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.

 

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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-Lemonade Pops

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Cover of

Cover of Pops!: Icy Treats for Everyone

Ever since I interviewed Pops! author Krystina Castella in 2011 for the Kansas City Star, I’ve begun to associate the coming of summer with the coming of fruity, sweet popsicles. I’m sort of anti-AC, so a cold sweet pop on a sticky hot day tastes like heaven.

Plus, after you chat with a pro-popsicle innovator about how much thought can go into one simple pop, you gain a new appreciation for these simple sweets. I look forward to blending, pouring, and freezing new flavors to try and it’s made all the easier when you know exactly what makes for a tasty, easy-to-remove, attractive looking popsicle. If you’re interested, read my 2011 story by clicking here.

Castella is actually a college professor with a background in structural design. At the time, she was teaching and writing the book–when I talked to at least–and so she put a lot of thought into what makes for a beautiful structure, form that follows flavor, and entertaining on a purpose. Very smart and savvy, that one.

These pops, they aren’t particularly smart or savvy.

But they are good. And easy to make. Everybody loves strawberry lemonade in the summer, myself included, so I put it in pop form.

Makes 4 medium-sized popsicles or six small ones.photo (10)

Ingredients

1/2 grapefruit, sliced up

10 medium-sized strawberries, sliced

a few lemon slices

splash of vanilla

1 T steviaphoto (11)

8 oz. VitaminWater Zero – Lemonade

Directions

So easy. Place your grapefruit and almost all the strawberries in the blender. Blend ’til smooth. Squeeze a few lemon slices over the top, and then add in vanilla extract, stevia, and VZ0 Lemonade. Blend again until perfectly smooth.

Drop a few slices 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.

Pomegranate Sorbet

Pomegranate is one of those super fruits you often hear about, but rarely see (or notice, maybe) in your local grocery store, which is too bad because from what I’ve been reading lately, the health benefits are out of this world. It’s loaded with vitamins and minerals, fights various cancers, heart disease, lymphomas, and much more. Plus, it’s an anti-oxidant powerhouse. We’re talking the Chuck Norris of super foods.

Before this recipe, I had never really had pomegranate aside from the occasional store-bought juice or restaurant salad dressing.

So when I crossed paths with this little pink fruit, I was intrigued. What could I do with it?

My impulse buying side didn’t really case. I’d find something, and sure enough I did. Fruit + ice cream maker + nondairy milk base = healthy dessert perfection.

Ingredients

1/3 cup nondairy milk (I use almond, unsweetened)

3 T organic vanilla yogurt (coconut yo tastes great with this recipe)

1/2 T stevia

splash of vanilla

juice of 1 pomegranate

Directions

-In a small mixer or blender, place all ingredients except the fruit, which you can squeeze into the blender to prevent too many seeds from falling in.

-Blend ’til smooth and well mixed. Prepare in ice cream maker as directed. Spoon out and let the sorbet firm up in the freezer for a few minutes. Top with remaining seeds if you like.

If you’re thinking food dye made that lovely purple color, think again. That’s all-natural coloring. Mother Nature’s dessert presentation skills at their finest, coaxing us with vibrantly tempting colors, I suppose.

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.

Banana Breakfast Popsicles

If any type of ice cream had the “best summer ever,” it had to have been banana ice cream. This very healthful option was featured in every magazine I read and every e-newsletter I subscribe to. If you haven’t heard of it, you might live under a rock. I’m teasing, of course, but seriously if you haven’t tried it, check out this recipe from Yummly.

Interestingly, toward the end of the summer this banana pop recipe started popping up more and more. I tried it. Loved it, too.

I especially love this one because you can roll it in whatever healthful ingredients you want. I opted for granola and dried blueberries, rolled in organic, Greek vanilla yogurt.

I also think these would make an adorable treat surprise for kids, either before school or on a weekend morning. Who wouldn’t love a breakfast popsicle?

Breakfast Banana Pops

  • 1/2 bananas
  • yogurt of choice
  • granola of choice or even crumbled s’mores
  • add-on ideas: mini chocolate chips, coconut shreds, cinnamon-stevia mix, raisins, etc.
  • popsicle stick or silverware to insert into the banana

Directions

-In a small bowl, sprinkle out the granola and toppings you’ve selected.

-Carefully (and securely) insert the stick into the halved banana.

-Holding the banana over another small bowl, coat one side with yogurt.

-Sprinkle granola over the freshly-coated side. If it doesn’t stick as well, simple roll or press the yogurt-coated side in the granola mix.

