Today’s featured food is medicine item is one that alot of us take for granted, although it is easily found at your supermarket, very cheap, and loaded with lots of potential. If I had to name one fruit that meets the versatility of being sweet, delicious, easily incorporated into dishes, and cost effective, it would be bananas.
Those yellow bunches are full of a “bunch” of nutrients and vitamins for our bodies, namely potassium. Potassium is essential for good cardiovascular and blood pressure health. In fact, a study performed showed that men who ate a potassium rich diet along with adequate fiber intake considerably decreased their chances for a stroke. Yes, that less than 50 cent a pound fruit has amazing benefits to our body, not only for our heart, but for our kidneys, bones, digestion (having trouble at the loot, eat more bananas), stomach, and even our eyes. Last week we talked about yogurt and its probiotic properties, but did you know that bananas have prebiotic properties, meaning that they are the precusor to probiotics being formed? Now imagine combining foods together that have prebiotic/probiotic properties, and the benefit you will experience. I try to keep bananas around the house as my husband deals with high blood pressure problems, and it is an easy fruit for him to reach for when he is on the go to ensure he is doing something good for his body in helping to lower his numbers. Now let me share with you a few ways I like to incorporate bananas in my diet…
1. You know I love a good smoothie, and I use a banana as the base ingredient in all of mine. I like to take ripe bananas, cut them up, freeze them, and then pop them in my blender when I am ready to make a smoothie. The riper bananas are, the sweeter they are, so I end up with a sweet, creamy, luscious tasting smoothie concoction everytime. My favorite combinations are bananas, yogurt, coconut milk, apple juice, pineapple juice, orange juice, pineapple, mango, and berries. You can just about make any specialty flavor you desire out of those, from pina colada to strawberry sunrise. Yum!
2. Cereal. A simple breakfast to me is having a nice bowl of cereal with sliced bananas on top. My favorite is Cascadian Farm’s organic granola cereal, sliced bananas, honey drizzled on top, with a sprinkle of cinnamon, and I am in food heaven! Any bran or wheat cereal will work nicely as well. I like to chill my bananas a little in the fridge and slice cold to help keep my cereal cold.
3. Cooking/baking. From banana nut bread, to muffins, pancakes, and my absolute favorite – banana pudding, bananas reign supreme. I find that when I incorporate bananas into my muffin mixture, it helps me to cut back on the amount of sugar I use. And please try fried plaintains, the sister fruit to bananas, they are so delicious. Plaintains resemble bananas, but are better made for cooking, and is a staple in a lot of Carribean dishes. When picking plaintains, pick ones that are black and over-ripe looking, not too mushy, as they are at their peak of ripeness, and are sweeter tasting. Another way to enjoy bananas is on a peanut butter sandwich, with whole wheat bread, peanut butter/almond butter, and a drizzle of honey. Your kids will think you are giving them dessert 🙂
The next time you are browsing the produce aisle and see stacks of bananas, please do yourself a favor and pick up a bunch. I personally prefer organic bananas because to me they have more of a richer and sweeter banana taste to them, and for a few cents more than conventionally grown bananas are worth the splurge. Even organic bananas can be found at around 99 cent a pound, so that is still an amazing price for such a deliciously beautiful piece of fruit. Matter of fact, when it comes to buying fresh organic produce, you will find that bananas are the most budget friendly item you will find.
Click on the link below and read up on the additional benefits that bananas offer. Once you realize their star potential, you will go “bananas” too!