Thursday, September 12, 2013

Banana Cherry Garcia Soft Serve from The simple veganista

Banana Cherry Garcia Soft Serve

Cherries + dark chocolate is always a winning pair. Here I have continued my love of banana based ice creams and have added the duo to make this Banana Cherry Garcia Soft Serve ice cream. The inspiration comes from one of Ben & Jerry's top selling ice creams 'Cherry Garcia'. Here I have veganized it using simple ingredients that come together making a quick and easy soft serve to enjoy during the coming summer months. Gather some of the season's cherries, freeze some bananas and get your chocolate ready...all in the name of good health and a tasty treat that you will enjoy time and time again. Eating healthy and cruelty free is as delicious as can be!

Dark chocolate can happily be a part of your healthy diet as long as it's enjoyed in moderation. I usually have a small chunk every night with a dollop of almond butter as my dessert. Some of the benefits of dark chocolate/raw chocolate are its powerful anti-oxidants. These anti-oxidants may help to control blood sugar levels by helping the body use its insulin more efficiently. This in turn may help with reducing the risk of diabeties. It also can help improve and lower cholesterol. Dark chocolate has flavanols that may lower the risk of Alzheimer's and slow the onset of dementia. These same flavanols may protect your skin from UV damage. It's also rich in vitamins and minerals, can improve your mood, and reduce your stress.. These are just some of the benefits associated with dark chocolate. It's best to consume chocolate that is 70% cocoa and above or pure raw chocolate, as it will have the most benefits. And to the men out there, it has been found that men benefit most from eating dark chocolate in moderation. So enjoy your dark chocolate without feeling guilty. For more information: Web MD...Dark Chocolate For Health Benefits, Huffington Post: Chocolate Benefits & Men Benefit Most From Eating Dark Chocolate

And then there are cherries, the real star of the recipe! Cherries, known as a 'super fruit', are one of the few food sources that contain melatonin, an antioxidant that helps regulate heart rhythms and the body's sleep cycle. These little red beauties are also packed with antioxidants called anthocyanin's which aid in the reduction of heart disease and cancer. This same anti-oxidant can help reduce inflammation and swelling associated with arthritis and gout. They are a perfect post work-out snack for those looking to reduce pain and joint soreness, like runners and heavy training athletes. Cherries are abundant in vitamins C, E, potassium, magnesium, iron, folate, fiber and contain 19 times more beta carotene than strawberries and blueberries. They are perfect for any healthy lifestyle. For further reading take a look at these: Huffington Post: Cherries For Health & Seven Benefits of Cherries

Banana Cherry Garcia Soft Serve

  • 2 frozen bananas, cut into 1 inch chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups cherries, pitted and frozen (divided)
  • splash of unsweetened coconut milk or almond milk
  • scant 1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks (70% +), cacao nibs or raw chocolate chips

Place banana chunks, 1 cup cherries and splash of milk into blender/food processor and blend until just combined. You may need to scrap down the sides a few times or add another splash of milk to help the mixture move. Add in chocolate and remaining 1/2 cup cherries, pulse until just combined. Serve immediately as this is a soft serve ice cream. Top with shaved dark chocolate, cacao nibs or raw chocolate chips. Serves two generously.

Notes: It helps to freeze your serving dish beforehand if possible. Will keep your soft serve chilled a bit longer.

Variations: If you don't want any chocolate chunks try adding 1 heaping teaspoon of raw or dark cocoa powder instead. Adding a teaspoon of vanilla extract never hurts either. It adds another flavor level.


A note on bananas

These are perfectly ripe bananas and just about ready for the freezer. I usually wait until they're a bit more ripened before storing as that is when they are the sweetest and coincidentally have the most health benefits. Using them in their sweetest state means the less added sweetener you will need. So let your bananas ripen well before storing. I freeze mine whole and slice, or break in half, for the recipe if needed but you can just as well cut them into chunks before freezing. Having these on hand you can add them to smoothies, shakes and ice creams. They will stay well in the freezer six to nine months.

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