Last week when I walked into the kitchen at Feed Your Vitality, there were boxes and boxes of donated bananas. Not wanting any precious fruit to be wasted, we gave away as much as we could, and still had boxes to spare. I took a box home with me and my family ate them, froze them, dried them, and made some dessert. If you have bananas at home that are starting to brown, we hope this inspires you!
Research conducted at the University of Innsbruck in Austria suggests that as fruits fully ripen, almost to the point of spoilage, their antioxidant levels actually increase.
Bananas can replenish your stores of potassium, an essential mineral and electrolyte, which helps regulate heart function as well as fluid balance. They also contain vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, and fiber.
Freezing is a great way to save bananas for later use. Once frozen, they can be baked, made into smoothies, dipped into chocolate, or eaten as is for a healthy treat. Start by laying peeled bananas on a baking sheet in the freezer. This helps them to firm up and maintain shape. If you place peeled, unfrozen bananas in a bag, they are more likely to stick together. After your bananas are frozen solid, remove them from the tray and place them into large zip lock bags. Pre-freezing allows you to use just what you need without having to thaw the whole bag, (or attempt to break off each individual banana, which can be quite difficult).
Drying bananas into banana chips is an easy way to render your own candy. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven is warming, lay parchment paper down onto a baking sheet. Take a banana and slice it into uniform pieces about 1/8 thick. Having a slicer or food processor is ideal, so that each identical piece bakes at the same time. If you don’t have a slicer, just slice them as evenly as possible.
Our results: After an hour, some of the smaller bananas were ready to peel off the parchment paper. I kept checking on them every 15 minutes and pulling them off when done. I knew they were done when they seemed chewy and looked brown around the edges. If you want them crispy, it will take even longer. Some of the thicker slices took as long as two hours, so it might be wise to plan accordingly, and save this project for a rainy day. You could also use a dehydrator if you happen to have one.
Baking is also a great way to use up ripe bananas. The banana walnut muffins I made turned out great, despite it being my first attempt at a paleo muffin. (So try not to be intimidated!) Since they turned out well, I’d like to share the recipe.
Banana Walnut Muffins:
- 4 bananas (2.5 cups mashed)
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup almond butter
- 4 tablespoons butter (coconut oil would work as well)
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup of coconut flour
- walnuts for the top
Mix the wet ingredients and then add the dry. Cook at 350 in a greased muffin tray for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- Cranberry Orange – Only use 3 tablespoons of butter. Add zest of one whole orange diced, juice of one whole orange, and1 cup dried cranberries or fresh if you want
- Chocolate Blueberry – Add 1 cup of fresh blueberries and 1/2 cup of cocoa powder
- Pumpkin Pecan – Reduce the almond butter to 1/4 cup and add 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree and 1 cup of roughly chopped pecan pieces.
- Keep the recipe the same but add dried fruit, nuts, or chocolate.