Monday, June 25, 2012

A Pinch of Sunshine: Banana Bites

One of the things I love most about summer is all the free time is provides. Time to write, time to run, time to bike, time to talk, time to hang out with friends and family, time to eat, and, of course, time to cook. Of course, throughout the course of the school year, I do write and run and bike and talk and hang out with my friends and eat (obviously), but the key word is time. Summer allows us to relax and enjoy life's pleasures. No more running in the parking lot under the street lights, no more math class conversations interrupted every two minutes by a new word problem, no more eating in the car on the way to the bus stop.

With the freedom of summer and time stretched out in front of me like a wide open grass field, I've taken the time to experiment in the kitchen a bit lately. By no means are my experiments daring or particularly innovative. My experiments typically tend to lean more toward styling foods, adding an extra ingredient for health, or combining my favorite recipes.

What's the fun in cooking, though, if you have no one to share it with? That's why this summer, I will be posting any fun recipes I find/create in a series called, "A Pinch of Sunshine." A pinch of sunshine will be sure to liven up any recipe, right???

Today's recipe is a spin-off of a recipe I found on the blog Chocolate-Covered Katie, which I've featured before on my blog in my post "Inspired by Oatmeal." As a recap or for newer readers, Chocolate-Covered Katie is, as blogger Katie describes it, "the healthy dessert blog," where she finds healthy ingredient substitutions to make those treats that may test our self-restraint. Her post was titled "Breakfast Banana Pops," which are essentially frozen banana popsicles. With the streak of hot weather we had these past couple of days, I was desperate for a cool and healthy treat.

In her recipe, she had the bananas cut in half and stuck on popsicle sticks. However, my family and I found that we liked them better off the stick and bite-sized. The ingredients required and how to make them are primarily the same, though. I'm calling them "Banana Bites."

Banana Bites

The primary ingredient, as you may have guessed, is bananas. To make the Banana Bites, I cut a banana into fourths. Our bananas were huge, so these were more like three-bite banana bites. Feel free to split the banana however you like, but the bites should be big enough so you can roll them in whatever toppings you decide. 

After you've cut the bananas, you need to roll them in some sort of coating so the toppings will stick. Pictured above is a banana rolled in peanut butter. I melted the peanut butter for 30 seconds in the microwave to make it soupier so it was easier to roll the banana.  Pictured below is a banana rolled in plain yogurt. I'm curious to try rolling a banana in honey, melted Nutella, or just plain chocolate. Who am I kidding? How can anything be "just plain chocolate?"

After you have your coating, here comes the fun part: toppings! The toppings can be anything from granola to Jimmies to slivered almonds. In Spanish, we say "a gusto," which means "to your liking." I would recommend just opening your cabinet and seeing what you have! Whatever toppings you choose, they should be small and flat enough that they will stick to the banana. (Chocolate-Covered Katie gave the idea of crushed chocolate chip cookies.)

This weekend, I tried:
  • Plain yogurt, slivered almonds, granola, drizzled honey
  • Plain yogurt, granola
  • Plain yogurt, granola, drizzled chocolate
  • Plain yogurt, crushed gingersnaps
  • Plain yogurt, Multi-Grain Cheerios
Then my mom thought of peanut butter, which I rolled in slivered almonds. How could I not have thought of that?! 

I wasn't a fan of the Cheerios, because they got kind of soggy in the freezer. My vote would go for the plain yogurt, slivered almonds, granola, and drizzled honey, and the peanut butter and slivered almonds. Next batch I make, I'm going to try softening strawberries or blueberries and rolling the Banana Bites in that. As soon as we get more shredded coconut, I'm going to try chocolate-coated with shredded coconut (another idea of my mom's...her sweet tooth is ingenious). You really can't go wrong with this recipe!

Pour your toppings into a shallow dish or plate, and roll the banana. Place a sheet of wax paper or tinfoil on a tray or plate, arrange your Banana Bites, and place in the freezer. The bananas take a good 3-4 hours to freeze, so I've been making them the night before and letting them freeze overnight. Because they're frozen, you don't have to worry about them going bad, but they might get a little freezer-burned if they're in there for an extended period of time. 

Enjoy with a pinch of sunshine!

I would love to hear some of your favorite spin-offs of this recipe. Experiment and go to town with different toppings and coatings, and please comment with some of your favorites. I'm always looking for new ideas to try. Happy experimenting!


Maddie said...

I love bananas with toppings, and those are really cool ideas! I usually spread nutella on a whole banana and cut it afterwards, and you can crush nilla wafers on top. It tastes amazing :)

Megan said...

Ohhh delicious! You really can't go wrong with fruit and chocolate :) My mom used to buy chocolate-covered frozen bananas from Trader Joe's, and they were delicious. I can't wait to try Nutella! And the nilla wafers I'm sure add a nice crunch. Thanks for sharing!

Maddie said...

No problem! I LOVE fruit and chocolate, every easter my grandma gets an edible arrangement with chocolate dip and it is SO GOOD!