Dairy-Free Banana Split


During the summer, I always get nostalgic for banana splits. They’re the ultimate in old-fashioned ice cream parlor fare: three scoops of vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate, strawberries, and pineapple, nestled in between two halves of a banana. Usually, it’s finished off with whipped cream, nuts, and a maraschino cherry. Who needs that much sugar? Nobody!

But I thought it would be fun to go crazy and make one of these monsters. Since I’m lactose-intolerant, I used Simple Truth Vanilla Bean Almond Dessert, a dairy-free ice cream made from almond milk. Simple Truth is the “healthy” line of the Kroger store brand.


If you follow my blog, you know I’ve tried quite a few dairy-free ice creams, and very few of them taste as good as the real thing. Coconut-based ice creams tend to taste overwhelmingly like coconuts. The almond-based ones tend to taste like almonds. With a flavor like vanilla, it’s hard to mask the taste of the base.

Simple Truth’s vanilla is just okay. It doesn’t have as much of a vanilla-heavy flavor as I would like. You can definitely taste the almond milk in it, although it’s not as cloying as some almond milk products.


But it did a decent job in the banana split. I topped it with fresh, chopped strawberries and pineapple instead of the usual processed syrups. Even so, the sweetness of the fruit, combined with the Hershey’s chocolate syrup and the ice cream, were enough to make me want to hurl after a few bites.

How did I ever manage to eat that much sugar when I was kid? Perhaps some memories don’t need to be relived.


Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey


When I saw this in the funny papers of The Los Angeles Times, I knew I had to include it in a review of Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey ice cream. And what better time to do so than the week of 4/20? (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, never mind.)

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Let me preface this by saying I’ve never tried the regular version of Chunky Monkey, mostly because I’m not a big fan of walnuts. But I’m into bananas, fudge chunks, and vanilla ice cream, the other ingredients in Chunky Monkey. So I gave it a try.

I’m okay with walnuts in moderation. But there are a lot of walnuts in this stuff and they’re big, not little chopped bits. The other thing I don’t like about this ice cream is the banana flavor. It’s super-intense and almost sour. Doesn’t taste like real bananas.

After my taste test, I went to the Ben & Jerry’s website to read the reviews. Looks like I’m not alone: Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey got 2.5 out of 5 stars. One reviewer said that only the Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey tastes sour — the regular version doesn’t. I wouldn’t know, but I’ll take her word for it.

Not everything about Non-Dairy Chunky Monkey is bad, though. The almond milk vanilla base, as I discussed in my review of Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy P.B. & Cookies, is smooth and delicious. You cannot tell it’s dairy-free. And the chocolate chunks are great, too.

How adorable is this cup? Found it in the $1 bin at Target.

Last time I reviewed a Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy ice cream, there were only four flavors available. Since then, they’ve added three new flavors: Caramel Almond Brittle, Cherry Garcia, and Coconut Seven Layer Bar. The only one I’m interested in is Caramel Almond Brittle. You’ll be seeing my review of that one soon.

Meanwhile, still waiting for non-dairy Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. C’mon, guys!

To read my review of Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Chocolate Fudge Brownie, click here.

Easy Vegan Banana Bread


Do you always end up with a couple of bananas that are too ripe? Spotted and maybe even completely brown? Don’t throw them out — use them to make this easy vegan banana bread. Here’s what I love about this banana bread:

  • It’s dairy-free (doesn’t even contain eggs).
  • It’s super moist.
  • It only requires two bananas, so you can use those ones you have lying around that would otherwise end up in the compost.
The darker the bananas, the sweeter they taste.

I adapted this recipe from a banana cake recipe in The Peaceful Palate, a classic vegetarian cookbook. I halved the original recipe because I only had two bananas on hand, omitted the walnuts, and used a loaf pan instead of a 9-inch square pan. The result was a very short loaf of banana bread that was the perfect size for a household with only one banana bread eater (me).


I also substituted the oil with melted Earth Balance, an oil-based butter alternative. The Earth Balance worked beautifully, giving the banana bread a nice buttery flavor without the dairy. I only had the kind of Earth Balance that comes in a tub, but you can get it in stick form that’s easier to measure out for baking.

I baked this banana bread in a toaster oven and it came out way better than anything I’ve ever baked in my full-size oven. First of all, the toaster oven heats up faster so you don’t have a long preheating time. Second, it doesn’t make the house hot. And third, electric ovens produce a more even heat and better browning than gas ovens. So use a toaster oven if you’ve got it.

Now go on and put those spotty bananas to good use!

Easy Vegan Banana Bread Recipe

1 cup unbleached or whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons Earth Balance, melted and cooled
2 ripe bananas, mashed (about 1  cup)
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan. In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt together.

In a large bowl, beat the brown sugar and melted Earth Balance together. Add the mashed bananas, water, and vanilla extract; mix thoroughly. Add the flour mixture and stir to combine, just until moistened.

Spread batter evenly into greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then invert pan and continue cooling loaf on wire rack.

After banana bread is completely cool, store in plastic wrap at room temperature.