5 Banana-based Ice Cream Recipes that You Can Make at Home

By Cristina Ng, August 12, 2019

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It’s hard to say who the first genius was who discovered that a food processor can magically transform frozen slices of bananas into a whipped custardy treat in minutes. We do know that we are eternally grateful, and since that high point in dessert history endless variations on the classic recipe have been posted on food blogs the world over.

We took that basic idea and dreamed up five flavors that can be made easily in any Shanghai kitchen. We’ve kept things dairy-free and added nutritious superfoods like spirulina, cacao, berries and more for refreshing treats that fit into a healthy lifestyle. And because shopping for niche ingredients can be a challenge, we’ve also provided a handy shopping guide at the end of this article.

Basic Method

The basic recipe for the ‘nana ice (aka ‘nice’) cream consists of 200-300 grams of sliced frozen bananas, a pinch of salt and two to four tablespoons of your favorite non-dairy milk. Add your liquid in slowly until you reach your preferred consistency. We like it to resemble soft-serve ice cream. The choice to eat it straight away or let it firm up in the freezer to enjoy later is entirely up to you.

1. Mint Chip

mintchip.jpg
Image by Crisitna Ng/That's 

Thanks to the sneaky addition of spinach and spirulina this contains lots of vitamin A and iron. We are partial to the richness of Lizzy’s All Natural cashew milk for this one. Feel free to play with your ratios to get the taste and color that you find most appetizing.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 300g sliced frozen bananas

  • 50g chopped spinach

  • 20g fresh mint leaves

  • 2-4 tbsp cashew milk

  • 4 tbsp chocolate chips

  • ½ tsp spirulina powder

  • 4 drops peppermint essential oil

  • Dash of salt

Toppings:

  • Cacao nibs

  • Fresh mint

Tip: Chopping the spinach before putting it into the food processor helps hide the vegetable from picky eaters.


2. Peanut Butter & Jelly

peanutbutterandjelly.jpg
Image by Cristina Ng/That's

Taking its cue from our favorite childhood sandwich, this one gets its pretty color from frozen berries (blueberry, blackberry and raspberry) and red dragon fruit. Even though it’s made mostly of fruit, the addition of avocado makes this number extremely luscious. Use coconut milk as your liquid for even more yummy fat, but beware portion sizes.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 100g frozen three berry mix

  • 100g frozen sliced bananas

  • 75g frozen sliced red dragon fruit

  • Half a frozen avocado

  • 2-4 tbsp coconut milk

  • 1 tbsp peanut butter

  • Dash of salt

Toppings:

  • Peanut butter drizzle

  • Freeze-dried berries

Tip #1: Make sure that all of your fruit is frozen or you will end up with something more like a smoothie bowl.

Tip #2: Melt the peanut butter in the microwave or a heat-safe bowl over a simmering pot of water.


3. Piña Colada

IMG_1632.JPG
Image by Cristina Ng/That's 

Turning our favorite boozy tropical cocktail into a healthy dessert is super simple. The addition of pineapple plus lime makes this an excellent source of vitamin C. Keep in mind that using citrus juice means that less coconut milk is necessary.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 200g frozen sliced bananas

  • 175g frozen chopped pineapple

  • 2 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes

  • 1-3 tbsp coconut milk

  • 1 tbsp lime juice

  • Dash of salt

Toppings: 

  • Lime zest

  • Pineapple wedge

Tip: If this feels too virtuous, add a shot of your favorite rum and reduce the coconut milk accordingly.


4. Lemon Blueberry

IMG_1633.JPG
Image by Cristina Ng/That's 

More sorbet than ice cream, this recipe doesn’t need any milk at all. Make this one for the lemon tart lovers in your life. If you aren’t familiar with vanilla beans, all you have to do is scrape out the inside and dump that fragrant caviar-like substance into the food processor.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 150g frozen sliced bananas

  • 150g frozen blueberries

  • Juice of one lemon

  • Zest of one lemon

  • 1 tbsp honey

  • 1 vanilla bean

  • Dash of salt

Toppings:

  • Bee pollen

  • Blueberries

Tip: Keep things vegan by forgoing the bee pollen garnish and replacing maple syrup for honey. 


5. Black Sesame

blacksesame.jpg
Image by Cristna Ng/That's 

One of our top Asian dessert ingredients, black sesame makes excellent ice cream (ahem, sorry ‘nice’ cream) too. In addition to a strikingly dramatic color, this dessert has plenty of zinc, selenium, copper, iron, vitamin B6 and vitamin E. We think almond milk amps up the nuttiness of the seeds nicely here.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

300g frozen sliced bananas

2 tbsp black sesame paste

2-4 tbsp almond milk

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 vanilla bean

Dash of salt

Toppings:

  • White dragon fruit

  • Sliced Almond

Tip: The riper your bananas are before freezing the less maple syrup you will need.


Where to Shop

Epermarket

Besides the ingredients mentioned below, we sourced all the necessary items for these recipes from this online grocer. They have an excellent selection of nuts, seeds, fruit, vegetables and baking products. We also like their eco-conscious packing materials. epermarket.com

epermaket.com

MissGreen

The brainchild of vegan chef Vivian Chang, Taipei’s MissGreen is on the hunt for a brick and mortar in Shanghai. In the meantime, you can follow them on WeChat for updates on plant-based pop-ups and recipes. They also have an online shop with meal plans, chia pasta, spirulina (that we used in the mint chip recipe) and more.
WeChat ID: missgreensh

Lizzy’s All Natural

Health coach Elizabeth Schieffelin combines fruit, vegetables, yogurt, housemade nut milk and superfoods in dizzyingly delicious combinations to create her smoothies. We used her cashew milk, which is available in-shop or online. If you want to convert these recipes into a post-gym reward, we recommend adding a scoop of Lizzy’s hemp protein or pea protein. 
lizzysallnatural.com

Doterra

Doterra has a vast range of essential oils and blends for aromatic, topical or internal use. Whether or not you are on the essential oil bandwagon, a couple of drops of their peppermint oil gives mint chip ice cream that signature minty freshness.
chinaservice@doterra.com

Alex Shop Store

One of the many import shops dotting the city, Alex Shop Store has three locations. We often stop in for several products, including freeze-dried fruit that makes a great garnish to any of these recipes.

See listings for Alex Shop Store here

Taobao or Baopals

If you don’t know how to use Taobao, learn how immediately. It’s where we go for hard to find ingredients such as cacao nibs and bee pollen – both of which came up easily using English keywords. If you are still wary, Baopals is a clever platform geared to non-Chinese speakers that allows you to shop from Taobao and Tmall.

Taobao.com
Baopals.com

[Cover images by Cristina Ng/That's, Design by Joan Dai/That's]

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