It gives me no pleasure to consider how many bananas I have thrown out over the years. I always like to have them around because they are nutritional powerhouses and kids love them. They are an instant snack and require no more preparation than a quick peel. When a kid complains that they are hungry, you can peel a banana just as fast as you can unwrap a candy bar. Better yet, you feel no guilt as you watch a hungry child devour it.

Bananas would be the perfect food if they didn’t ripen quite so fast. Our family is lucky to have diverse banana lovers. Some of us like them almost green and some of us like them when they have a few black spots on the yellow peel. The ripe banana lovers extend the amount of time we have to use them, but I still ended up making many loaves of banana bread over the years and sometimes I just didn’t have the time or the inclination to bake.

Several months ago, my friend Barb talked about making Yonanas. I had never heard of this and she told me about a machine she had purchased that turned over-ripe frozen bananas into a creamy, soft-serve ice cream-like frozen dessert that her grandchildren loved. That sounded like something I needed to investigate.

At the time I started looking, the Yonanas machine wasn’t available locally so I ordered one from an online source and started buying more bananas than Gregg and I could possibly eat so I would have a stash in my freezer to feed my Yonanas machine.

The first time I made the creamy concoction for our grandkids, it received rave reviews from 3 out of the 4. I knew what each family was going to receive from us for Christmas – a Yonanas machine. Those machines have been used to turn fruit that might be headed into the trash into a healthful treat.

The Yonanas machine consists of a plunger that pushes the frozen fruit through a chute and into a rapidly rotating blade that basically shaves the banana into a creamy treat. As I did a bit of research before buying this machine, I did find websites that said rather than buying a separate machine to turn these frozen bananas into a frozen treat, you could just use your blender to accomplish the same thing. I tried it, but the resulting product doesn’t come close to the creamy goodness of the Yonanas product. This is a machine that performs a unique task and worth a spot in my limited appliance storage area.

While bananas are the main ingredient in a Yonanas treat, other frozen fruit can be added for enhanced taste and nutrition. The machine comes with a recipe book that gives all sorts of hints for combinations.

One of the products that I use to add nutrition and different flavor to a batch of Yonanas is PB2, a powdered peanut butter. Stirring this powder into Yonanas adds a touch of peanutty goodness to an already delicious product. I recently found a new PB2 product that also has chocolate added to the powder. Since chocolate and bananas are a classic combination, I am looking forward to trying this product in my Yonanas.

My Yonanas machine came with a recipe guide that helped me learn to use it properly and gave me great ideas for banana/fruit combinations that we enjoy. Here are some of their ideas for great Yonanas treats.

Cookies and Cream Yonanas

2 frozen over-ripe bananas

2 chocolate sandwich cookies

Insert one-half frozen banana into machine chute, add 1 sandwich cookie, insert 1 frozen banana, add 1 sandwich cookie and insert one-half frozen banana. Stir in bowl to combine.

Strawberry Yonanas

2 frozen over-ripe bananas

3/4 cup frozen strawberries

Insert one frozen banana into machine chute, add strawberries, insert second frozen banana. Stir in bowl to combine.

Cinnamon Cocoa Yonanas

2 frozen over-ripe bananas

2 teaspoons cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine cocoa powder and ground cinnamon to create a spice blend. Sprinkle spice mixture over bananas. Insert frozen bananas into chute and process. Stir in bowl to combine.

Pistachio Yonanas

2 over-ripe bananas

12 ounces shelled pistachios

1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a food processor, grind pistachios until they look like grains of sand. In a medium saucepan, add ground pistachios to almond milk and vanilla extract and bring to a simmer. Cover and cool. Fill ice cube trays with pistachio mixture and freeze. After pistachio mixture has frozen, remove 8 cubes and set aside. Insert 1 frozen banana into chute. Add 2 pistachio cubes. Continue alternating 2 pistachio cubes and one-fourth frozen bananas. Stir in bowl to combine.

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There is a section of the recipe book that has suggestions for no bananas Yonanas. I am looking forward to using these ideas for light summer desserts. Here is a sample of a frozen melon treat.

Melon Sorbet

1/2 cup frozen chopped cantaloupe

1/2 cup frozen chopped honeydew melon

Insert one-fourth cup slightly thawed frozen cantaloupe into chute. Insert one-fourth cup slightly thawed frozen honeydew. Repeat. Stir in bowl.

Quote of the Week

Yonanas taste just like velvety ice cream. Add toppings and the flavor combinations are endless. -- Yonanas, The Healthy Recipe Guide

Ellen Lund of Fremont is a freelance food columnist.