Going Yonanas: Kid taste-testers rate frozen treats made with bananas

"Vegetable ice cream." That phrase caught my attention after reading my 10 zillionth news release of the week. A P.R. type claimed some kitchen gadget called the Yonanas could make any frozen fruit "look and taste like soft-serve ice cream." She ...

"Vegetable ice cream."

That phrase caught my attention after reading my 10 zillionth news release of the week.

A P.R. type claimed some kitchen gadget called the Yonanas could make any frozen fruit "look and taste like soft-serve ice cream." She even went so far as to say it could transform vegetables into a delightful Dairy Queen-like (or maybe Dairy Green-like?) treat.

I was intrigued, if skeptical.

On the one hand, this sounded like crazy food voodoo talk.


On the other, the possibilities were endless. I envisioned parents everywhere winking at each other while their clueless child happily scarfed down Mint-Broccoli-Chip or Tomato-Frutti "ice cream."

And so I contacted the P.R. person and asked to have a machine sent to me.

I also did a little research.

I learned the Yonanas machine is the invention of caterer/personal chef Eileen McHale.

In an online bio, McHale says she always loved the creamy and refreshing texture of ice cream but found it didn't really agree with her. She began experimenting with professional culinary equipment and frozen bananas in efforts to make smooth, ice cream-like treats. In time, she and her husband developed a machine for the home cook.

Their invention (which retails for about $50 at places like Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond) is not like a hand mixer or ice cream maker. Unlike a blender, it manages to mix up bananas and other fruits without separating the juice from their fibers. (One online blogger cleverly described it as a "squidgifier.")

Upon receiving the Yonanas device, I was underwhelmed. It looked like the oversized joystick to a '90s video game.

And there didn't seem to be much of a learning curve to use it: You simply feed a frozen banana into the machine, which "squidgifies" it into an ice cream-like base. After that, you can add other frozen fruits, such as strawberries, mangoes or watermelon. Then you finish it off with one more frozen banana.


The result was promising: an appealing, pleasantly cold dessert with a mild banana flavor. Even better, you didn't need to add other high-calorie ingredients to it to get a frozen treat. (On the Weight Watchers program, Yonanas'd fruit equals zero points.)

What the kids thought

But now for the real test. What would kids think of it?

Even better, what would kids think of it if I slipped in some not-so-kid-friendly ingredients?

The Yonanas literature makes a few passing references to vegetables - I think canned beets were mentioned somewhere - but I wanted to really push the boundaries.

So in preparation for a child-approved taste-test, I not only froze peeled bananas, blueberries, strawberries and watermelon, but also kale, scalded grape tomatoes and baby carrots.

For the taste test, we invited kids of varying ages: Breckin Frank, 10 months; Kate Nowatzki, 18 months; Tess Reisenauer, 4; Che Larson, 5; Caitlin Frank, 7; Nick Crommett, 9; and Gabe Crommett, 12.

We started with a yummy, all-fruit combo and then gradually added more green stuff.


Along the way, Official Yonanas Operator Dianna Baumann discovered a few tricks to running the machine:

  • The instructions recommend freezing produce at least 24 hours before "Yonana-ing it." Likewise, the results weren't nearly as good as the fruit and veggies thawed.
  • The machine is really, really loud. Masonry workers have been working on the exterior of The Forum building, and people in the newsroom confused the Yonanas machine with the drilling and buzzing of major construction.
  • The riper the fruit, the better the results. Sweet, overripe bananas make much better soft serve than slightly green ones do.
  • If you don't want to get a leftover flavor of soft serve from the previous batch, you'll have to take the machine apart and rinse it off.

And here are the kids' impressions:
Banana-Strawberry Yonanas

  • Gabe: "More, please, It's delicious. It tastes like strawberry-banana smoothies." Gabe went so far as to say he would choose the concoction over vanilla ice cream.
  • Nick: "But it's frozen. Kind of frosty. Mom, can I get one?"
  • Tess: "Yummy, strawberries."
  • Che: "It's good."
  • Kate: She's too young to talk, but quickly ate a cupful and then held up her cup for more.

Banana-Blueberry-Strawberry Yonanas

  • Nick: (Nods approvingly.) "The first one tastes like strawberries. This one tastes like bananas."
  • Tess: "It tastes like cake."
  • Che: "I like it." Che's aunt, Amy Jacobson, adds: "Che is a very finicky eater, so that means something."
  • Nick: "It tastes like there's some orange in it."
  • Gabe: "I know what it tastes like. Deliciousness. It had some more flavors, so I like it more than the first one."
  • Caitlin: "I like it more than pizza."
  • Kate: Channeled through her dad, Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki: "Yummy. I ate most of it without throwing it on the floor, and I'm 18 months old, so that tells you something."

Banana-Kale-Strawberries-Blueberries Yonanas

  • Gabe: "There's a crunchy green thing in here, but I don't know what it was. It really tastes like nothing, but it's not really good."
  • Nick: "It tastes like asparagus."
  • Che: (Tries a few spoonfuls, but tries to flick a green fleck of kale off his spoon.)
  • Tess: (Only eats a couple of spoonfuls.)
  • Kate: (Eats most of the cup, but is spotted trying to pull green kale off her tongue.)

'Kitchen Sink' Yonanas (bananas, strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, kale and tomatoes)

  • Nick: "All I could taste was leaf and mush. It tasted like every single vegetable in the world combined was in it."
  • Gabe: "I'm definitely getting the cabbage taste."
  • Breckin: Happily gobbled it up. Mom/Forum reporter Tracy Frank says: "He really will eat anything."
  • Caitlin: "I would eat it again. I don't like tomato sauce, and I don't like tomatoes. I can't taste any tomatoes."
  • Kate: Ate only about half, although her dad ventured she was probably just full. For the record, Mike said, he sampled the fourth cup and thought it had a "terrible aftertaste ... ishy!"

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tammy Swift at (701) 241-5525

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