splash of vanilla

1 T stevia

1/2 cup plain, non-fat yogurt (dairy-free coconut is the best!)

Directions

Cover of Pops! by Krystina Castella whom I interviewed for a summer 2011 feature in the Kansas City Star. Click the image to link to that story.

Cover of Pops! by Krystina Castella whom I interviewed for a summer 2011 feature in the Kansas City Star. Click the image to link to that story.

So easy. Place your fruit and all other ingredients in blender. Blend ’til smooth.

If you like, drop a few more thin slices of cantaloupe (or other pretty fruit, like orange slices without the rind) down the sides of your pop molds and then distribute your blended concoction evenly between the molds. Freeze for 3-4 hours or until solid.

Strawberry-Grapefruit Popsicles

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Sparkling citrus makes me think of summertime, and strawberries make it a little sweeter.SAM_5891

So I fed my Vitamin-C fettish with this little pop and I’m so glad I did. The recipe is below and so easy. A foolproof, must-try treat.

And here’s what I’m thinking as a follow-up recipe: Champagne-Grapefruit Pops. Sounds perfect for brunch or a girls get together. (This thought is largely attributable to the DVD playing in the background–SATC.)

Ingredients

1 large grapefruitSAM_5886

3-4 medium strawberries, slices

1/4 cup plain yogurt (coconut-based is my fav)

1 T stevi

splash of vanilla extract

Directions

-Slice grapefruit and place in blender with all the other ingredients in top, but only using half of tstrawberry slices.

-Once blended down to liquid form, pour a little into each pop mold, just enough to cover the base. Drop in a few strawberry slices, add more of the liquid, slices, and so on and so forth until the moulds are full. Place the sticks in and freeze for 3-4 hours.SAM_5894

-Directly prior to serving, remove from freEr and let sit at room temperature for about five minutes or run under warm water for 10 seconds or so.

-Eat fast and enjoy liberally! Nothing bad about these healthy, sweet pops.

Mint-Chip Ice Cream

Turning green with envy?

Or green with disgust?

Hopefully, it’s the former. This pretty little green ice cream–pretty by my standards, at least–might turn some away in disgust, but true lovers of the mint-chocolate combo will crave.

And feel free to crave away, because your craving need not be accompanied by guilt. Why?

It’s made with bananas! And the green coloring doesn’t require food dye, although you’re welcome to use that if you like.

Makes one big serving of mint-chip ice cream

Ingredients

1 large, frozen banana, chopped into small rounds

1/4 cup frozen spinach (or food coloring)

2-3 drops peppermint extract

splash of vanilla

dash of stevia

1-2 T dark chocolate chips

Directions

In a small blender, mix banana rounds, spinach, extract, vanilla, and stevia ’til smooth cream forms.

Remove from blender. Shape into ice cream if need be and top with chips.

If any of the banana melts down or gets too runny, simply freeze for a few minutes.

Would you have ever guessed those were bananas just by looking at them? I certainly wouldn’t.

Hope you think this recipe is as cool as I do… and find it as tasty, too!

Healthy Frozen S’mores!

A really neat idea was pitched in the “Let’s Do Lunch” section of Parenting‘s September issue. For picky eaters, parents might approve of “PB & Banana S’mores: “Stack graham crackers with peanut butter and banana slices.”

This sounded delicious and fun. So I tried it. But I only had frozen banana slices left. So I made this recipe a little more “a la mode.” No, there’s no ice cream. I’ll explain.

You’ve probably seen or read my postings on the deliciousness of frozen banana ice cream. By freezing bananas in little slices, you get the consistency of ice cream and all the sweetness with out undesirable sugar additives.

So then I decided I wanted my peanut butter chilled, too.

And then I thought it would be tasty to do a layer of chocolate fro-yo (simply mix 1/2 t cocoa powder with a pinch of stevia and vanilla to 1 T or more plain organic yogurt).

And then I added a little dark chocolate.

I couldn’t help myself.

And if you’re worried about finding a healthy alternative to graham crackers, consider making your own with this recipe or buying my health market favorite, Back to Nature Grahams.

Enjoy!

Banana-Berry Smoothie Pies

Need a frozen treat fix?

This recipe can satisfy so many sweet cravings. It starts with a super sweet bottom crust, moves up to a sugary-blueberry filling in the middle, and is topped with a little banana froyo.

So if you want ice cream, pie, frozen fruit, whatever, really. This dessert delivers.

Makes four mini treats.

Ingredients

Layer one: 5-6 dates, 2 t rolled oats, 1 t applesauce

Layer two: 30-35 blueberries, 1 t stevia or honey

Layer three: frozen banana slices (about 1/3-1/2 of a banana), optional: dash of stevia and vanilla

Directions

-In a good food processor, pulse dates and oats. Add in applesauce. Pulse once more. Press into a mini muffin tin (or all into one large muffin slot). Set in freezer ’til next layer is ready.

-Blend ingredients for layer two. Spoon onto the top of layer one. Return to freezer.