-Repeat ’til banana is coated all the way around.

-When finished coating, place the pop on wax paper and freeze.

You can store in the freezer for a while, but I wouldn’t recommend longer than one day.

And why would you want to wait 🙂

Strawberry-Banana Smoothie Pops

It’s hardly sophisticated culinary, but it’s a sweet classic. Strawberry-banana is (by far) my favorite smoothie combination. Always has been. Always will be.

So when I found myself with a few handfuls of strawberries that were overly ripe, I fell back on an old standby.

I adapted this recipe from Eating Well’s Strawnana Pops recipe. I changed things up a bit, but the outcome was berry-licious (buh-nuh-nuh-nuh!).

Makes 5-6 pops

Ingredients

1 1/4 cup strawberries

1/2 medium banana

1/2 cup organic vanilla yogurt

2 T almond milk

1 T stevia

pinch of cinnamon

scantest pinch of salt

Directions

-Liquefy or puree all ingredients in a blender on high ’til well mixed and no fruit lumps remain. Alternatively, if you’d like a lump here, it might make for a pretty pattern in your pops.

-Use the spout on your blender to evenly distribute puree into popsicle molds.

-Freeze for approximately 3-4 hours.

To remove, slowly tug the pop stick back and forth. If it doesn’t remove easily, run the mold under lukewarm water for 10-15 seconds. It should be removed gently so the stick doesn’t slide out.

And if you wanted an actual smoothie, all you would need to do is quickly blend a few pops up! How easy is that? It’s nice having sweet-treat options on hand, I think.

Yum!

Pineapple Sherbert

Today, I’m thinking pineapples. Jillian Michaels, of whom I’m a fan, isn’t crazy about them because they’re very sweet, but in comparison to other sweet treats from nature (fruits, that is) they’re among the least nutritious. But the pineapple’s incredible … Continue reading

Coconut FroYo

Coconut scares some people. People who fear fat, I hear. But sadly, what these fat-fearing folks don’t realize is that coconut fat is very, very good for you. The medium-chain fatty acids are considered healthy fats that actually help your … Continue reading

Orange Dreamsicle Ice Cream (and Pops!)

It’s hot. Ice cream is cool. So it’s always good to have it nearby or a few popsicles on hand.

I’m going to give you the full recipe for this creamsicle pop from Martha Stewart Living in addition to the single-serving version. You know, just in case you want to save some for later.

Makes 1 popsicle/ 10 small 5 larger popsicles.

Ingredients

2 T/ 1 cup orange juice from concentrate

1 t/ 2 T stevia

4 T/ 2 cups full-flat vanilla yogurt (or try coconut milk for some healthy little medium-chain amino acids)

dash/ 2 t pure vanilla extract

Directions

Ice-Cream Maker Option:

-Pour all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

-Place in prepared ice cream maker and churn for about 15-20 minutes or until solid cream starts to form.

-Scoop out the cream. At this point, I’ll usually remove all the ice cream I’ve made and put what I’m planning to eat in the freezer for another 20-30 minutes to let it firm up even more. If there are any leftovers, I’ll pour the ice cream into popsicle molds to save for a later date.

No Ice-Cream Maker Option:

-In a small saucepan, combine juice and sugar. Heat on medium-low ’til sugar dissolves.

-Slowly blend in yogurt and vanilla. Transfer to a measuring cup or other container that makes pouring easy. Carefully pour into popsicle molds and let freeze for several hours until solid.

Careful Removal

Sometimes, those sticky sweet treats don’t want to be eaten. When you can’t get them easily out of the pop mold, run the mold under warm water for about 15 seconds. Gently pull out the stick. If the popsicle still isn’t coming out, let it sit for a minute longer at room temperature. Then try wiggling it a bit more. However, be careful not to remove the stick. I recommend buying molds in which the sticks have holes in the middle. This let’s the cream freeze through the holes, making it difficult for the sticks to pop out without leaving the popsicle behind.

If your popsicle stick comes out without the popsicle mold, don’t fret. Simply run the popsicle under warm water a bit more ’til it melts and it will slide out eventually. Or you could do what my impatient self usually does, that is, eat the ice cream right out of the mold with a spoon.

Want to try a fun trick? Stick a frozen watermelon chunk in your ice cream and pull it out after a few minutes. The ice cream will start to coat the frozen and it’s very taste to eat. If for nothing else, the pink makes the presentation pop.