Growing up, I spent my summers hanging out poolside in the hot Arizona sun. My sister and I were on a swim team and most of our summer activities revolved around the water.
Early mornings at practice and evenings at meets, playing cards on the pool deck while waiting for our races — these are some of my fondness memories. Even now, the smell of chlorine brings a smile to my face.
While it probably wasn’t beneficial to my performance (I can recall numerous occasions where I cramped up mid-sprint), one of my favorite things about swim meets was hitting the snack bar. Pickles were my favorite pre-race fuel and ice cream sandwiches were my dessert of choice should my parents decide we deserved a celebratory treat.
It’s funny to think of this now, as a soon-to-be Registered Dietitian and someone who hopes to help change our culture’s reliance on processed food. Just this weekend at the IDEA World Nutrition Summit, Dr. Yoni Freedhoff gave a presentation illuminating the irony of how we are desperate to fight pediatric obesity, yet we still use candy and junk food to reward children and raise money for children’s charities.
Most parents don’t know better, but hopefully that’s changing.
I think my parents did their best to provide us with a healthy balance. We didn’t have a lot of junk food in the house and my mom always pushed the fresh produce, but we were also allowed to enjoy the occasional indulgence, and at swim meets I took full advantage of that.
I don’t eat many ice cream sandwiches these days. I think my tastebuds have evolved past them. When you eat a predominately whole foods diet, that kind of stuff just doesn’t hold the same appeal. In fact, it’s usually not appetizing at all.
What I haven’t lost my taste for though is cold, melty, sweet treats in the summer time.
Part of my mission is to show people that eating healthy doesn’t have to be painful, and you don’t have to cut out things you love.
These Blueberry Nice Cream Crunch Bars — a fancy name for banana “nice cream” (pureed frozen bananas) sandwiched between two wholesomely sweet layers of homemade granola — is just the thing to satisfy that nostalgic desire for novelty desserts and nourish your body at the same time.
They’re sweetened naturally with fruit, and just a hint of honey. Antioxidant-packed blueberries add a pop of color, while oats provide heart-healthy, gut-friendly fiber.
You can use any granola you like — the store-bought kind will save you a little time.
I recommend a homemade batch though like my Cinnamon Blueberry Granola (crush the almonds or leave them out) or my Dark Chocolate Cranberry Granola — again leave out anything chunky like whole nuts or dried fruit that won’t stick well. These recipes both only take about 20 minutes.
To make the bars gluten-free, be sure to buy certified gluten-free oats.
If you have kids (or you’re a kid at heart) and you enjoy a sweet treat in the summer, these crunch bars are a fun, nutritious option.
- 3 C. Homemade Granola
- 1 C. Blueberries (fresh or frozen)
- 6 Large Frozen Bananas
- 1 T. Milk of choice (almond, coconut, etc)
- Line a baking dish with parchment paper.
- Combine blueberries and granola and cover the bottom of the dish in a single layer of mixture.
- In a high-powered blender or food processor, process/puree bananas with the milk until they achieve a creamy, frozen yogurt like consistency. You may have to start and stop, scraping down the sides. If you're using a Vitamix, you can use the tamper to do this.
- Pour banana mixture over granola and smooth, pressing down so it sticks.
- Pour another single layer of granola and blueberries over the nice cream. Press it down slightly into the mixture.
- Freeze for at least an hour.
- When ready to eat, let bars sit out for about 5 minutes to soften.
Pin it for later! >>