Thursday, August 18, 2011

Frozen Summer Treat!

I’ve been wanting to post a tried and tested summer treat recipe, but hadn’t really hit any goals that I thought were worth sharing. I made a few different flavors of popsicles, but none were exciting or even tasty enough to gab about, and the ones that did taste good weren’t exactly healthy. I got an ice cream maker last spring and did some experimenting with that, but really the best flavors were the classics- vanilla and chocolate –and whenever I did come up with a flavor that was anything other than those, it was only because I used a flavor extract like mint or orange. In other words, it would be lazy of me to post a recipe for such things.

But, then, I remembered an old frozen treat from my childhood that I didn’t only enjoy eating, but also enjoyed making myself. It could be messy, but fun, and my mom was usually more than pleased to make these with me, because besides being delicious, there were actually nutritious qualities to it too. Many of you will probably know this one, but I wonder how many have actually ever made…

Chocolate-covered Frozen Bananas

2 bananas, cut in half
¾ cup chocolate chips
2 tbsp coconut oil
Extra toppings choices: shredded coconut, chopped nuts, granola, chopped dried cranberries or cherries, sprinkles, chopped espresso beans, etc.

Stick a popsicle stick or chopstick or whatever you have available to use for a handle into the bottom of each banana half, length-wise. Place the halved bananas on a tray or plate in freezer and freeze for at least 30 minutes. When the bananas are close to ready, melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil in a small saucepan or in a Pyrex glass in the microwave on high for 30 seconds. Mix until smooth. Remove from heat, then get the bananas out and carefully dip them into the chocolate, covering them, then lay on a piece of parchment paper on a tray or plate to put back into the freezer. Sprinkle with toppings of your choice. Put them back into the freezer for another 30 minutes or until set (may not take very long depending on how cold your freezer is). Best to enjoy these bananas outside under the sun!

And there you have it- a sweet, yet healthier option to store-bought popsicles and they don’t take very long to make, with little effort to boot. If you have kids that are of an age where they can handle dipping bananas into chocolate without dumping it all over themselves, they will enjoy helping you with this, and also getting to apply their very own toppings. Baby can obviously enjoy some mashed up bananas, but for an extra treat, add some shredded coconut topping. Toddlers can enjoy this at your discretion, as you may not want to give them chocolate yet or their teeth may be sensitive to the cold.

As everyone knows, bananas are super-healthy and incredibly versatile in many recipes. They are loaded with potassium, protein, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. Bananas help to improve cardiovascular and kidney health, and even contain a lesser-known prebiotic compound called fructooligosaccharide, which helps the body absorb nutrients such as calcium more efficiently, thus promoting denser bones.

One thing I’ve always noticed bananas are good for is as the perfect on-the-go snack for a burst of energy. I eat them just about every day either right out of the rind, sliced up on whole wheat toast with peanut butter and honey, in freshly-made smoothies, or in desserts such as the frozen bananas and caramelized with frozen yogurt (or vanilla ice cream!).

Since I’m also talking about chocolate here, I want to bring up a lesser-known plight that is taking place mainly in Africa that involves the way cocoa beans are harvested. Many children are forced into cocoa bean harvesting- which is very hard labor –either because it is the only way they can make money for their families, or far worse, they are often kidnapped and forced to work as slaves. They work for hours on end in the blistering sun, usually without breaks and without eating or drinking anything. Children reportedly as young as 8 years old are doing this work. And, even though many of the major chocolate companies like Nestle and Cadbury say they are doing their part to only use Fair Trade cocoa beans, it is incredibly difficult to track just where these beans are actually coming from (like a “blood diamond”).  Furthermore, many farmers in these impoverished countries are being taken advantage of and not receiving fair wages from the yields they provide.

There are a few brands that are taking greater strides to ensure they know where their cocoa beans are coming from, brands like Dagoba, Newman’s Own Organic, and Endangered Species all use organically grown beans which are also Fair Trade. Click this link to learn more about how they are certified and to see other brands that use organic and Fair Trade cocoa beans.

I don’t want to plant a guilt trip on anybody- I mean, how awful is it to have to worry if kids were breaking their backs over the cocoa used to make the delicious Godiva truffle you’re about to enjoy (sadly, they most likely were!). This issue only very recently came to my attention as it has received very little coverage in the news, like most child labor issues do, and I’m sad to say coffee beans are effected similarly. So, even though Fair Trade and organic brands do tend to cost a bit more than Hershey’s and Folgers, if you can afford it and want to make a difference, indulge your sweet tooth with a bar labeled Fair Trade Certified and/or Slave-Free to ensure you are not giving money to the types of people who would put children’s well-being at risk just to make some money.

1 comment:

  1. In the news today:

    They may not be young children, but they are young and they've had enough!


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