-Blend layer three ingredients until smooth, ice-cream-like texture forms. Use this layer as the topping.

-Freeze until solid. Serve as soon as you pull out of the freezer because they will melt after a few minutes of exposure to room temperature.

So healthy? All fruit? You could easily get an ice cream fix for breakfast with this recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Freeze-It-Yourself Chocolate Fro-Yo

Want a chocolate treat you can feel good about eating in this new, more health-conscious year?

Remember my cake cups post on my favorite alternative to regular ice cream and frozen yogurt?

If you don’t recall, you can make any fro-yo at home without an ice cream maker by simply freezing your favorite yogurt. Any flavor works, but if you choose a fruit on the bottom kind, be sure to stir up the fruit prior to freezing.

In this post though, I share a new trick: instant chocolate fro-yo.

Ingredients

6 oz. of your favorite organic yogurt (Greek or regular)

1 T cocoa powder

1 t stevia

scantest pinch of salt

Directions

Mix all thoroughly and freeze for 1 to 1.5 hours, churning occasionally if you’d like a smoother appearance when finished.

So good, right? And so good for you, too! I recommend adding some healthy toppings, like organic flaked coconut, sliced almonds, or a few dark chocolate chips.

And don’t worry about telling your taste buds. If you’re already accustomed to the sweetness of natural sweeteners, they’ll never know the difference.

Marshmallow Ice Cream

Marshmallow Ice Cream. Doesn’t that sound like a dreamy dessert?

S’more Whoopie Pies

I can’t tell you the last time I had a marshmallow. No jet-puffed, hydrogenated sugar lumps for me. That’s why I like this recipe so much!

I also love s’mores. Remember my home-baked take on the s’more? The one with the coconut-marshmallow replacement. Well, we may need to re-do that coconut-macaroon-marshmallow alternative because now we’ve got this tasty ice cream as a new option.

Maybe we should call it the winter s’more? Just like I dubbed the s’more whoopie pie the cold-weather version of the traditional, warm & melty summer s’more.

Ingredients

-2 T marshmallow fluff (I used Walden Farms’ Marshmallow Creme)

-1/2 t vanilla

-scant pinch of salt

-1 cup non-dairy milk

Optional: pinch of cinnamon

Directions

So simple! Just mix all ingredients well, being sure to get all the marshmallow creme lumps out. Pour into ice cream maker and prepare as directed.

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, I recommend pouring the liquid into ice cube trays, freezing, and then blending. Or you could also pour the liquid mix into popsicle molds.

I topped mine with some chocolate and graham crackers for a s’more twist. What toppings would you pair with a marshmallow ice cream?

Cantaloupe-Yogurt Sundae Bowl

I got this idea from one of my favorite foodie bloggers, Snack Girl.

I didn’t make many modifications to her breakfast version of this cantaloupe bowl.

Ingredients

1/2 to 1/3 cantaloupe, filled with your favorite yogurt and topped with blueberries or other fruit.

But I have a frozen little secret I’ve been sharing with friends for quite a while that turns this breakfast bowl into a sundae one!

A few nights a week, I pop a cup of Greek yogurt in my freezer, churning it with a spoon every 20 minutes or so until it reaches a frozen consistency similar to ice cream.

Pretty smart, right? It’s lower in sugar than most frozen treats you’d buy in store, plus it’s got more protein, too!

I often mix in fresh fruit as a topping. Blueberries are a regular feature in this frozen yogurt design.

But if you go for this sundae bowl, you could have a bit more fun with it…

Idea: Freeze the bowl (the cantaloupe bowl), too!

Idea: Add in a frozen banana for a real sundae effect.

Idea: Freeze into several chunks and mix with frozen fruit in a blender for a smoothie-like consistency.

Idea: Ditch fresh fruit and indulge in richer toppings (think chocolate…)

Idea: Try other frozen fruit bowls by carving out all or part of the center (of apples, oranges, pear, peach, etc.)

Fruit really does make for a delicious dessert. It’s naturally sweet, naturally the best choice.

Mango Ice Cream

It’s beginning to look like I’m going to try every fruit-ice-cream or sorbet combination possible.

When I made this ice cream, mangoes were in season.

I wish they still were. So sweet for your health.

…and they taste pretty sweet, too!

Ingredients

-1 mango, diced into small pieces (skin optional, but I think it gives a fun confetti effect & it’s good for you!)

-1 t stevia

-scant pinch of salt

-2 T non-dairy milk

-small splash of vanilla

-1/4 cup organic yogurt

Directions

-Liquefy mango in the blender ’til very liquid-y. Then blend in remaining ingredients.

-Once mixed well, transfer to ice cream maker and prepare as directed. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can do one of two things:

1. Place mix in freezer, scraping and churning occasionally until you achieve a thick ice-cream-like texture.

2. Freeze chunked mango before hand. Freeze liquids in ice cube trays. Then place all ingredients–frozen and not–in blender and process ’til smoothie like. Freeze for a bit to let the mixture firm up.