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Friday, July 10, 2015
Love bananas, but feel there is not enough time to eat them from when they are purchased to when they are overripe? One way to save money is only taking the amount of bananas guaranteed to be consumed in a week's time. There is no rule bananas must be purchased in bunches. I'm constantly putting bananas in the freezer and can only make so many smoothies and loaves of banana bread. Being mid-summer, it's a great time to embrace easy summer treats like popsicles, why not use some of those frozen bananas?
The Lifespan of a Banana & Storage
Thinking back at the initial banana purchase, it's important to keep in mind how long bananas keep. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), bananas should be kept at room temperature until ripe. Currently, no U.S. grade system has been recognized for bananas. Green bananas that are stored between 60 and 70°F will ripen in 5 to 7 days. A ripe banana is a uniform yellow with tiny brown flecks. Interestingly, when the peel of the banana is mainly yellow with a slight tint of green, 80 to 90% of the starch inside the fruit has turned to sugar. Once ripe or completely yellow they can be stored a few additional 3 days in the refrigerator, at this point almost 100% of the starch in the banana has turned to fruit sugar. The outsides of the bananas may turn brown in the cold environment, but the fruit will still taste fresh. Frozen bananas can be kept for 2-3 months. A suggested method for freezing bananas is removing the peel, pureeing the flesh with a small amount of lemon juice to reduce browning, and storing in a freezer safe container or in labeled freezer bags. Bananas do not freeze well sliced, in frozen gelatin, fruit cups, or syrup.
Nutrition & Bananas
Bananas, like most fruit, are considered cholesterol, fat, and sodium free with less than 5 grams per banana.
Potassium: Of all the nutrients, bananas are well known for their potassium. One medium banana contains 422 mg. of potassium, which accounts for 12% of the daily value needed in a day. The potassium in a banana can help control blood pressure and delay the onset of atherosclerosis (arteries hardening). Potassium is a major electrolyte in the body and eating a banana can help prevent muscle cramping,, making it a popular go-to snack for athletes.
Dietary Fiber: A medium banana contains 105 calories and 27 grams carbohydrates, keeping in mind 3.1 grams of the carbohydrates are dietary fiber. The fiber content in one bananas accounts for 12% of the daily need and can help with satiety.
Vitamin C & B6: Although bananas are well known for their potassium, they are an even better source of vitamin C and vitamin B6. By eating one banana, almost one third of the daily need of vitamin B6 is met. Vitamin B6 can improve cognitive function, regulate blood glucose levels, potentially delay the onset of specific cancers by creating antibodies, and assisting in breaking down protein in the body.
Getting the Most Out of Bananas
Bananas are a great portable snack because they come in their own packaging. Below are a few ideas for incorporating more bananas in the diet:
- Make a fruit salad-Creating a salad of grapes, strawberries, and mandarin oranges? Why not cut up a few bananas to throw in.
- Drink up with fruit- Bananas are a favorite in smoothies. Be creative. Use a blender and mix a banana with other assorted fruits or vegetables, fruit juice, or water. Looking for a thicker texture? Try adding in some low fat Greek yogurt!
- Throw it in breakfast food-Top cereal or oatmeal with sliced bananas for an extra kick of nutrients.
- A Healthy Fat Substitute-Instead of using fats or oils, try adding mashed bananas. Add the same amount of mashed bananas as the recipe calls for, for fat or oils. These are best in chocolate desserts as the chocolate masks the banana flavor, but are also an effective substitute in spice cakes, breads, and cookies.
- Bake them-Try a banana pancake, muffin, or banana bread.
- Grill out-Ever thought of a sweet treat right off the grill? Try sprinkling with cinnamon and drizzle a teaspoon of honey on 4 sliced pieces of banana. Let sit for 5 minutes and grill each side about 2 minutes to create a sweet grilled treat!
- Make popsicles-Below is a recipe for easy and nutritious popsicles. An easy,inexpensive, and low-calorie summer treats for kids. Other than recipe below, take any favorite smoothie recipe and create quick refreshing snacks. Another simple popsicle creating method is taking pureed bananas, separating out the puree in ice cube trays, stick popsicle sticks in the tops, and freeze for at least 4 hours. An easy and nutritious summer hit!
Avocado Banana Strawberry Popsicles
Servings: 6 servings or popsicles
1 Avocado, peeled and pitted
1 banana, peeled
1 cup Strawberries (8-10 strawberries-washed and tops removed)
5.3 oz. non-fat vanilla Greek yogurt
Combine avocado, strawberries, yogurt, and banana in a blender or food processor. Combine until smooth. Using a popsicle mold-divide mixture equally between 6 molds leaving ¼ inch headspace on the top. Freeze for at least 4 hours. Tip: For a less creamy popsicle, omit yogurt.
Nutrition Facts (per popsicle): 100 calories, 15mg. sodium, 11 g. total carbohydrates, 3 g. dietary fiber, 3 g. protein
"Florida Food Fare: Bananas." University of Florida. http://sarasota.ifas.ufl.edu/FCS/FlaFoodFare/Bananas.pdf
Bellows, L.& Moore, R. "Potassium and the Diet." Colorado State University Extension.
"Banana Information Sheet." National Food Service Management Institute. USDA. http://nfsmi.org/documentlibraryfiles/PDF/20110822024414.pdf
"Bananas."National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 27. USDA.