Saturday, July 18, 2015

PB&J Banana Tot Dots

I've been meaning to post this for almost a year now, but time has a funny way of getting away from you, especially when you are trying to focus on being a mom, a 5th grade teacher, and a college student.  This idea actually came about while my daughter was going through a particularly difficult teething stage last summer.  There are all kinds of fantastic ideas out there for teething babies, but very few of them met all of the allergen requirements we needed.  My favorite treats were the frozen yogurt dots that are floating about on many blogs and recipe sites.  Of course those were out of the question due to her allergies.  Then I discovered vegan banana soft serve.  It's basically just frozen bananas and peanut butter (optional) blended up in a food processor and served cold.  It's really tasty, and really easy to make, and my daughter really likes bananas and peanut butter so it only made sense to use this to my advantage.  I decided to spice things up a bit and add jelly to the mix, and consequently ended up with a pretty amazing teething treat.  I would imagine you could pour this into a popsicle mold and have a treat for older kids as well, or you could just eat it straight out of the food processor.  I won't judge.

PB&J Banana Tot Dots
2 frozen bananas
2 Tablespoons peanut butter or other nut or seed butter of choice (Optional)
2 Tablespoons jelly or pureed fruit of choice (I used pureed blueberries)
  1. Line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper
  2. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth
  3. Place in a pastry bag or plastic bag with the corner cut off
  4. Dispense in small dots on the cookie sheet.  Remember that you are making them for a toddler, so you want them to be fairly small.
  5. Place the pan in the freezer. 
  6. Once the dots are completely frozen, you can move them from the pan into a separate container.  These melt VERY QUICKLY so I recommend using Tupperware lined with wax paper to separate them out in layers.  Otherwise, you will have a big gooey mess on your hands.   
*Notes: The bananas do not necessarily have to be frozen when you put them in the food processor.  However, they will be easier to work with if they are.  I found it very difficult to control the size of my dots with un-frozen bananas.  Also, because these melt so fast, you will only want to give a few at a time to your toddler.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Orange Creamsicle Smoothie

As a kid, one of my favorite summer treats was the infamous orange creamsicle; a delightful orange flavored shell with a creamy vanilla inside.  If I happened to be eating the Creamies brand of creamsicles, there was that fantasitc message written on the stick that told me to, "have another creamie," and of course I would.  I'd eat as many as my parents would allow in one sitting, which usually wasn't more than 2 (if I was lucky).  At some point, however, I lost my appetite for them.  Even before my crazy breastfeeding diet, that fake orange flavor with a whitewashed vanilla inside had stopped appealing to me.  Truth be told, frozen desserts in general had stopped appealing to me (with the exception of Ben and Jerry's).  I loved the idea of frozen orange and vanilla in a popsicle, but I preferred to have real orange and vanilla as opposed to something that had been chemically engineered to taste like it.  In fact, I forgot about orange creamsicles altogether until I was thumbing through a book by "The Blender Girl" and found her version of an orange creamsicle smoothie.  Of course I was intrigued by the idea of creating my own orange creamsicle, I just needed to create one that was allergy safe for my daughter.  I had recently used a vanilla bean to make nut milk for the first time (a truly marvelous addition to a household staple) and wanted to do something meaningful with the nut pulp (those vanilla beans are expensive).  Thus the orange creamsicle smoothie was born with real vanilla, real orange, and no cream.  While it didn't pass the 2 year old taste test of approval, it did bring back fond memories of chowing down on orange flavored Creamies and treating myself to another as per the request on the stick.  Only this time, I got to indulge guilt free with all the health benefits that real food has to offer.
Orange Creamsicle Smoothie
3/4 cup nuts soaked or nut pulp (I used macadamia)
1/2 a banana frozen
1 peach or apricot
1/2 cup mango frozen
1 Orange
1 1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 a vanilla bean (optional)
Sweetener of choice to taste (optional I didn't use any)
Place all ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth
* Note: If you are using soaked nuts instead of nut pulp, add the nuts, vanilla bean, and a portion of orange juice to the blender first and lightly blend before adding the other ingredients to ensure a smoother texture.