We’re trying to eat more bananas in my house because they are healthy – high in potassium and a good source of fiber too. But at some point, I realized that there has to be more to life with bananas than eating them plain, in banana bread and muffins, or as a topping for cereal.
As I thought about other quick and easy ways to use bananas, I realized that my ideas were all falling into 3 categories: hide them, highlight them, or acknowledge them.
Hide the Banana – Banana Smoothie
Smoothies are easy to make with an immersion or stand blender. Here’s a simple version that you can mix in a minute for a drinkable meal or snack.
- 1 banana
- ½ cup orange or other fruit juice
- 2 ounces of plain yogurt
- ⅓ - ½ cup of cut up melon, strawberries, blueberries, or other fruit
Mix until blended. If you like your smoothies sweeter, add a bit of honey or sugar. (I find that light brown or raw sugar provide a more interesting taste "note" than white sugar in this and other recipes with yogurt.)
Highlight the banana – Peanut Butter and Bananas
Peanut butter and bananas are one of my favorite combinations. If the truth be told, I rarely eat them together without adding chocolate, but that’s a story for another day. As a sandwich or on a graham cracker, it’s a match made in culinary heaven – and not just for kids. If you are more sophisticated (than I am), try almond or cashew butter. And of course, there is always, nutella (a hazelnut and cocoa butter combination), but that spread is so addictive that I hesitate to recommend it to anyone who wants to keep their snack habit under control.
A peanut butter and banana sandwich, especially with whole wheat bread, is a super quick and healthy lunch. With a few raisins thrown in (they stick so conveniently to the peanut butter), it's an almost-guilty pleasure. Plus, if you are brown bagging it, there is nothing easier to pack than a peanut butter (and anything) sandwich.
Acknowledging the Banana – Banana Yogurt Parfait
As a lunch or even a dessert, bananas and yogurt are excellent together. Layered with a few nuts, and perhaps a bit of brown sugar, they become a rather elegant parfait. Beauty may be skin deep, but wouldn’t you rather look at this than a messy bowl of mixed up stuff?
- Bananas are made into beer and wine (in parts of Africa) and dried green plaintains can be ground up and roasted as a coffee substitute.
- Individual bananas are called “fingers” and they grow in “combs” or “hands”, each of which has 10-20 banana fingers.
- Bananas are the most popular fruit in the U.S.
- Best film featuring bananas (though the fruit isn’t exactly the point) – Woody Allen’s 1971 Bananas. If you’re in a more serious mood, and concerned about where our bananas come from, you may want to check out Bananas!* and its 2012 sequel, Big Boys Gone Bananas!*
Cooking (not baking) bananas would be a whole other, unexplored way for me to use bananas. I love plaintains with roast chicken, but have not made them myself, so that’s my next order of banana business.