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The Banana Batida: Crave Hero

I can pass on cake. I can stop at one cookie. I'll often slice a brownie in half and be satisfied with a slim portion. I demonstrate wonderful restraint when presented with a box of chocolates... one every few days is really all I crave.

But ice cream is the point at which restraint and prudence end. I really love ice cream. It's probably my biggest dessert weakness. Maybe it's genetic. My mother believes that any proper vacation includes "ice cream every day."

To rip on the words of a newer, more moderate Cookie Monster, "Cookies are a sometimes food." And I think the same goes for ice cream. Ice cream is a sometimes food.

And yet, super-premium, super-chunky, super-sweet ice creams come in darling pint-sized containers that wait, beguilingly, in the freezer.

If there's not a siren pint of Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey calling from my freezer, there's a whole gaggle of them less than a block away at my local bodega, which is kind of like an "off-site freezer," actually.

Sometimes I get on a kick and I want ice cream every night. That's just not practical. Once a week, yes. Five times a week, no. So lately, when the ice cream urge strikes, I've been heading for the blender.

Banana Batida
Banana batida at Caracas Arepa Bar, NYC


I've been enchanted with the batida for a long while now. It's essentially a fruit shake, although many spike their batidas with rum or cachaca for cool cocktails.

They make batidas par excellence at Caracas Arepa bar... cool, creamy, sweet (but not too sweet), a little malty and lightly spiced with cinnamon (and perhaps nutmeg). So delightful, I'm not even wishing for ice cream.

While a serving of my beloved Chunky Monkey (that's 1/2 cup or 1/4 of the pint) contains:
300 calories
19 grams of fat (11 grams saturated fat)
26 grams of sugar
and just 4 grams of protein

My banana batida (a 1-cup serving) is more like :
195 calories
6 grams of fat (1 gram saturated fat)
16 grams of sugar
10.5 grams of protein
and 5 grams of fiber

A little fiber and protein help to make the batida more satisfying, since sugar without fiber often just gives me a sugar high followed by a slump. There's also some research that indicates that cinnamon may help some people regulate their sugar absorption. I just think it's tasty.

And if I were really concerned about my fat intake, I could make my batida even more virtuous by using nonfat yogurt and nonfat soymilk. But I'm more interested in flavor than virtue.

Crave-Busting Banana Batida (About 8 oz; Serves 1)

1/2 frozen banana
1/4 cup plain yogurt
6 oz plain soymilk
1 Tbsp malt powder
Sprinkle of cinnamon
Dusting of nutmeg

1. Put banana, yogurt, soymilk and malt powder in a blender. Spin until smooth.
2. Garnish with cinnamon and nutmeg.
3. Enjoy immediately.

You can switch it up by using chocolate malt powder (Choco-Banana Batida!) or a 1/2 cup frozen strawberries instead of the frozen banana (Strawberry Batida!), or frozen blueberries (Blueberry Batida!)... you get the point. Frozen fruit is essential to keeping the drink cool and giving it thickness.

I've seen recipes that use fresh fruit and ice instead of frozen fruit. That's probably the best option if you happen to have access to quality produce.

Salud!

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4.17.2008

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