Summer’s here, and my daughter is spending large parts of her days swimming instead of sitting in a classroom. E’s on two swim teams, one that practices first thing in the morning and another that practices late in the afternoon. During the middle of the day, she’s constantly in the kitchen trying to replace the calories she’s burning off, and I’m finding it hard to keep enough food in the house to satisfy her. She’s not fond of snack food–she tends to prefer “real” food like pasta, baked potatoes, and samosas–but I like to keep a few healthy treats on-hand that she can grab on her way to or from swimming practice.
The key word is healthy, and most packaged snacks just don’t fill the bill. When you’re looking for snacks that don’t have refined sugar, flour, or oil, the only option is to make them yourself. Fortunately, with a food processor and a microwave, it’s easy to make these banana-infused treats.
If you like banana Larabars or sun-dried bananas, you’ll love these banana-cashew balls. I start with overripe bananas and “quick-dry” them in the microwave to remove their moisture, preserve them, and concentrate their flavor. You may find that one batch of these is just not enough, so feel free to double the ingredients. But be aware that they are a very concentrated source of fat and calories (no fat-free this time!), and if you aren’t a skinny 13-year-old who swims twice a day, you may want to eat them in moderation.
Note: For information about the safety of microwave cooking, see Bryanna Clark Grogan’s excellent compilation of research.
- 1 overripe banana
- 1/4 cup raw cashews (about 1.5 ounce)
- 1 tablespoon flax seeds, ground
- *3 tablespoons oatmeal (regular or quick oats)
- 2 medjool dates, pitted
- 1/4 vanilla bean, split and scraped
Cut the banana into slices about 3/4-inch thick and place them on a microwave-safe plate. Microwave on 60% power for about 7 minutes, until most of the moisture has boiled out of the banana:
Scrape the banana off the plate while it is still hot (makes cleanup easier) and allow to cool.
Pulse the cashews in the food processor until coarsely ground. Add the flax seed and oatmeal and pulse a few more times.
Add the banana and dates, and scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the processor. Blend into a thick paste.
Moisten your hands. Scoop up the paste by heaping teaspoons and form into small balls. Place each one on a plate, not touching. Cover and keep refrigerated.
Preparation time: 15 minute(s) | Cooking time: 7 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): about 10 balls
Nutrition (per serving): 65 calories, 22 calories from fat, 2.6g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1.1mg sodium, 126mg potassium, 9.9g carbohydrates, 1.4g fiber, 4.9g sugar, 1.7g protein, 1.2 points.
*Be sure to use certified gluten-free oats if gluten is a concern.