Spotlight on Bananas

Have you ever heard the term “going bananas” as a bit of speech to indicate things are crazy in life?  Lately, I feel like that’s how things are, in a good way, but just trying to accomplish all I want to do in a day. I have to remind myself not ALL things must be done.. this is where lists come in handy… mental or written. Those pesky tasks need to be kept in some sort of organized order or they can make you feel, well, a little bananas 😉

If you haven’t snapped to it yet, bananas are what’s on todays food spotlight.

Random factoid first… did you know this humble fruit, botanically, is actually a berry?

Yeah, I didn’t know that either.

Whatever.

It’s tasty and makes a great pre workout snack in my belly that usually prefers no food before endurance sessions.  Bananas are a great source of carbs, water and sugars to help athletes who are working hard. Eat one before or after for those healthy benefits.

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Nothing like a banana to fuel me pre or post workout 🙂

Oh… and a quick shout out to Constantly Varied Gear for my cool new sports top. Hubby and a lot of my friends often call me a beast in regards to my athletic shenanigans so I couldn’t resist ordering it.

Check them out, Constantly Varied Gear, for cool athletic wear.

Now… those bananas… they make a great snack whenever but lets check out some more facts on them.

Health benefits

Bananas are rich in fiber and potassium. They may also help prevent asthma, high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease when incorporated into a healthy diet.

Potassium is an important mineral as it helps maintain fluid levels in the body and regulates the movement of nutrients and waste products in and out of cells. Potassium also helps muscles to contract and nerve cells to respond. It keeps the heart beating regularly and can reduce the effect of sodium on blood pressure. Potassium may reduce the risk of kidney stones forming as people age. In turn, healthy kidneys make sure that the right amount of potassium is kept in the body. One medium sized banana contains 422 milligrams of potassium.

Bananas are naturally free of fat, cholesterol, and sodium.

Bananas provide a variety of vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin B6 – 0.5 mg
  • Manganese – 0.3 mg
  • Vitamin C – 9 mg
  • Dietary Fiber – 3g
  • Protein – 1 g
  • Magnesium- 34 mg
  • Folate – 25.0 mcg
  • Riboflavin – 0.1 mg
  • Niacin – 0.8 mg
  • Vitamin A – 81 IU
  • Iron 0.3 mg

Fresh bananas are available year-round. Unlike other fruits, the ripening process of bananas does not slow down after they are picked. Bananas should be stored at room temperature.

The warmer the temperature, the faster bananas will ripen. However, to slow ripening, bananas should be refrigerated. The outer peel of the banana will darken but the banana itself will stay intact longer.

To encourage faster ripening, place the banana in a brown paper bag at room temperature.

My Mom used to say bananas just got more ripe, that they didn’t really “go bad”.  I had to part ways with her on that thought watching gnats carry one off….

Not really… but to me there is a point where there is no way I’m eating that banana…. “ripe” or not.

Actually those super over ripened bananas make freaking awesome banana bread. I have one recipe that uses whole wheat flour… it’s actually the only recipe I use for banana bread ’cause it’s just… that… good.

If I don’t forget, I’ll post it in here for you 🙂

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Nothing like a crusty, well used recipe, is there??

I am super selective in how I like my bananas and I think many people are, not just weirdo me.

They have to be this perfect, just right shade of yellow. No green anywhere (gross) and it can’t be heading into a darker yellow ’cause they seem way to sweet to me then and I just really don’t enjoy them like that.

Don’t bananas have a whole lot of sugar?

Bananas are on the sweeter side compared to other fruits.  One large banana has about 120 calories and 17 grams of sugar compared to I cup of strawberries with 53 calories and 8 grams of sugar. However, in the context of watching sugar in your diet, it should be more of the refined sugars you are concerned about ( those found in soft drinks, table sugar, and other refined added sugars)  not natural occurring sugar as found in fruit. When a nutritionist might say to limit sugars in your diet, they mean added refined sugars. Eating a piece of fruit there’s no “added” sugar.

Plus some of the carbs in bananas come in the form of dietary fiber…. 3.5 grabs per large banana…. about 15% of your daily needs.

Green bananas contain a type of carb called resistant starch . (As bananas ripen, the starch turns into sugars, making the banana sweeter.) Because resistant starch isn’t easily digested, it reduces the amount of sugar released into the bloodstream, helping control blood sugar. Research also suggests that resistant starch helps maintain the balance of healthy gut microbes.

Let’s talk more about eating them….

Do you know bananas make great add in’s to baked goods for a rich moist ( cake, brownies whatever) you can substitute half the amount of oil with mashed bananas. So if you needed a cup of oil, you could do half oil and half bananas. This reduces calories and fat but still gives that full flavor.

One fun and tasty way to eat them as a cool frozen treat is to slice them, dip in dark chocolate and freeze. I can’t tell you how delicious they are. I first stumbled across them in the frozen section at store and then wondered why I was paying for something so simple to make 😛

Bananas are also great tossed in homemade smoothies, giving added texture and creaminess along with the health benefits from the banana.

Topping oatmeal, plain yogurt, or peanut butter and toast with banana slices is an excellent way to add nutrition and sweetness without added sugar.

Of course there’s the standard muffins, pie, custard, breads….  yummy….

How about a couple recipes? I thought this peanut butter banana bar looked awesome

 

In summary bananas are not only a tasty, low calorie snack that can be used in a variety of ways, they are loaded with tons of nutrients and minerals that our bodies love.

And of course, I don’t think you can go wrong with it pre or post workout for an energizing snack 🙂

Your turn now… how do you like bananas? Do you use them to cook with or just eat as is? Do you have any recipes you like using them?

 

 

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