One of my greatest food altering moments involved a banana. Newly gluten-free and timidly entering the world of special-diet cooking, I watched as a woman on TV blended a mixture of frozen banana chunks, vanilla extract, and a splash of milk. That was it. And ta-da, she made a vanilla milkshake without ice cream. In under five minutes. Mind. Blown.
Since that fateful day, I’ve discovered more of banana’s talents beyond splits.
As most vegans know, bananas make an excellent binder in baking, acting as a replacement for eggs or the secret to clumpy granola. Its creamy texture, when mashed or blended makes pancake batter and eggnog without flour or cream. With a little time in the freezer and melted chocolate, they become bon bons. And when kept in its peel and wrapped in foil, it’s the solution for graham cracker-free s’mores.
But here’s a new trick for banana: butter-less cream frosting.
Apparently, with enough patience and powdered sugar, you can make a buttercream glaze for cookies, cakes, and of course, banana bread.
Simply take two overripe bananas (or roasted for extra flavor) and use a fork to smash them until creamy. Then begin adding powdered sugar one cup at a time, blending with a hand-mixer on high. After about 3 cups, the banana mixture should be thick and ready to use.
Old Ingredients, New Tricks
As someone who constantly makes over dishes for dietary and health needs, I'm used to using total creative license when it comes to food. And the good news is we already live in a culinary world where zucchinis can be noodles, beets can be chips, and cucumbers can act like baguettes. So over these five days, let me be your guide as we dust off some standard items from the produce aisle and give them a chance to show off a little. It’s an exercise in recipe liberation (not limitations) that will not only lighten up those eating habits but also give new life to old favorites.
So whether you’re trying to ditch the gluten, sugar, or just a pant size this new year, let’s forget about pledging to take on a new diet. And let’s pledge instead to break some rules and teach a handful of old ingredients some new tricks.
(Image credits: Jessica Goldman Foung; Faith Durand)