"Zucchini Bread" Nana Ice Cream
Don't know what nana ice cream is? (If so, you definitely aren't following me on Instagram and haven't seen Margie's amazing blog, Nana Ice Cream.) Basically, it's a dairy free "ice cream" created by blending frozen bananas with liquid and any other flavor add-ins (ranging from other frozen fruit to cacao powder). Want to eat your ice cream and get a punch of nutrition too? That's what triggered my favorite nice cream flavor - zucchini bread - to appear from my blender!
Not only is this recipe gluten free, vegan and paleo (depending on your toppings), it's also 100% drool-worthy. Just imagine biting into a creamy spoonful of "ice cream" packed with cozy flavors like nutmeg and cinnamon, plus sweet hints from frozen fruit and vanilla...only to know that you're getting a dose of veggies at the same time.
As I've written about previously, zucchini is a low in calories and sugar but high in antioxidants, potassium and Vitamin C and B. Research also shows that zucchini (and other summer squash varieties) can boost eye and heart health, help control diabetes, aid digestion and balance the thyroid and adrenal glands. Combined with bananas - which boast high levels of Vitamin B6, manganese, fiber, copper and biotin - this really is the healthiest ice cream you'll ever taste! Not to mention that zucchini and bananas are also renowned for being easily digestible - and super hydrating - carbohydrates, which makes them ideal secret weapons for post-workout recovery!
To get started, grab these simple ingredients:
For one serving:
2 frozen bananas
(Feel free to mix and match with other fruits too - I often add cantaloupe, strawberries, pineapple, etc. Be aware that it will give the ice cream a more tropical flavor though!)
1 large zucchini, frozen in slices
Huge handful of spinach (or alternate leafy green)
1 TBSP of chia seeds (I love MammaChia's)
Liberal sprinkle of cinnamon
Drop of vanilla and hint of nutmeg
Enough liquid to blend (water, green tea, milk of choice, etc)
Optional toppings to add a crunchy, chewy "zucchini bread" feel: homemade granola (more recipes available here), puffed cereal, trail mix, nut butter, chocolate sauce (cacao + coconut oil), berries, dried fruit, etc.
How to make it? First - if you're suffering from crazy high temperatures like California is - be glad that this is one "bread" that doesn't require an oven! Simply add all of the ingredients into a high-speed blender (I personally find that putting the spices, chia seeds and liquid on the bottom, followed by frozen fruit and veggies and leafy greens, works best) and blend!
Once the mixture becomes creamy and smooth, taste-test it before pouring it into a bowl. For those who are worried, you won't taste the zucchini at all, especially if you use distinctive flavorings like cinnamon, nutmeg and very ripe bananas. If your nice cream initially tastes too sweet, add more zucchini or greens. If it's not sweet enough, add more fruit. After you're satisfied with your frozen treat, all you need to do is transfer it into your dish of choice, add your desired toppings and devour!
One pro tip: When pouring your smoothie into a bowl, pour halfway and add some of your toppings (including some of the cacao-coconut oil sauce if using) before pouring the rest of your smoothie on top. This creates a crunchy, chewy "core" to your nana ice cream...and a delicious surprise when you reach the middle of the bowl!
Ever since I started adding zucchini to my nice cream, I haven't turned back! Since I'm not a huge fan of overly sweet foods, zucchini has been the perfect way to create a creamy, cool breakfast that's (naturally) sweet but doesn't give me a sugar rush. It also doesn't hurt that this recipe helps me sneak in a dose of veggies before lunch!
My biggest piece of cooking advice? Don't be afraid to experiment in the kitchen - and even try mixing ingredients that might not sound like they'd work at first (cough cough, zucchini and bananas). Who knows. You might even create a new meal that you can't live without!
*Also found at RunningwithSpoons, VegetarianMama, Wine'd Down Wednesday, Allergy Free Thursdays, What's Cookin' Wednesday, and Snickerdoodle Party!!*
What's your must-have meal? What's the weirdest ingredient combo you've ever made? Comment below!