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‘Nice cream’

Banana ice cream, aka ‘nice cream’ is a summer favourite because it’s healthy, quick and easy to prepare, with only one main ingredient required . . . frozen bananas. Megan Gilmore of Meatless Monday shares her recipes with the Weekender.

How to make banana ice cream

When you freeze a banana, it becomes unbelievably creamy, which is why it makes recipes like Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie and Strawberry Banana Smoothie so milkshake-like.

Before you freeze bananas for ice cream, it's important that you peel them first (or the peel could be stuck forever), and then slice them into coins. Cut each banana slice about 1cm thick.

Cutting the banana into small pieces helps it break down faster when you blend it, giving you a thick and creamy ice cream, without making your food processor work too hard.

Once the bananas are sliced, arrange them in a single layer on a large baking tray covered with baking paper or a silicone mat so they don't freeze stuck to the surface. You can fit about 4 to 5 large bananas onto a single tray.

Freezing the sliced banana on a tray first ensures that they won't stick together in a big clump, so they will be easier to blend for smoothies or ice cream.

Freeze the bananas overnight, then transfer them to an airtight container to store for longer. This way they won't pick up the tastes or smells from your freezer.

INGREDIENTS:

Plain banana ice cream

2 frozen bananas, peeled, sliced into coins, and frozen overnight.

Peanut Butter and Banana

Add 1 tablespoon of all-natural peanut butter per frozen banana.

Strawberry Banana Ice Cream

Add ½ cup frozen strawberries and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup per frozen banana; you can also replace the maple syrup with 2 pitted dates and 2 tablespoons of water.

Double Chocolate Banana Ice Cream

Add 1 tablespoon unsweetened cacao powder and 1 tablespoon maple syrup per banana and a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips; optionally you can also add a splash of vanilla and 1 tablespoon of almond butter for added creaminess.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream

Add 1 tablespoon peanut butter and 1 tablespoon cacao powder and 1 tablespoon maple syrup.

Method:

Add the ingredients to the bowl of a food processor fitted with an ‘S' blade. If using dates in your recipe, process them with water first to help break them down, then add in the bananas and any other ingredients.

Process the bananas until they break down and have a smooth and creamy ice-cream-like texture. Serve right away for a soft serve consistency.

For a scoop-able ice cream, transfer the banana ice cream to a freezer-safe dish and freeze for 2 hours. Scoop and serve.

I typically use 1 frozen banana per person when making this ice cream, but I've found that my 12-cup food processor handles 2 to 3 bananas better than just one on its own.

You can use a mini food processor when making this ice cream for only one person, or you can make a larger batch and freeze it for later.

This recipe is a taste-as-you-go kind of process, so don't stop adjusting the flavour until it tastes perfect for you. You can always place the ice cream back in the freezer if it gets too soft from over-processing.

The combinations are endless, so feel free to also blend in any other ingredients you like, such as raspberries, blueberries, cinnamon, pumpkin, and more.

Can you freeze banana ice cream?

Banana ice cream has a “soft serve” consistency immediately after you make it, and you can serve it right away like that. However, if you want to make it ahead of time or if you want a scoop-able consistency more like traditional ice cream, transfer the ice cream to a dish that you can place in the freezer.

Banana ice cream is the easiest to scoop after it's been in the freezer for about two hours. If you freeze it overnight, it will be much harder in texture, and you'll need to leave it at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes to soften up.

You can freeze prepared banana ice cream in an airtight container for up to three months. Make sure it's tightly covered to prevent freezer burn.

• Courtesy of Megan Gilmore for Meatless Monday

Picture by Detoxinista