TikTok is my new obsession for quick recipes. The one I’m about to cover is a doozy.
First I made it for the taste test, of course. Later that day I did it a second time for additional photos. It’s so important to have the right lighting, you know. Naturally, I made it a third time so my family could try it. I may have had a bite or two, just for the sake of solid data collection (scientific method and all). And then I made it a fourth time for Sunday morning breakfast, because, friends, it’s a religious experience.
Jen Jones was a singer, until the pandemic hit the entertainment industry particularly hard. Wondering what else she could do, she turned to another love: food. She’s been cooking since she was a child and has always had a knack for it: “I just know what goes together,” she says. Several family members had health issues that required dietary changes, so she began making inroads into plant-based eating, and after noticing improvements in her own health, she switched entirely to a plant-based diet for the past 18 months.
Along the way, she’s been uploading her efforts to her TikTok and Instagram in hopes of helping others interested in trying a plant-based diet. “I wake up thinking about recipes. I go crazy thinking about recipes all day. I go to bed thinking about recipes!” she said, adding that she hopes her videos will empower people to put their own health first. “I just know that’s my goal, part of my own journey, helping people.”
I agree that she just knows what flavors go together, but her ideas are refreshing at the same time. I’ve never seen anything quite like his brilliant red pepper pineapple juice before. Some of her recipes are really healthy too; I get irritated with ultra-processed ingredients and chemical additives masquerading as good nutrition, but there’s not much to that effect here. She says the most popular things on her social media are fruit and vegetable juices and sweets, and it’s easy to see why. I look forward to making many of her recipes myself.
Enter the Air Fryer Banana Split, set to be day 14 of a 31-day plant-based challenge, and the lucky recipient of over 3 million views on TikTok since it was posted in January. I know what you’re thinking: hot ice cream doesn’t calculate. Give it a try, though, and you’ll understand where she’s coming from.
There are many air fryer banana recipes online, but most are simply sliced and caramelized. (Pro tip: Line your air fryer with foil, unless you like rubbing burnt sugar.) Baked bananas might seem weird at first glance, but maybe you’ve had Banana Foster before, and bananacue (a portmanteau of bananas and barbecue) has been a staple of Filipino street food for decades. This banana split recipe is different, however.
First, Jones cuts a slit in an unpeeled banana, but not like other air-fried banana recipes do; she lays it on its side and cuts a slit in the side up, leaving the bottom side of the skin untouched like a hot dog bun. She opens it up a bit, fills it with natural peanut butter, dark chocolate halves and walnuts and fry at 400 F for five to six minutes. Then she tops it with cinnamon and plant-based yogurt (she suggests Cocojune Coconut Yogurt). She says her reaction on TikTok is real, her first taste of her own new recipe, and I think I made the same face when I tried it myself.
Let’s fry, and I’ll show you!
I suggest using a very ripe banana with a few brown dots. We have nut allergies in the house, so I made mine with no sugar added sunflower butter, dark chocolate chips, and pumpkin seeds, but the peanut butter and nuts that Jones used, or any nut with almonds, pumpkin seeds, or even chickpea butter would work well.
Start preheating your fryer while preparing the banana. Wedging both sides with a spoon makes it easier to stuff the fillings in. All you will need is about a tablespoon of each.
I watched it after five minutes, and since the pumpkin seeds weren’t burning, I decided to go for the extra minute for caramelization reasons. The banana softens a lot in that last minute, so stop at 4 or 5 minutes if you like it less.
For topping, I happened to have Chobani Greek Yogurt Coffee on hand. I also tried one with a little strawberry jam to accentuate the banana split effect.
The verdict? Gorgeous.
It’s hot, yes, but the cold yogurt contributes to the feeling of a frozen treat. With all the toppings, creamy textures, sweetness, and temperature contrasts, it’s kind of the opposite of a hot fudge banana split. Much will depend on the nut butter and yogurt you use, but generally this recipe is under 350 calories. The banana split of an average glacier has at least 800.
Some of the people I shared it with weren’t crazy about the color change the skin goes through in the first minute of heating (I’m not naming any names, but his initials are “my husband”), but I think it is striking and beautiful, like Forbidden Rice or Moon Drop Grapes. However, people who hate overripe bananas may understandably find the color off-putting. If you prefer, it’s entirely possible to separate the skin from the banana a little before and after cooking, then you can remove it from the skin and put it on the plate with your spoon before topping it with yogurt.
Jones says the reaction has been almost universally positive, but her Day 13 Air Fried Orange has even more love, with 6.7 million views. His own favorite is his “heaven on a plate” air fried pineapple. If you’re considering adding plant-based meals and snacks to your repertoire, Jones encourages you to start with recipes that use your favorite ingredients and then make changes gradually. “It might take six months, it might take three years,” she said, “but it doesn’t matter as long as you try. Everyone has their own journey.”
Next for me are her healthy ice cream sandwiches and pasta chips (a trend covered TODAY last summer). As for what’s next for Jones, it doesn’t do anything small, so hang in there. She has a skincare business with a self-developed coffee oil treatment, and more in the works, like a body scrub. There’s a new wellness blog. She has cookbooks available for download (a series of four seasonal editions called “So Easy & So Good”) and a YouTube channel. And of course, you can always find her quick and easy plant-based recipes on her TikTok.
My own prediction? She loves Ceylon cinnamon and has an adorable way of saying it. I’m planning a Jen Jones Ceylon CIN-na-MEIN! sprinkle, healthy and all natural of course, with a stylish label and a suggestion to put it on literally everything.
A smart spice company better grab it. I think she could go places.