By: Ani Manukian, RDN, LD
Bananas consistently hold the top spot in grocery units sold. Beloved by primates and humans alike, bananas are a go-to fruit for good reason. Their peels provide them with protection, making them a durable, convenient option when on the go. Since nature has provided this fruit with its own biodegradable packaging, bananas are a top choice in today’s COVID-19 pandemic.
Bananas are also one of the few foods well-liked by both kids and adults, and they make a sweet addition to almost any snack or meal. A medium banana provides 3 grams of fiber and about 420 milligrams of potassium, a mineral that is essential for hydration and blood pressure regulation. For these and many other reasons, this fruit has undoubtedly earned a spot as a staple on our weekly grocery lists.
A quick peek at social media shows that many people are picking up baking as a pandemic pastime, making everything from sourdough starters to banana bread (lots and lots of banana bread). If you see your bananas start to brown, here’s a handful of ideas for using them that aren’t banana bread.
- Natural sweetener for smoothies. Peel and freeze bananas whole or in chunks in a freezer-safe bag or container. Replace the sugar or honey in your favorite smoothie recipe with banana for a creamy, fiber- and nutrient-rich alternative.
- Banana “nice” cream. Frozen bananas can be more than a great smoothie addition. Blend frozen bananas with your milk of choice and any flavor-boosters until a soft-serve consistency is reached. Check out this recipe round-up for fun variations like mint chip, peanut butter cup, strawberry, chocolate, and more.
- Banana no-bake cookie squares. Take a break from your typical dessert and indulge in these banana cookies!
- The secret ingredient. Missing sugar, oil, or eggs for your next baking endeavor? Bananas can stand in for any of these ingredients. Check out this resource for these substitutions and more.
- Banana pancakes. Mash one ripe banana and combine with two beaten eggs, ¼ cup oats, ½ teaspoon vanilla extract, and a dash of cinnamon. Blend the mixture in a blender or food processor for a smooth batter if desired. Prepare a skillet with your preferred cooking oil and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Top with your typical pancake fixings or mix it up by topping with nut butter or yogurt.
- Baked banana chips. Top yogurt or oatmeal with these crispy banana chips for a sweet alternative to nuts or granola, or dunk them in your favorite yogurt or nut butter.
- Superfood chocolate banana chia pudding. Chia pudding has been popular for quite some time, and this no-sugar-added recipe takes it to the next level with a smooth texture even your pickiest eater will enjoy.
As we visit the grocery store less often, it’s important to have a plan to prevent the foods we love from going to waste. Luckily, bananas can be used at all stages of ripeness. No matter which “banana rescue” option you prefer, you’re making a great choice for your nutrition, your wallet and the environment.