Easy Recipe: Instant Healthy Ice Cream

If you were to ask me my worst food vice – the thing I indulge in with minimal health benefits (so red wine and dark chocolate wouldn’t qualify, of course!) – it would be ICE CREAM, hands down.   Nothing caps off a day for me like a little dish of ice cream after dinner.  I used to keep a carton in the freezer at all times; I started stocking single-serve portions and ice cream sandwiches because I just can’t resist sneaking an extra spoonful or two, but the extra calories always set me back on my weight-watching efforts.  Only this instant healthy ice cream has helped me break the habit.

So in a way, this recipe has changed my life.  It is creamy and flavorful, and satisfyingly reminiscent of soft serve ice cream.   It’s ready instantly, without an ice cream maker, and I can easily keep the ingredients on hand.  And as a bonus, it’s a great use for ripe bananas that doesn’t involve a (delicious but dangerous) loaf of banana bread!

Of course, because this doesn’t contain the sugar and fat of real ice cream, you can indulge in a little topping as well, like honey or Trader Joe’s Midnight Moo Chocolate Syrup.  My son loves this treat with a little real maple syrup, just like in the book Sugar on Snow!

Instant Healthy “Ice Cream” (Vanilla)
1 1/2 ripe bananas, peeled and frozen
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk (any kind), plus more if needed

Roughly chop frozen bananas.  Place in a blender or food processor (I use a Mini Prep Plus) with the vanilla and milk.  Pulse the mixture, pushing down once or twice with a spoon. Process until smooth, adding more milk if it’s too thick.  Spoon into bowls and serve immediately.

Makes 2 servings.  You can easily add or subtract half a banana, but a Mini Prep won’t do well with more than 2 bananas.

The Vanilla is simple and wonderful, but I’ve been experimenting with some delicious and easy variations, too…

Dark Chocolate “Ice Cream”
Add before blending:
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (highest quality you can afford – I like Ghirardelli)
tiny pinch of kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon finely ground or instant coffee

The coffee is totally optional, but it really enhances the dark chocolate flavor!

Stracciatella (Italian Chocolate Chip) “Ice Cream”
Melt a small handful of chocolate in the microwave for about a minute, stirring every 20 seconds.  (Guittard chocolate chips or a square of a Trader Joe’s Pound Plus bar will work great.)

Once the ice cream mixture is smooth, drizzle the melted chocolate into the food processor and pulse.  The chocolate hardens into fine strands of delicate crunchy bits, just like in Italian Stracciatella gelato.

Espresso-Cinnamon “Ice Cream”
Add before blending:
1/2 teaspoon finely ground or instant coffee (more or less to taste)
sprinkle of cinnamon
tiny pinch of kosher salt

The coffee I use for my espresso machine (ground on 2 at Starbucks) is fine enough to make a smooth, speckled ice cream.  If you don’t use instant or Starbucks Via, make sure your coffee is finely ground and powdery, or you’ll end up chewing on coffee bean bits.

Pumpkin Spice “Ice Cream”
Add before blending:
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon/nutmeg/ginger/whatever you like)
Reduce milk to 2 tablespoons, depending on moisture content of the pumpkin

Any other suggestions for fun variations and toppings?  Please leave a comment!

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One Response to Easy Recipe: Instant Healthy Ice Cream

  1. lauren says:

    these sound lovely – and we do tend to amass bananas at inopportune times. thanks for the recs!

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