If you like Banana Bread Lara Bars or sun-dried bananas, you’ll love these banana-cashew balls. Easy to make, they contain no refined sugar, flour, or oil.
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 10 small balls. Place each one on a plate, not touching. Cover and keep refrigerated.
Nutritional info is approximate.
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JillJune 4, 2010 at 12:42 pm
Yummy!!!! I love that combination….I just LOVE your blog – I don’t know what or how we would eat without you!!!!
TiffanyJune 4, 2010 at 12:46 pm
I love how easy AND tasty this sounds. 🙂 I think a walnut variation would be good, too. Hmmmm eating these in moderation might be a problem…thanks for sharing.
Coco @ Opera Girl CooksJune 4, 2010 at 12:54 pm
I’ve never heard of desiccating bananas in the microwave like this! Clever method and a delicious looking treat.
KarenJune 4, 2010 at 12:55 pm
Sounds like a great snack recipe for our backpack trips! Thanks!
MarciJune 4, 2010 at 1:28 pm
These look delicious, but is there anything I can sub the dates with? I’m just not a fan of dates. 🙁
SusanVJune 4, 2010 at 1:57 pm
You could try any sweet and sticky dried fruit: raisins and plums come to mind.
MarciJune 5, 2010 at 9:46 am
Thanks Susan! I’m going to give that a try! 🙂
Snack-GirlJune 4, 2010 at 1:48 pm
I love this idea – I do one with just dates and almonds with a little cocoa and honey. I call them no-bake-chocolate balls. Snack Girl
DanielleJune 4, 2010 at 2:38 pm
Recipe looks yum minus the microwave,I loathe microwaves,they kill enzymes in foods many times more so then cooking on a stove does. Do you think cooking on a stove or in the oven would work okay for this recipe? Thanks 🙂
SusanVJune 4, 2010 at 3:02 pm
I totally disagree with you about the microwave; studies show that microwaved foods actually contain more nutrients that foods cooked in other ways. But you can use either sun-dried bananas that you purchase or homemade dehydrated bananas in the recipe. I haven’t tried using an oven, but you should be able to find instructions on the internet for drying bananas at a low oven temp.
DanielleJune 4, 2010 at 5:26 pm
Thank You kindly for the info. I have a food dehydrator. As for the microwave info were obviously relying on different info. I’m relying on info. from a detailed study where food that was cooked via microwave and stovetop and oven all had different energy or auras around it. The stovetop and oven food all had much less energy then raw foods meaning enzymes,and the microwaved food all of it had zero energy field/aura in it under microscopes. So it was called dead food after that. Interesting study to me. Thanks again,and I have no problem having a different opinion than you do, I appreciate you just the way you are. 🙂
ScientistJune 4, 2010 at 10:18 pm
I mean absolutely no ill will, but I think you might have been misinformed about microwaves. Microwaves cook food by heat, just like stovetops do. Heat (or, really, temperature) is just a measure of how fast the molecules in something are moving around. In a microwave, electromagnetic radiation (that is, light) bombards your food. The frequency (and therefore, also the energy) associated with the electromagnetic radiation in a microwave is actually less than visible light, as is produced by lightbulbs, and much less than ultraviolet light that gives you a sunburn. The microwave radiation causes the molecules in your food to bounce around and that means your food heats up and cooks. When you cook food on a stovetop, you are imparting heat to your food through conduction. In the oven, you impart heat through radiation. Either way, the end result is the same: your food gets heated up and it cooks.
Again, I honestly don’t mean to knock your beliefs and opinions. As a scientist and educator I just felt like I should offer you a scientific perspective.
DanielleJune 9, 2010 at 5:33 pm
I have no problem with you knocking my views/beliefs/opinions. I was just expressing myself,just like your expressing yourself. It’s a healthy exchange. When you said your a scientist and an educator honestly it means nothing to me because I have met both scientists and educators that are sorely mistaken in their knowledge of things. To me radiation is not nor never will it be a healthy thing to be around,to eat food from radiation/radiated etc. To me the healthiest of foods that we all can eat is raw,with all enyzmes intact. Happy day to ya!
