Sweet & Salty Banana Ice Cream (Gluten Free, Vegan)

I have a confession to make: I'm actually not a huge popcorn fan when it comes to snacking. My old college roommates could basically live off of popcorn and macaroni and cheese. Me? Not so much.

However, when it comes to using popcorn as a baking ingredient or crunchy topping, you might as well call me Princess Popcorn. (Don't believe me? Just look - and drool over - here, here and here.) So, when I had the chance to try out The Little Kernel - whole grain, gluten and dairy free, and non GMO mini popcorn always popped in 100% olive oil - I couldn't say no. Especially when the idea of creating a poppin' banana ice cream hit me late one night. 

Sweet & Salty Banana Ice Cream (Gluten Free, Vegan)

Just picture this: creamy, thick healthy ice cream meets chewy dates, crunchy Sweet and Salty kettle corn and a splash of vanilla. Topped with lightly toasted shredded coconut and a homemade chocolate magic shell, this is one dessert you won't want to stop eating - or one breakfast that tastes decadent but is actually packed with healthy ingredients. And if this sweet and salty banana ice cream can convert this popcorn meh-er, let's just say that popcorn addicts won't be disappointed...

Ready to get your own nice cream party poppin'? Start by gathering a few simple ingredients:

For the Nice Cream:

- 1 chopped frozen banana
- 1/4 cup rice milk (or your choice of milk. For an even creamier end result, use canned lite or full-fat coconut milk)
- dash of vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup of mini popcorn or crumbled regular popcorn (I used this kettle popcorn for an extra hint of sweetness)
- 1 date, without the pit, chopped into small pieces 

For the Toppings:

- 1 extra date, torn into pieces
- 1 TBSP or more of shredded toasted coconut (optional)
- A small handful of extra popcorn
- 1 TBSP chocolate magic shell (optional): 1 tsp of coconut oil, a drizzle of water and a sprinkle of cacao powder 

I promise, this is the easiest "ice cream" you can ever make. First, put the bowl for your nice cream into the freezer. Having a cold bowl will help your nice cream stay frozen, even as you layer on your toppings!

Sweet & Salty Banana Ice Cream (Gluten Free, Vegan)
With the popcorn I used in the background!

Now, the actual blending. Start by throwing your frozen pieces of banana, your rice milk and vanilla extract to a high-speed blender or food processor. I used my Vitamix, but a Nutribullet would probably work just as well! Blend until creamy (mine took less than a minute) and then throw in your pieces of date and popcorn and blend for just a second more. You can also just stir these ingredients right into the nice cream.

If you want to dress up your nice cream, there are countless options for toppings. This time, I went with another date, torn into pieces, for extra chewiness - plus a sprinkle of shredded toasted coconut for crunch. If you don't already have some toasted coconut on hand, you can always throw some raw flakes on the stove top and stir them with a little bit of cinnamon on medium heat for a few minutes. Finally, my go-to chocolate sauce/shell: a bit of coconut oil, a drizzle of water and a sprinkle of cacao powder. Feel free to just eyeball the ingredient amounts (that's what I always do!) and experiment with using other superfood powders - like acai or spirulina - in place of the cacao.

Sweet & Salty Banana Ice Cream (Gluten Free, Vegan)
A close up...
This recipe is - like usual - inspiration as much as an actual formula to follow. To take the salty/sweet combo up another notch, add pieces of gluten free pretzels or a few tablespoons of your favorite trail mix. You could also throw in spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin spice or enjoy a chocolate overdose with the help of cacao power or Macaccino powder. Raisins, cacao nibs, crumbled pieces of Enjoy Life's new ProBurst Bites and sunbutter swirls are high on my to-do list to try next time I whip up this ice cream!

As the recipe stands, it's not only gluten free and vegan, but also poppin' without any of the top eight allergens. The bananas offer easily digestible carbohydrates (especially if they were very ripe when frozen) along with manganese, potassium and Vitamin B6 and C. Meanwhile, dates are high in fiber and iron, and cacao is one deliciously calcium-magnesium-zinc-and-Vitamin-E-packed superfood! What's even crazier? Some call popcorn a superfood because of its ability to balance blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol and possibly protect eaters from cancer and heart disease.

Sweet & Salty Banana Ice Cream (Gluten Free, Vegan)
I don't know what's more popcorn beautiful...the bags or the ice cream!
When you hear the word "popcorn," the image of a buttery bag of your favorite cinema snack may first enter your mind. However, popcorn can be more than just a plain snack - it can be part of a deliciously healthy breakfast or dessert.

The truth is, popcorn from The Little Kernel may be small, but this recipe's flavor is anything but!

*I received samples of The Little Kernel for no charge in return for a review. However, all opinions, pictures and recipes are my own! Thanks for helping fuel this college celiac's blogging!*

*Also found at Wow Me Wednesday, Wine'd Down Wednesday, RunningwithSpoons, How We Roll,  Pretty Pintastic, Saucy Saturday, SITS Share Fest, Snickerdoodle Sunday*

How do you like to eat your popcorn? What flavor add-ins would you experiment with? Tell me your thoughts below!


  1. I love popcorn. I never would have thought to add it to nice cream though--how creative!

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Joyce. Always happy to find another popcorn lover :)


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