B-A-N-A-N-A-S

Bananas truly are the ish if you're trying to eat healthy. Their natural sweetness and ability to add a creamy texture when blended into dishes make them an ideal ingredient when you're trying to create healthier versions of dishes that would usually remain off-limits.

If you have a high powered blender (yes, we all mean Vitamix when we say, "high-powered blender") you can throw in a couple frozen bananas with any flavoring of your choice and make something surprisingly similar to ice cream. They're great for making protein shakes seem more like milkshakes (check out this recipe if you love chocolate) and you can also use pureed bananas to replace some of the fat in baked goods they way you would with apple sauce.

I purchase two huge bunches at a time, remove their peels, break them in half and store them in the freezer until I need them (which is almost every day). 

I'm including two more delicious recipes to use up those frozen bananas (in addition to the shake recipe linked above). The cookie dough is intended for eating as is, not cooking and it's the absolute best. You can finally eat cookie dough without feeling guilty.

If you've never made a protein pancake before, start with this recipe. It's from the ladies over at Tone It Up and it works beautifully.

Seriously Healthy Cookie Dough

Makes 1 serving

1/2 banana

1 packet or scoop of vanilla protein powder

1/2 tsp baking powder

Pinch of kosher salt

2 tbsp unsweetened carob chips

Liquid, organic stevia to taste

If banana is frozen, defrost in the microwave for 30 seconds. Mash banana, add protein powder, baking powder and salt and mix until combined. If the mixture is still really wet, you can add more protein powder until a cookie dough consistency is reached. Taste and use the liquid stevia to adjust sweetness (protein powders vary a lot in sweetness so add as much as you need). Stir in the carob chips and enjoy. This also tastes delicious after spending some time in the freezer to firm up.

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Protein Pancakes (From Tone It Up)

Makes 3 pancakes (1 serving)

1/2 banana

1 scoop vanilla protein powder

1/4 cup egg whites

1 tbsp almond milk

1 tsp cinnamon

If banana is frozen, defrost in the microwave for 30 seconds. Mash banana, add egg whites and almond milk and stir. Add protein powder and cinnamon and stir until combined. 

Preheat a nonstick pan over medium low heat. Spray pan with coconut oil cooking spray and poor batter into pan in three circles. Cook until lightly browned, about four minutes per side. Serve with fresh berries and a touch of maple syrup.

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