Bananas are one of the most commonly eaten fresh fruits: the average American consumes about 30 pounds of bananas per year! However, if you're like me, the enjoyment that comes from eating a perfectly ripe banana is rare--it seems that as soon as I get them home from the grocery store, they are already turning brown. If Americans are eating that many bananas a year, I don't even want to imagine how many pounds are being thrown away because we've let them go pass their prime.
Never waste a banana again! This fruit is actually pretty darned versatile and can star in everything from banana bread to more adventurous concoctions like banana-corn fritters. (And don't miss these 4 tricks for the best banana bread from the EatingWell Test Kitchen.)
Here are 5 easy recipes that will help you use up those bunches in a hurry.
Banana-Cocoa Soy Smoothie: With plenty of protein from both tofu and soymilk, this banana-split-inspired breakfast smoothie will keep you satisfied until lunchtime.
Frozen Chocolate Covered Bananas: Kids will love dipping bananas in melted chocolate and rolling them in coconut to make this tasty frozen treat.
Banana Corn Fritters: Savory, smoky and slightly sweet, these are great with roast pork loin, a hearty bowl of black bean soup or barbecued chicken legs and coleslaw. Dotted with crème fraîche, they make an exotic appetizer.
Banana Cream Layer Cake: Here we layer delicate banana-buttermilk cake with a fluffy Bavarian-style cream that's made low-fat by combining nonfat milk with a reasonable amount of whipping cream. The rich taste makes it hard to believe that this cake has only 300 calories and 3 grams of saturated fat per slice.
Banana-Nut-Chocolate Chip Quick Bread (pictured above): This banana quick bread is full of chocolate chips and toasted heart-healthy walnuts so you get a taste of nuts and chocolate in each bite. This version reduces the fat substantially and uses nonfat buttermilk to make a banana bread that's extremely moist and tender.
Active time: 25 minutes | Total: 1 1/4 hours (muffins, mini Bundts), 1 1/2 hours (mini loaves), 2 1/4 hours (large loaf), including cooling times | To make ahead: Store, individually wrapped, at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour (see Ingredient Note) or whole-wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup nonfat buttermilk (see Tip)
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups diced bananas
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts (see Tip), plus more for topping if desired
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 400°F for muffins, mini loaves and mini Bundts or 375°F for a large loaf. (See pan options, below.) Coat pan(s) with cooking spray.
2. Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl. Whisk eggs, buttermilk, brown sugar, butter, oil and vanilla in another large bowl until well combined.
3. Make a well in the dry ingredients and stir in the wet ingredients until just combined. Add bananas, walnuts and chocolate chips. Stir just to combine; do not overmix. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan(s). Top with additional walnuts, if desired.
4. Bake until golden brown and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 22 to 25 minutes for muffins or mini Bundts, 35 minutes for mini loaves, 1 hour 10 minutes for a large loaf. Let cool in the pan(s) for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Let muffins and mini Bundts cool for 5 minutes more, mini loaves for 30 minutes, large loaves for 40 minutes.
Makes 12 servings.
Per serving: 273 calories; 11 g fat (3 g sat, 3 g mono); 41 mg cholesterol; 40 g carbohydrate; 7 g protein; 3 g fiber; 184 mg sodium; 178 mg potassium.
1 large loaf (9-by-5-inch pan)
3 mini loaves (6-by-3-inch pan, 2-cup capacity)
6 mini Bundt cakes (6-cup mini Bundt pan, scant 1-cup capacity per cake)
12 muffins (standard 12-cup, 2 1/2-inch muffin pan)
Ingredient note: Whole-wheat pastry flour, lower in protein than regular whole-wheat flour, has less gluten-forming potential, making it a better choice for tender baked goods. You can find it in the natural-foods section of large supermarkets and natural-foods stores. Store in the freezer.
Tips: No buttermilk? You can use buttermilk powder prepared according to package directions. Or make "sour milk": mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup milk.
To toast chopped walnuts, cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 5 minutes.
What is your favorite way to enjoy bananas?
By Wendy Ruopp
Wendy Ruopp has been the managing editor of EatingWell for most of her adult life. Although she writes about food for the Weeknights column of EatingWell Magazine, her husband does the cooking at home.
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