FRONT BURNER: Banana-based nice cream a cool treat

Strawberry, Caramel and Chocolate Nice Cream (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)
Strawberry, Caramel and Chocolate Nice Cream (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

As our summer heats up, I'm on a constant search to cool down.

Which means I'm eating a lot of frozen treats.

Ice cream. Popsicles. Smoothies. Frozen grapes. Nice cream.

Contrary to what you may have heard, nice cream (aka banana ice cream) does not taste exactly like real ice cream. But it is delicious. And on a hot day it's a much cooler way to deal with a glut of overripe bananas than firing up the oven to bake banana bread.

It also makes a tasty, no sugar treat for the kiddos and the doggos. (Did you know dogs love bananas?!)

The process is quite simple — so simple it doesn't even require a recipe — peel the bananas, cut them into chunks and freeze. Once they are frozen solid, whirl them, along with a splash of juice or milk and any other desired ingredients, in a food processor or heavy-duty blender until smooth. Serve immediately as "soft serve" or transfer to freezer container and freeze until scoopable.

That's it.

You'll need one average size banana per serving.

Additional flavor options are endless:

2 to 3 tablespoons of peanut butter

Frozen strawberries or pulverized freeze-dried strawberries

2 tablespoons of cocoa powder or chocolate chips

A sprinkle of cinnamon

Frozen pineapple or mango chunks

2 or 3 pitted dates (if you want it sweeter without adding sugar)

A splash of cream or coconut milk

Of course, you could go sweeter and add a few tablespoons condensed milk or caramel sauce or a generous spoonful of Nutella.

Adults might like to add a splash of rum or bourbon.

If you plan on making this as a treat for your dog, it's best to stick with plain bananas as some of the ingredients mentioned above are toxic to dogs.

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