I remember being in grade school – I think it might have been Grade Two. With three other friends, I devised a spy game where we all wore synchronized, voice automated, cellular activated, computerized watches — made of construction paper, of course — and tracked evil villains on the recess yard. Most of our missions involved trailing the elusive Barkly Dog.

Barkly Dog was an evil villain with questionable hygiene, big glasses, a mullet, and flood pants. He was also a fellow second grader with an unfortunate last name. Because our tracking watches were still in the development stages, we had to modify some of their features. The voice automation and cellular communication malfunctioned often (always), so we had to resort to shouting Barkly Dog’s recess yard movements to each other while we hid behind scattered trees. Barkly Dog never made any indication that he could hear us, so we figured the “invisible voice” feature on our watches had been enabled. Obviously.

I know now what horrible children we were and John Barclay probably looks back on those formative years with disdain. If I ever run into John, I wouldn’t blame him if he punched me in the face, if not for calling him Barkly Dog, then for using his story to introduce some silly recipes. I am starting to think I’m not succeeding in conveying my remorse for my actions. John Barclay, if you’re out there, probably with a hot wife and a six figure income…or not…either way, I am sorry. Truly.

What inspired this impromptu repentance is this week’s feature food: Bananas.

John Barclay’s name opened the gate for dog related nicknames. My name is Anna. Do the math.

On behalf of all Annas over the age of five, let me clear it up once and for all: We’ve heard it before, you’re not clever, it’s not that funny and that’s why we’re not laughing.

And if you think you are making fun of our name, well, you’re not because bananas are AWESOME! Bananas are full of potassium. Why do we need potassium? Potassium plays an important factor in the regulation of acid-base levels and blood pressure. It is important in the transmission of nerve impulses, the building muscle tissue and for the beating of your heart. It is also necessary for the metabolism of carbohydrates and proteins. It is a component necessary for balancing the PH factor in our bodies, for maintaining normal water balance and for keeping our nervous system and brain function healthy.

Bananas are also the perfect pre-workout snack because they release glucose very slowly. That’s like having an intravenous of gatorade built into your body!
My sister’s (Toe Jam’s Monica) boyfriend made banana ice cream one night by blending a frozen banana with some peanut butter. I wanted to find a recipe that took that recipe up a notch and I’m happy to report I found it. I promise these will be the best balls you’ve ever had!

Banana Ice Cream Coconut Balls
(recipe courtesy of Leftover Queen)
1 cup shredded, sweet coconut
4 very ripe large bananas
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk, chilled
2 tablespoons agave nectar
juice of 1 lime

The night before making this recipe, peel the bananas and place them in the freezer in zip loc bags.

To get this recipe started, preheat oven to 375 degrees, place coconut on a cookie sheet and bake, tossing occasionally until golden or about 4 minutes. Watch closely to avoid burning. Set aside to cool.

Place frozen banana slices in a food processor or blender and whirl until roughly chopped. Add coconut milk, agave, and lime juice and process together, scraping down sides occasionally until it is the consistency of ice cream, about 1-2 minutes. Scoop bite sized scoops of banana ice cream and place them on parchment paper on cookie sheet and freeze for 1/2 hour.

Place toasted coconut into a bowl. Remove banana ice cream balls from freezer (4 at a time so they don’t melt) and roll them in the coconut. Place them back in freezer and repeat. Let freeze for another 1/2 hour, then you can transfer them to a more compact storage container if you don’t eat them all right away.

When I decided to feature bananas, I really wanted to avoid banana bread. There are so many banana bread recipes already on the net, and I wanted to try something different. Here it is…

Banana and Black Bean Brownies
15 ounces black beans, drained and rinsed
2 whole bananas
1/3 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup raw sugar (optional)
1/4 cup instant oats (or more)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8×8″ pan and set aside. Combine all ingredients, except oats, in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth, scrapping sides as needed. Stir in the oats and pour batter into the pan.

Bake approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before slicing. If you find these brownies are too soft or too fudge-y, add another 1/4 cup oats or flour.

I still feel bad about ruining second grade for John Barclay, but whoever ruined Christmas for this kid is just hilarious!