Not sure if I’m the only one, but does anyone else look at the year in quarters? When the first of September came around I actually thought to myself, wow, it’s almost the end of the third quarter. Yeah, it’s a work thing. I need to check if I’ve hit my goals for the year (blog – tick!) and gear up if I’ve missed anything. I was set back a bit by the recurrence of my illness but I think I’ve handled it better than I would’ve expected. So that’s already a good plus in my books for 2014.
After the dry spell we’re finally getting a fair bit of rain, but it is still hot during most hours of the day, especially in the middle of a non-windy night when the electricity goes out – HOT! I love ice cream on a hot day, but it’s not really good for me with all that sugar and dairy. There’s a simple trick however to make a faux ice cream or “nice cream” as I’ve seen it being called (and I absolutely love the name so I’m going to use it here) that is good for you and uses no added sugar. The secret ingredient is – frozen banana! That means you kind of need to like banana before going ahead with this recipe. You will also need a food processor.
Essentially a frozen soft serve smoothie, you really will find it hard to believe how rich and decadent this is without sugar or dairy. Because we love our smoothies, smoothie bowls and banana nice creams so much, what I’ve taken to doing is to chop up the bananas at home whenever they go ripe and add them to a bag which then goes into the freezer. We then just grab chunks of frozen bananas whenever we make our smoothies. This method also gives you a nice, cold smoothie with no added ice that will just water it down. In general, soft fruits do better with freezing, but I suppose if you’re planning to blend that apple you could go ahead and freeze it too. When the bananas are ripe they do tend to fuze together a little, but we secretly enjoy bashing the bag against the counter to get our bananas. If this might bother you, it would be best to pre-freeze the bananas in a single layer on a tray for about two hours before placing into the freezer bag.
When conceptualizing this recipe, I actually wanted to use the matcha powder that I have from the baking supplies store to make this green tea banana nice cream, but when I looked and looked through the supermarkets I could not find matcha in powder form, just tea bags. So I went ahead to use the contents of the teabags straight up. If you have matcha powder for any reason, awesome, probably put in a teaspoon (or two, taste it as you go along). The green tea is just a subtle but refreshing flavour against the banana, which is a strong flavour on it’s own. Green tea adds some nutrition punch as it is packed with bioactive compounds and antioxidants PLUS is supposed to help increase your metabolic rate (that means it helps with weight loss. I don’t take enough of green tea to vouch for this effect personally).
I add another secret ingredient in this recipe mostly because I needed to finish it up, also I knew it works well in smoothies without impacting the flavour and it goes without saying it ups the nutrition factor. Oh, and it gives the nice cream it’s colour too. You can totally leave it out if it freaks you out but honest, you won’t taste it. What is the secret ingredient? Baby spinach.
I hope I haven’t lost anyone with that revelation. Like I said, you can leave it out. I promise you you can barely taste it, and it’s a good trick to get more nutrition from your smoothies. Spinach is packed with vitamin K and A, iron for good measure and even gives you some calcium. If you’re not keen on spinach, maybe put some spirulina powder in it’s place. I find spirulina rather mild tasting and it will definitely give you a strong, green colour. Still freaking you out? Just leave any of the additions out then and enjoy your banana nice cream with just the green tea or without.
Or how about some cocoa powder for a chocolate version? My sister loves it with peanut butter. It’s also really delicious with some frozen berries, just add some honey if it’s too tart for you. You can really take this nice cream in so many different directions and still make it truly delicious.
- 2 heaping cups frozen banana slices
- Green tea leaves from 1 green tea bag
- optional: handful of baby spinach (about 1 heaping cup), or 1 teaspoon spirulina (or both)
- ¼ cup soymilk or plant-based milk of choice
- Frozen bananas: Peel and slice a bunch of bananas and place in freezer bag. Press out as much air as possible before sealing shut. Leave to freeze for minimum four hours or leave it there to take out whenever you want to make banana nice cream or smoothies. Will keep for weeks. if it even lasts that long! We add more bananas as they ripen in order to not waste any bananas.
- Banana nice cream: Once the bananas are frozen, you start making your banana nice cream. Throw in the spinach, frozen bananas and the contents of the green tea bag into your food processor, and blend until you get finer chunks of the frozen bananas. Pour in the soymilk, and blend again until you get the consistency of soft serve ice cream.
- Top with your favourite nuts, chocolate chips, coconut flakes, fresh fruit like mango or goji berries. If not eating immediately, place the banana nice cream into the freezer and let it freeze for a couple of hours to get a consistency more similar to scoopable ice cream.