Banana ice cream is often one of the first desserts discovered by those who are new to the raw food diet, and it quickly becomes a favorite healthy indulgence! It can come as a revelation that you can blend frozen bananas to create a dessert that not only tastes good but is also good for you, and is so quick and easy to make!
I actually discovered the wonders of raw banana ice cream long before I started eating a raw food diet. It must have been at least ten years ago when I was reading a book by Carrie L’Esperance called “The Ancient Cookfire”, which she has since republished under the title The Seasonal Detox Diet: Remedies from the Ancient Cookfire.
This book has a focus on seasonal cleansing and detox diets with recipes specifically designed with these intentions in mind. She provided a recipe for a banana ice cream made with coconut milk, maple syrup and walnuts that was absolutely delicious.
I don’t remember what the particular cleansing purpose for this recipe was and in all honesty I don’t really think that is what I was thinking about when I tasted it. What a fabulous and healthy dessert! It opened my eyes to just how fantastic ice cream made from frozen bananas can be and it became a favorite summer treat.
Since then I have delved even deeper into health, nutrition and raw foods and experimented with various versions of raw ice cream including ingredients like cashews, coconut oil and agave. But I find myself returning to banana ice cream again and again because it is much healthier and lower in fat than other raw ice creams, while still providing that creamy texture that we all love.
The most basic version of raw banana ice cream involves simply blending frozen bananas in a food processor for a few minutes until they become light and smooth with a slightly fluffy consistency, as in the picture below. You can also use a Vitamix if you don’t have a food processor.
I have found that I get the best results, both in terms of the texture and flavor, if I first add some sweetened vanilla nut milk before adding the bananas.
Sometimes for me the pure banana ice cream can be a bit too much “banana”. The nut milk adds an extra level of creaminess that is more like traditional ice cream. I find a ratio of about half a cup of nut milk to two or three bananas to be just right.
If you prefer a lighter ice cream then I recommend adding frozen berries, especially strawberries. In fact, I have previously posted a recipe for a low fat strawberry ice cream that is a great source of protein and antioxidants. It’s so healthy I’ve even eaten it for breakfast! (Although I’m not sure it’s nutritional quality was my sole motivation.)
So here I will give you my basic recipe for making banana ice cream:
Raw Banana Ice Cream
1/2 cup cashew or almond milk (or you could use 1-2 tablespoons of raw nut butter with 1/2 cup water)
1-2 tablespoons raw agave, raw honey or maple syrup (optional for those with a sweet tooth)
1 teaspoon alcohol free vanilla extract
2-3 frozen bananas
Place nut milk in the food processor or Vitamix with optional sweetener and vanilla and blend until smooth. Add frozen bananas and process until you achieve a creamy consistency.
You can serve this right away and it will have a texture similar to that of soft serve ice cream. My preferred method is to return it to the freezer for an additional two to six hours, because this creates a firmer texture that personally I find much more enjoyable. (And with this method the Vitamix works just fine).
This is a great base to start with and from there you can experiment with optional additions. For example for coconut ice cream, start with a coconut milk and use coconut extract. For double chocolate chip ice cream add some cacao powder with the nut milk and mix through some cacao nibs at the end. You are limited only by your imagination!
So let me know if you try this and please share any great flavor combinations that you come up with. I’d love to hear what you think!