Best ever banana ice cream. I know, big call right? But I’m willing to bet if you try this recipe it will in fact be the best banana ice cream you’ve ever made. I don’t often give my recipes to our almost 11 month old Mila for taste testing (yet…), but this one met my requirements for almost legitimate healthy baby food. And let’s just say I couldn’t get the spoon back off her (and am now having to hide the tub until she’s done eating her vegetable main!).
If you haven’t yet discovered the beauty of homemade ice cream using bananas then now is your chance. Simply put, it’s based on churning up frozen banana, which turns into a remarkably creamy base, without the need for any added dairy or refined sugars.
You might have spotted a few other frozen banana type recipes out on the interwebs, some of which even just use one ingredient (frozen banana!). But what makes this recipe unique (and infinitely more delicious) is the addition of coconut cream to add a rich creamy element, coconut oil to recreate the smoothness of real ice cream, the best quality pure vanilla extract you can find (I use this one here) to add a luxurious depth of flavour, and a good pinch of sea salt to bring out all the flavours. Because I don’t know about you, but when I eat my ice cream, I want it to taste like ice cream, not like churned up frozen banana! If you are lucky enough to have an ice cream maker then definitely use it, but if not don’t fret. I don’t have one either and this still turns out perfectly without.
Plant-Based Whole Foods for Babies
So what do I feed Mila? A number of you have asked me about infant nutrition while on a plant-based diet, so here is a synopsis of my own experience and recommendations. I personally breast fed Mila exclusively until she was six months, and would highly recommend any new mother do the same where ever possible. Breast milk is the most complete and natural form of nutrition a baby can receive, so it’s a great idea to try and breastfeed for as long as possible.
After six months we began to introduce solid foods, first in a completely pureed form, and in the last few months more solid options for her to chew on (after she developed her first two bottom teeth and also became very interested in stealing our food off the table!). Foods that we began with included pureed organic rice and quinoa cereal, flavoured with a little natural vanilla and made simply with water. These foods are very low allergenic for babies (and adults for that matter), so are great options to start with. We sweetened them with mashed banana (which Mila absolutely adores), and later with pureed apple.
We then began to add in pureed vegetables including kumara (sweet potato), pumpkin, carrot and potato. As well as avocado (lots of avocado!), which is one of the best foods you can give your baby as it’s rich in healthy monounsaturated fats and nice and creamy which they have a strong palate for. We’ve recently broadened this out to include peas and corn, as well as more legumes such as pureed black beans and chickpeas (including homemade hummus – she loves it!). Legumes, as well as quinoa, organic tofu and tempeh are wonderful sources of plant-based iron for your baby, who needs 11mg per day (vs an adult female’s requirements at 15-18mg).
In the last month (age 10+ months), Mila’s been showing signs of wanting to be more adventurous with foods (more grabbing of spoons, and plates, ceramic ones!), so we’ve been giving her more solid pieces of food to chew on. Including well cooked (and so very soft) brocolli, beans, carrots, pumpkin, kumara, potato as well as tofu, tempeh, quinoa, amaranth, rice, oats and occasionally some of our wholemeal bread, pitas or rolls if we are having them at a meal.
We also began at around age 8 months giving her organic rice milk in addition to breast milk, normally when I am out of the house at lectures or when Mila is at one of our parents’ places. I pumped milk throughout the year (even in the back row of lectures – apologies to my fellow student colleagues!), so that she would still have breast milk on the days when she was with Tony or our parents. But more recently the rice milk has also been nice to take the pressure off that a little and also given she’s eating a lot more.
Plans for the next few months? I will continue breastfeeding until at least 12 months 4-6 times per day (when I’m with her) and 1-2 times at night, that making up a good 40-50% of her diet still. I then plan to keep breastfeeding after this as long as she continues to show interest (which is already waning somewhat during her high-energy spells in the day!), and as the variety of solid foods we feed her increases, to make sure she is receiving as optimal a spectrum of nutrition as I can give her. I shall update you as I go, if it’s of interest, so do let me know!
Back to our ice cream (as approved by little Mil). I hope you’ll give this lovely recipe a go and share it with your family and kids. As it has quite a high fruit content, I like to serve it with something creamy and nutty to offset that sweetness. My perfect combo is to make sundaes, layering a scoop of ice cream in a glass followed by a scattering of berries, a big dollop of your favourite nut butter (mine is this ABC butter here, or buy it premade here), and a generous shaving of dark chocolate (make my homemade version here or else buy one of these pre-made blocks here). Follow again with your second scoop, more berries, another fulsome dollop of nut butter and more shaved chocolate. Unless you’re really going to give this to your 11 month old, in which case Mila just has a single scoop with some blueberries!
As always I’d love to hear what you think. So leave me a comment below or take a snap of your ice cream creations on Instagram tagging me @begoodorganics and #begoodorganics – I’d love to come say hellow and see what you’ve come up with!
Til then, have a beautiful weekend friends.
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Please note – if you are wanting to meet any of the specific dietary requirements below, please read my recipe notes.
- 4 large ripe bananas sliced and frozen
- ½ c coconut cream liquid but cool
- 2 tbsp coconut oil melted but cool
- 1 tbsp coconut nectar*
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- pinch sea salt
- ¼ tsp guar gum OR 1 tsp lecithin optional**
- To serve: berries nut butter, shaved chocolate
- Slice banana and put in a glass/ceramic container in the freezer overnight.
- In the morning, pull it out and leave on the bench for five minutes to soften slightly (will make things easier on your processor).
- Meanwhile put your coconut oil, coconut cream and vanilla in a glass and put it in a bowl of boiling water for a few minutes so it can melt together (you want it to be completely liquid before adding, no hard bits).
- Pop your banana and salt in a food processor and begin to blend. As it starts to turn into small crumbs, pour in your liquid coconut mixture slowly through the top of the machine, as it is still running. Finally sprinkle over the guar gum or lecithin if using, and blend again until well combined. This technique ensures that you don’t get any hard specks of coconut oil or cream forming through your mix, or solid clumps of guar gum, and you’ll end up with a silky ice cream-like texture.
- Once everything is super creamy (don’t overblend or it will start to go gooey, losing it’s genuine ice cream taste and texture), pour into a chilled container straight away and pop back in the freezer.
- If you want to eat it straight away as a soft serve style ice cream you can. Otherwise if you prefer a firmer ice cream (like I do) with actual ice cream scoops, leave it for 3-4 hours in the freezer. Alternatively you can leave it overnight and just bring it out on the bench half an hour before serving the next day.
- To make into sundaes, pop a scoop of firm ice cream in a glass, followed by a scattering of berries, a big dollop of your favourite nut butter (mine is this ABC butter here), and a generous shaving of dark chocolate (make this homemade version or else buy one of these pre-made blocks here). Follow again with a second scoop, more berries, more nut butter and shaved chocolate. Enjoy your healthy ice cream goodness while the sun is shining!
- If you are indeed planning to give this to your infant, then I recommend dropping the coconut nectar (just pick riper bananas!) – your child will still love it. I did this with our second batch so that Mil could legitimately eat a whole scoop sans added sweetener. Although the flavour profile for me was infinitely better with the added nectar so please don’t skip it if it’s just for you – combined with the salt it really helps to bring out the rich natural banana taste! You can also use brown rice malt syrup in place of the coconut nectar here.
- The guar gum/lecithin is entirely optional and I generally make it without, but it can assist in reducing any crystals if you plan to keep your ice cream in the freezer for a while (ours only lasts 1-2 days, so I don’t bother!).