Bananas are it. Morning, noon, night, doesn’t matter. We love this phallically delicious fruit at any time of day—ripe or not. The fact is, bananas are packed with all the good stuff. They’re rich in nutrients, antioxidants and fibre, and they’re low in fat, too. In our never-ending quest to stay healthy without sacrificing our taste buds, we call ’em little powerhouses of good nutrition. And the best part is that the health benefits of bananas carry through every stage of their lives, from green to fully ripe.
Typically when we think of bananas we think of a lunch-box addition or a quick on-the-go snack, more so than a cooking staple? Here are 5 healthy ways to incorporate bananas into your meals and the health benefits of each.
HOW TO EAT BANANAS AT EVERY STAGE OF RIPENESS
When they’re green…
Fill Up on Mashed Green Bananas
How to Eat: Did you know you can cook green bananas just like you would cook plantains? While they’re not the same fruit, plantains, a variety of banana, are eaten cooked because they’re less sweet. If you can’t find them, just use green bananas! This delicious treat could not be easier to whip up. Simply peel and cut the green bananas or plantains into chunks and boil in a full pot of water for 20-30 minutes or until tender, then mash with a fork until they achieve the consistency of mashed potatoes. Saute garlic and onions in olive oil and add to the plantains along with salt and pepper and any other seasonings you enjoy. You can serve the dish with fish, chicken or meat, sprinkle with bacon bits or eat plain.
Banana Bonus: Green bananas may not be sweet like a ripe banana would be, but they contain most of their fibre in the form of resistant starch that regulates appetite. Resistant starch may even slow stomach emptying, making you feel full longer and thus reducing the urge to eat sooner after a meal.
Satisfy your craving for something salty, crunchy with plantain chips
Bananas and plaintains, green, ripe or in between are very low in calories, about 105 per fruit. So you can get away with frying them in your choice of light, heart-healthy oil. Plantain chips are a great snack or side dish and are also incredibly simple to whip up. Peel the plantain completely and cut off about half an inch on both ends, then thinly slice the rest of the plantain into chips. When the oil is piping hot fry your chips until golden and salt to taste. Voila!
When they’re semi-ripe…
Eat “Maduros” for younger, healthy skin
How to Eat: “Maduro” (pronounced mah-doo-row) means “ripe” in Spanish and it’s what Latin Americans call this tasty plantain dish. You can eat plantains this way once they are very yellow and spotted, or have turned fully black. Simply peel, cut into thick diagonal slices and deep fry until golden brown in heart-healthy oil.
Banana Bonus: Bananas at any stage of ripeness are very rich in Vitamin C, an antioxidant also known as called ascorbic acid. Vitamin C assists in collagen production, which keeps your skin healthy and also blocks free-radical damage which is believed to potentially contribute to the aging process.
When they’re ripe…
Manage blood sugar with a banana smoothie
Banana Bonus: Bananas have shown by studies to possibly regulate blood sugar as they are very moderate in the glycemic index, meaning they don’t cause dangerous spikes to your blood sugar levels. By enjoying a good banana smoothie for breakfast or as an afternoon snack, as opposed to high-sugar options, you’re making sure your diet is balanced throughout the day.
Amp up the flavour!
How to Eat: If simply eating a banana starts to get boring, amp up the flavour with a healthy pairing. Do what you used to do as a kid. Cut up your banana into chunks and add a healthy spoonful of peanut butter, sprinkle with some almonds or cinnamon, or mix with some dark chocolate chunks!
Banana Bonus: You’ll be eating healthy and enjoy snack time more than ever. You’ll feel like a kid again!