MaryJune 4, 2010 at 2:52 pm
Oh they look delicious! They remind me of Fudge Babies. Have you heard of those? Here’s the link:
My kids can’t get enough Fudge Babies, so I’m betting they’ll love these as well!
Ariana@ The Frugally Rich LifeJune 4, 2010 at 4:15 pm
This looks awesome. Just thought I’d mention that when I tried to cook a banana in the microwave for 7 minutes I ended up burning mine and burning the bowl the banana was in and the plate (for extra drips) underneath. I got it off eventually, but just thought I’d let you guys know how important the 60% power!! is that I overlooked. 🙂
CourtneyJune 4, 2010 at 5:00 pm
What a brilliant idea to dry the bananas! Do you think it would work for other fruits?
AllisonJune 4, 2010 at 5:55 pm
What would you suggest as an alternative to microwaving the banana? The oven, I’m sure, but how long do you think they should be in there? I don’t use a microwave for consumables. Would appreciate any thoughts. Looks yummy….hope to try it out soon as long as I can find a sub for the nuke. 🙂
moonwatcherJune 4, 2010 at 6:48 pm
These look delicious, and I love hearing about the summer swim team practices and E’s attending appetite. By the way, the photo of inside the food processor is particularly cool
I’d sure have trouble just eating one of these, I think. 🙂 Unfortunately, I am not on a swim team as an excuse!
ToriAugust 22, 2011 at 9:36 pm
Cashew are actually lower in fat and higher in protein than any other nut. I don’t think these would be too bad, fat-wise. They look delicious! Thanks for the recipe!
ToriAugust 22, 2011 at 9:37 pm
sorry- meant for that to be a general comment. Oh, by the way, you could probably dry the bananas in the oven on low heat on some parchment paper or something. I’m sure it would work fine!
Mary @ Bites and BlissJune 4, 2010 at 8:54 pm
I’m always looking for bite size treats like these!! Banana bread’s one of my favorites. Thanks for the recipe!
PeaSoupJune 4, 2010 at 10:42 pm
Amazing – this is variation of a recipe I discovered and blogged about recently. I can’t wait to try these! Brilliant blog, I always find something when I’m on here:)
NikkiJune 5, 2010 at 3:20 am
Do you think there is any other fruit I could use instead of banana? I’m not a huge fan of banana flavoured things! Do youi think dried apricots would do? hmmm..!
I *love* yoursite btw, your chocolate orange cake is an absolutle staple in this house!
SusanVJune 5, 2010 at 9:40 am
Hi Nikki, check out my comment below for some non-banana options. Also, at the end of the post there is a link to my cherry-nut ball recipe which you might like. The thing about this recipe is that it’s endlessly adaptable to your own taste, so don’t hesitate to get creative with it.
~mellyJune 7, 2010 at 10:51 pm
i make a variation that is cooked using only peanut butter, honey, and oats.
one part honey, one part peanut buter (i like extra crunchy) and two parts quick oats, plus a littlemore.
mix honey/peanut butter in a small pot, let come to a bubble, add oats, stir. keep stirring while on the heat to let it “dry out” some. it will come into a ball around your spoon. (i use a longhandled wooden spoon. )
then form into balls. awesome good.
SuzanneJune 5, 2010 at 3:43 am
I just wanted to say I just found your website and just love it! I’m going to be trying your okra and lima bean masala this week! Keep those recipes coming! Good job! <3
SusanVJune 5, 2010 at 9:35 am
I just wanted to note that after receiving several comments for and against microwaves, I’m not going to approve more microwave comments because I don’t want this blog to be taken over by the debate, as I’ve seen happen on other blogs. You all know my opinion, which I base strictly on scientific studies and which I’m willing to change if credible negative studies come out.
