Who doesn’t love bananas? Well, I do actually know someone who doesn’t like bananas but she’s the exception to the rule. Bananas are a kid’s favorite fruit. They’re a happy color, they’re fun to peel and eat and they are delicious. Bananas, both ripe and unripe, are healthy, providing us with potassium, magnesium, and B vitamins. They have been found to help with many health issues including digestion, depression, diabetes, muscle cramps, and PMS. Bananas are also extremely versatile. Sure, they are great as is, sliced over a bowl of cereal or put into a peanut butter sandwich but you can do so much more with them. They can be used in both sweet and savory recipes and they can be a vegan substitution for eggs and dairy.
Let’s explore this favorite, familiar fruit. You’ll go bananas for these sweet and savory recipes!
1. Did You Know?
Bananas do not grow on trees. They actually grow on the world’s largest herbaceous plants and are related to orchids, palms, and lilies. Technically, bananas are berries and grow from bulbs. Bananas come in lots of different colors including pink and green-and-white striped peels and orange pulp. A cluster of bananas is called a “hand” while a single banana is called a “finger.” In fact, the word banana comes from the Arabic word “banan” which means “finger.”
Bananas are extremely popular! The average American eats 27 pounds of bananas annually, 51 percent of them for breakfast. More songs have been written about bananas than any other fruit. If you are really into bananas, there are two museums dedicated to them: the Washington Banana Museum in Auburn, Washington and The Banana Club Museum in Mecca, California. Wow! That’s a lot of bananas!
2. Dairy and Egg Replacement
Bananas are thick and creamy and make excellent replacements for dairy and eggs. You can use bananas in any recipe that calls for sour cream, buttermilk, yogurt, cream cheese, and even butter. To learn more, read this informative article How to Use Bananas to Replace Common Dairy Foods which also has lots of recipes like these Rich, Decadent Vegan Banana-Pecan Upside Down Cakes and this Vegan Chocolate Banana Cream Pie.
In baking, bananas can replace eggs for binding purposes because they contain a lot of pectin. To replace one egg, use ¼ cup of mashed bananas. Keep in mind that the fruit will add flavor to your recipe. You may also have to increase the amount of baking powder to make up for the heaviness of the fruit. Try it in these Double Chocolate Berry Good Cookies and this Chocolate Banana Coconut Cheesecake.
If you’re a smoothie lover, you probably have a freezer filled with bananas. It’s easy to make a rich, creamy smoothie by throwing a frozen banana into the blender. Plus, banana goes well with just about any other flavor including fruits, chocolate and peanut butter. Need I say more? Yes, I need to tell you about some amazing banana smoothies you should try. Drink a bowl of fruit with this Green Strawberry Basil Banana Smoothie, Organic Burst Smoothies, and Cacao Nibs Cherry Smoothie. Get decadent with this Lucuma, Banana and Chocolate Sundae Smoothie, Peanut Milk, Cocoa and Banana Smoothie, and this Banana Bread Smoothie with Pecans, Nutmeg and Carob Syrup.
As mentioned, over half of all bananas eaten are consumed at breakfast. It’s no surprise – bananas are a great way to start the day with energy. Add sliced banana to your morning cereal or oatmeal like this Banana Oatmeal with Hazelnut Butter, Raisins and Baobab Powder. Bananas help make up the batter in this Banana French Toast and these Vegan Bananaberry Pancakes. Crepes are also a breakfast favorite. Try these Protein Packed Hemp Breakfast Crepes and these Apple Banana Breakfast Tortillas. Would you rather eat raw? Check out these 10 Raw Breakfast Recipes You Can Make with Bananas.
5. Breads and Muffins
My favorite kinds of muffins and breads are the ones with bananas in them. Add some other fruits, nuts and maybe some chocolate chips or peanut butter (or both!) and you have a healthy and delicious dish that’s perfect for breakfast, lunch or a snack. Try this Healthy Banana Bread which has no refined sugar or added oil. Add other fruits like in this Banana and Blueberry Brunch Bread and this Spelt, Mango and Coconut Banana Bread. I promised you chocolate so how about a banana bread with ganache poured all over it? I thought you might like this Chocolate Banana Bread.
Muffins are not just for breakfast. They’re a great take-along snack that will give you the fuel you need to get through your day. Make these Banana Muffins with Cinnamon and Walnut Topping, Sunflower Banana Muffins, Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins and my personal favorite, Banana Peanut Butter Breakfast Muffins.
