Sometimes Health Food Is So Awesome

Fake ice cream made of pureed frozen bananas: Sounds like a pale imitation for sad calorie-counters. Is actually the easiest delicious dessert you'll ever make.

Nov 8, 2011 at 2:00pm | Leave a comment

My stomach is kind of a health food fanatic -- it likes to flip a nutty if I eat cake -- but I’m not. (I eat cake anyway, take that stomach.)

I mean OK, many of my favorite foods are vegetables, but they’re always prepared in a way that I’m sure Susan Powter wouldn’t approve of, because vegetables taste amazing with a little butter or oil or something salty (brussels sprouts simmered in chicken bouillon = dinner nirvana, by the way). We’re not talking baconed yams level, but close. Basically, I like food that is fresh and simple and tastes good, which usually means stuff that is light but not lite.

There’s a new organic market near my house now and it actually hurts my feelings, because I can buy decent produce, interesting beer and fancy cheese, which honestly is probably enough for me to live on, but if I try to shop for anything more involved it all skews health foody. You can’t just get a box of pasta there -- it has to be sprouted spelt this or gluten-free that or in some way Better For You than just regular pasta. One time I thought they were selling cupcakes and I got all surprised/excited and they turned out to be raw vegan cupcakes.

It’s not that health food necessarily tastes bad. Maybe raw vegan cupcakes are delicious, I don’t know their life. It’s that food is shrouded in so much moralizing that the raw vegan cupcake seems to look sternly at you and say, “Oh, you wanted a cupcake, eh, you glutton? Well you got ME, and I’m the most you’re allowed, and frankly if I were you I’d put me right back in the cooler, Piggy McTrotters.”
 
All the proud labels -- no trans fats! Fat-free! Low calorie! Whole grains! Low sodium! -- just serve to remind you how many rules there are about what you should and shouldn’t be eating.

However! When I heard rumors that you could make fake ice cream by just throwing frozen bananas in a blender, I had to try it out. The reasons for this are several:
 
1) I like bananas;
2) I do actually like it when things are good for you, I just get kind of irritated when they’re all masturbatory about how healthy they are;
3) A bunch of bananas costs like half as much as a thing of Ben & Jerry’s;
4) I am extremely lazy about cooking, so I get really excited about foods that involve one ingredient and one step.
Truth be told it was mainly the last one.
 
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Reader, IT WAS AWESOME. You think making ice cream is easy, with the whole “put sugar and cream and whatever in the ice cream maker and turn it on” recipe? THIS IS EASIER. Ingredient: bananas. Instructions: freeze bananas, then put bananas in food processor. You have to move your arm, like, twice. And you end up with something that is lightly banana-flavored and exactly the texture of homemade ice cream. (As a bonus, if you can’t eat dairy this is great news, although if you can’t eat dairy you probably know about it already.)

Who knew frozen bananas turned all creamy when blended? It’s like some kind of custard fairy hid ice cream inside this humble fruit back in the early days of its domestication, which humans could only extract once they’d invented freezers and Cuisinarts and the concept of “ice cream.” Am I waxing a little poetical? Sorry, it’s a banana high.

Now, there’s no way this has to be Health Food, which is why I like it -- it’s awesome in and of itself, and also happens to be full of potassium and what have you. But you could totally put some dark chocolate shavings or mini-chips on there and it would be phenomenal. I’m doing that next time.

When he tasted it, my husband said “Wow, I assumed people only liked this because they’d forgotten what ice cream tastes like.” A friend on Facebook said her nutritionist had told her it would work, and she’d figured it was a big lie.
 
If you encounter enough Healthy Alternatives that are actually just pale copies meant to keep you in compliance with myriad food rules, you get to assuming they’re all that way. But some of them, like this one, are actually independently great -- not a substitute Better For You ice cream, necessarily, but another frozen treat that’s delicious too.