If you want to make the recipe without using a microwave, there are a few options open to you: 1) Buy sun-dried bananas. These are chewy, whole bananas (not banana chips) that have been naturally dried and are available in natural food stores. 2) Use a dehydrator to dry your own bananas to the dense, chewy stage. 3) Use another dried fruit instead of bananas. Raisins and prunes are sticky enough, and you can add other dried fruit such as cherries, pineapple, and cranberries. Dates provide the primary stickiness, so as long as you have them, you can get creative and add whatever fruit you like, as well as flavorings like cocoa powder, cinnamon, and ginger. These kinds of date-nut balls have been around for years, and there are no limits to the variations you can make, so have fun!
jaimeJune 5, 2010 at 10:59 am
I love your quick & easy recipes! This is one of the few food blogs where I don’t just admire the recipes from afar, I actually do attempt your recipes for cooking/baking, and that’s saying a lot from someone who rarely uses her kitchen 🙂
Vegan TravelerJune 5, 2010 at 1:47 pm
Please stop it Susan! I’m trying to cut back on my fat. Then again, what’s a few of between friends. I never thought of using the microwave to nuke the bananas. I’m going to substitue macadamian nuts because I’m out of cashews. 🙁
BTW – I’m sharing your easy lasagna recipes again!
AltaJune 5, 2010 at 7:37 pm
Wow…these look good! I’ve made date balls and carrot “cake” balls, but banana? I would have no self control around these.
JessicaJune 6, 2010 at 2:57 am
I should probably refrain from making these as I am pretty sure I’ll gobble them all at once!
maayaJune 6, 2010 at 12:32 pm
looks amazing and so healthy! simple and easy ..
Stacey@http://stacey-healthylife.blogspot.com/June 6, 2010 at 4:55 pm
I’m hooked on these types of nut balls. Thanks for the recipe and a great go to snack. I just need to get a food processor asap.
JessicaJune 6, 2010 at 9:22 pm
Thanks so much for these great treats! I’ve created a few versions of this (using dried apricots instead of dates, rolling them in toasted coconut and/or crumbled walnuts, etc.) and they’ve all been great!
Amber Shea @Almost VeganJune 7, 2010 at 11:52 am
Banana + cashew = YUM! And I love that these could easily be made with a dehydrator instead of the microwave. (My birthday-present-Excalibur is in the mail on its way to me, YAY!)
cassie StradlingJune 7, 2010 at 2:18 pm
this sounds great! but i don’t own a microwave… what could i do with the bananas instead?
SusanVJune 7, 2010 at 2:35 pm
You can use a dehydrator or buy sun-dried bananas. I’m afraid that I don’t know of any other options.
IP Lawyers MelbourneJune 7, 2010 at 6:47 pm
Oh my god those lit balls just so cute…love love love …thank you for your recipe.
Ellen (I Am Gluten Free)June 7, 2010 at 9:07 pm
These look like a perfect, quick pick-me-up for snacking on before I head to the gym. Thanks!
JoanneJune 8, 2010 at 8:41 am
Terrific snack suggestion. I love the healthiness of the fruit and nut combo plus can imagine how satisfying the taste is. Great recipe!
Kady MorrisJune 8, 2010 at 10:08 am
That looks absolutely delicious… and I love the fact that it looks simple enough to get even young children involved in preparing them. It can be a real struggle to keep my kids eating vegetarian with all the temptations they face but treatrs like this help show them that “our” way of eating is just as enjoyable! Thanks so much – I’m so glad I found this blog… 😉
Watch SouthparkJune 8, 2010 at 10:06 pm
Yeah and next we’ll be debating oil spills! 🙂
Jackie VetterJune 9, 2010 at 1:18 pm
Hey, Susan! Since I am doing raw foods, mostly, what do you think the texture would be like if I didn’t use any oats? I know there are raw oats, but I’m really not using any grains right now. Maybe some other kind of nut might work, do you think? I’d really like to try to make them raw.