Bananas are the perfect snack. They’re easy to carry, not messy and they will keep you fueled throughout the day. They have lots of complex carbs and natural sugar so they make a great pre- and post-workout snack like this Perfect Whole Grain Protein Bowl for Your Post-Workout Appetite. Put bananas into your energy bars, granola bars, and trail mix. Try these Banana Granola Bars, Raw Banana Bread Energy Bars, and add them to your Superfood-Packed Trail Mix. Dehydrated banana slices make yummy, crunchy snacks. Learn How to Make Healthy, Dehydrated Fruit so you can make your own. Another raw banana snack are these Raw Vegan Banana Hemp Seed Sushi Slices. For a fun and different snack, make these Banana-Strawberry ‘Dillas which are dessert quesadillas you’ll love.
Bananas are a great way to add natural sweetness and creaminess to your desserts. They work in the batter, they work in the frosting and you can even decorate your desserts with them. Have your cake and eat it too when you make this Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting, Iced Banana Pecan Cake, and this Healthy Banana-Walnut Bundt Cake. Rather have pie? Than make this Raw Chocolate Banana Pie with Whipped Coconut Cream, Frozen Banana Bourbon Pie, and Banana Toffee Pie. Desserts don’t have to just be cakes and pies. Step out of the box and make something unique like these Raw Chocolate Tacos, Black and White Mousse, and these Bananas Foster Smoothies. Don’t forget your furbabies. They’ll love these Heart-Shaped Linzer Dog Biscuits and these Vegan Pup Training Treats.
8. Ice Cream
Ice cream gets its own category because there are so many ways to take bananas and turn them into everyone’s favorite dessert. In fact, all you have to do is take frozen bananas and blend them into a delicious frozen dessert. But why stop there? Make this Easy Banana-Cacao Ice Cream, Creamy Vegan Banana, PB and Chocolate Ice Cream and this Decadent Caramel Chocolate Banana Ice Cream. Then take it further and make you-won’t-believe-your-eyes ice cream cakes like this Blueberry Strawberry Banana Ice Cream Cake, Mindblowing Banana Chocolate Caramel Vegan Ice Cream Cake, Raw Banana Strawberry Ice Cream Cake and this Deep Dish Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream Cake. Other banana ice cream desserts include this Banana Split Cheesecake Parfait and this Dark Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Banana Blizzard.
Most people think of sweet recipes when it comes to bananas but they also work well in savory recipes. Bananas have a mild sweetness that can balance other tastes such as spicy, salty and tangy. Think about adding banana to chutneys, relishes and salsas as you would other fruits like this Tremendous Papaya Salsa or this Clementine and Cranberry Chutney. Since bananas go so well with peanuts and peanut butter, it makes sense that bananas would work in many Thai dishes. Try adding some mashed banana into these Cold Rice Noodles with Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce in place of a portion of the coconut milk. Curries often have some type of fruit in them such as mango. The sweetness of the fruit or even a sweet veggie like butternut squash balances the spice of the curry. Banana pairs well with curry so the next time you make a curry with tofu or veggies, try adding some banana.
To make Banana Curry: heat 2 Tbs. coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in 1 large diced onion and cook until the onions have softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Add 2 minced garlic cloves and 1-inch piece of grated ginger. Sprinkle in 2 Tbs. curry powder, 1 Tbs. brown sugar, 2 tsp. ground cumin, 2 tsp. ground coriander, 1 tsp. ground turmeric, 1 tsp. dry mustard, 1 tsp. kosher salt, ½ tsp. ground cinnamon, and ¼ tsp. black pepper. Cook and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 3 Tbs. curry paste and 1 cup coconut milk. Add in 2 large bananas cut into pieces. Stir to combine everything and bring the sauce to a simmer. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the sauce thickens. Remove from the heat and add the zest and juice of one lime. Add cooked tofu or tempeh cubes to the sauce. Add more banana slices and fresh chopped cilantro for garnish.
What’s the difference between bananas and plantains? Not much. They are both bananas but one the former can be eaten raw and are known as “dessert bananas” while the latter is usually cooked. Plantains are larger, angular, starchier and lower in sugar than dessert bananas. They are green when they are ripe and may turn yellow or black when overripe. Plantains are used more like vegetables than fruits and are common in savory Latin, Caribbean, and African dishes. When I was a kid, eating fried plantains was as common as eating potato chips. To indulge in this snack, make these Chili Coated Plantain Crisps With Lime Ketchup. Other savory plantain dishes include this Sofrito Zucchini Pasta with Beans and Lightly Fried Plantains, Plantain Dumpling Soup and Beans and Plantain Ravioli. Plantains can also be used in desserts like this Coconut Plantain “Rice” Pudding and these Cacao-Coconut Plantain Rice Energy Balls With Pepitas.
I bet that’s more ways to use bananas than you ever thought of. Inexpensive, portable, healthy, versatile, and delicious – bananas sound like the perfect fruit. It’s no wonder they ap-peal to almost everyone (sorry, I had to do it).
Lead Image Photo: Frozen Banana Bites