Review: Yonanas Healthy Dessert Maker

My favorite Christmas gift this year: a Yonanas Healthy Dessert Maker. I’d seen it for sale at Bed, Bath & Beyond, but figured it was just another gimmicky, “As Seen On TV” gadget.  Nevertheless, my curiosity got the best of me, so I put it on my “wish list” for Christmas. Sure enough, Santa was kind enough to bring me one. The machine itself is pretty unimpressive right out of the box, made of black and silver plastic, and decidedly “no frills”.  It doesn’t even come with a bowl to catch the dessert in.  The recipe book that’s included has some basic recipes, some that use bananas and some that don’t. Alas, the recipe book I put on my wish list was on back order, so I had to search the internet to find additional variations. 
The concept is pretty simple: take those overripe bananas, peel them and pop them in the freezer, and within 24 hours you can enjoy a frozen dessert that is similar to soft serve ice cream without all of the fat and calories. Considering the fact that I am always looking for ways to eat healthier, and I usually end up turning overripe bananas into decadent banana bread, this seemed like a good alternative.
I’ve only used it a couple of times, but so far, so good!
The basic recipe uses two frozen bananas, but you can also mix in other types of fruit.  For my first try, I used bananas with a few frozen strawberries and raspberries mixed in. It’s important that the fruit be frozen solid, but also that you wait just a few minutes after taking it out of the freezer, so that it’s not rock hard when you put it in the machine–otherwise, it takes forever for it to come out. I was a little impatient for the first batch, and some of the fruit came out a little icy, but it was still delicious.
For the second go-round, I followed a recipe I found on the Yonanas website for Berry Chocolate Zin.  It’s a combo of frozen bananas, dark chocolate, mixed berries, and frozen cubes of red wine. (Note: My refrigerator/freezer has a built-in ice maker, so I didn’t have any ice cube trays in the house. Instead, I improvised and used an empty plastic egg carton container to freeze some leftover wine.  Worked like a charm!).  The bananas weren’t quite as frozen as the ones I used in batch #1, so the consistency of this recipe was a lot softer, but still delicious.  
According to the Yonanas website, you can skip the bananas entirely and just use frozen fruit to make sorbet.  I’ll give that a try tomorrow and see how it turns out. 
The basic machine costs about $50, although there are “deluxe” versions that come with some accessories.  The machine is very easy-to-clean (the chute disassembles and is dishwasher-safe, but honestly–it only takes a couple of seconds to rinse everything off) and so far, I haven’t found anything about it that I don’t like.   
UPDATE: I’ve used this machine a few more times, and still love it. You can make sorbet by using fruit without bananas, but adding the bananas give you that creamy texture that mimics ice cream and makes the dessert more satisfying. I’ve also tried adding a little Truvia sweetener at the end, and it makes the dessert even better. 
Here are some photos from tonight’s dessert, made with Bananas, Blueberries & Strawberries. The first photo shows the fruit just before I put it in the machine. It’s important to be a little patient and wait until the fruit is just starting to thaw–if you put it in the machine while it’s still frozen solid, the dessert won’t turn out as well, and will have chunks of frozen, icy fruit in it.  
The second photo is what it looks like right out of the machine.  You need to stir it all up to blend the flavors, which is the result you see in the last photo.  Delicious!

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