Also, since I don’t even have a microwave in the house, would a dehydrator work for drying the bananas do you think? I think it would probably work, just have to watch them and not get them too dry!
Thanks for your input!
Jackie VetterJune 9, 2010 at 1:22 pm
Just read the other comments! 🙂 Should always read before I go asking questions! 🙂
So, my questions are answered! 🙂 Thank you very much!
SusanVJune 10, 2010 at 5:48 pm
Ha! Jackie, I’m glad to be of service! Please let me know how the dehydrator works out.
PriscillaJune 10, 2010 at 3:21 pm
Many newer ovens now have a drying cycle. I have dried fruit in mine and they turned out fine. I also have a dehydrator for larger loads. Will enjoy trying this recipe.
Michelle LudwigJune 10, 2010 at 10:08 pm
Can these be frozen?
SusanVJune 10, 2010 at 10:11 pm
I don’t see why not.
Jessica L CanealJune 13, 2010 at 4:16 pm
Just wanted to compliment you on the amazingly delicious and creative recipe. I made these for potluck birthday party yesterday and they were absolutely delicious. I dipped mine in melted chocolate to make them more fancy like a truffle, and then sprinkled a few crushed cashews on top. But they were amazing even without the chocolate! You are a natural, intuitive chef who is always coming up with amazing ideas. I enjoy reading this blog very much.
NatashaJune 14, 2010 at 10:47 am
Hey, these look fantastic! I love looking at your blog by the way, so fascinating!
I noticed that you said you can use plums or raisins instead of the dates. How many raisins would you suggest to use, since you only have “2 dates” written in the ingredients. I want to make these today, and would really appreciate a little direction, thanks!
SusanVJune 14, 2010 at 11:15 am
I would start with 1/4 cup of raisins and add more if necessary. Please let me know how that works, if you try it.
lovemyfamilyJune 17, 2010 at 9:52 am
these were great. It took me awhile to figure out how to cook at less than 100% power, but now I know.
VeganVersionJune 19, 2010 at 12:40 pm
These look absolutely decadent and amazing. I am going to try these for sure!
Maija HaavistoJune 20, 2010 at 10:12 am
Sounds lovely. I would use almonds instead of cashews though – the flavour is similar, but the fatty acid profile is much nicer.
My boyfriend is not a big fan of dates either, so in raw food cooking etc I often replace a part of them with golden raisins (since he’s not so keen on normal raisins either!), dried apple and dried apricot. Dried pineapple and dried papaya should work too if you combine them with the “stickier”fruit.
NatashaJune 22, 2010 at 11:35 am
Okay, I finally made these! I did end up trying to make these on the 14th (or maybe it was the day after, I can’t remember), but I was using my mother-in-law’s very crummy blender, and needless to say.. the whole thing failed miserably. So I had to throw that out. Luckily, I had a food processor, it was just in my parent’s basement, and I kept forgetting to get over there to get it. I finally did over the weekend, and decided to make these today. They are good! I doubled the batch, used raisins instead of dates, and used almonds instead of cashews (I like almonds better). I wasn’t sure how I felt about nuking the bananas, but I decided dehydrating the bananas for 7 minutes in the microwave was a LOT better than 18 hours in the oven.. They didn’t really dehydrate as well as what your picture shows, and I even upped the power to 70% (I guess the microwave here sucks too). They were still wet, but the balls held up well and they taste really good 🙂 Next time I will try the recipe as written.
Oh, I also decided these are the snack I am going to go to after exercising. I always crave sweet things after working out, and this will satisfy my sweet-tooth without destroying my diet/exercise efforts. Not to mention all those healthy fats and protein 🙂
NatashaJune 22, 2010 at 11:43 am
Oh, I also could not for the life of me find whole vanilla beans! I checked every grocery store, health food store, and other places that might carry such things, and could not find any. I used 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract instead (for double batch).