B is for bananas

bananasBananas are one of the world’s most widely consumed fruits. They come in their own convenient packaging, which makes them ideal for a healthy snack or lunch on the go (watch tennis players like Andy Murray consuming them between sets during Wimbledon!). And what could be easier than slicing a banana into cereal, porridge or yoghurt at breakfast? I have never liked over-ripe bananas (or even ripe) bananas because of the mushy texture. It turns out that the slightly under-ripe banana with a yellow tinge to its skin actually has more health benefits because its resistant starch (see below) has not yet turned into sugar, writes Dr Susan Aldridge, guest blogger,freelance writer and editor based in London, with an interest in medicine, health, science and food/nutrition.
Bananas are a healthy food because:

• They are high in resistant starch, which lowers blood sugar and ‘feeds’ the healthy bacteria in the colon, boosting the immune system and possibly preventing against cancer.
• They are high in potassium, with a single banana providing around 10% of your recommended daily intake. A diet rich in potassium lowers blood pressure and protects cardiovascular health.
• They provide around 25% of your recommended vitamin B6 intake, making for a healthy brain and nervous system.

Banana spinach smoothie

Bananas (or avocadoes) are the key to getting a smooth texture and taste balance in a Nutriblast (if you use a Nutribullet – or smoothie if you have another machine). This recipe makes a frothy green drink, packed with nutrients and with a nice touch of sweetness.
Serves one

Big handful of washed spinach leaves
Around 400ml hemp milk (or substitute almond milk)
One banana, sliced
Tsp mixed chia seeds/flax seeds
Tsp supergreens powder
Blast all the ingredients till smooth. Drink immediately.

Fruity curry

The secret here, I think, is to add the banana right at the end, otherwise it goes mushy. I think peas, spinach and lentils go well with banana in a curry but, obviously, you might want to experiment with other ingredients.
Serves two

One red onion, chopped
One inch piece of ginger, grated
Tbsp curry paste
Tbsp cinnamon
Tbsp turmeric
Two handfuls baby spinach leaves
100g red lentils
400ml coconut milk
400g tinned tomatoes
100g frozen peas
1-2 sliced bananas

Fry the onion and ginger with the spices in coconut oil until soft. Add the curry paste, lentils and stir. Then add the tomatoes and coconut milk and simmer till the lentils are soft. Add the peas and spinach and cook for a further 5 minutes. Then add the sliced bananas and heat through.

Banana flapjacks

I’ve long been trying to recreate a healthier version of the classic flapjack – replacing the butter, syrup and sugar. In the banana flapjack recipe, I keep the butter and syrup but substitute the sugar with bananas and coconut blossom nectar (a totally new ingredient to me – I used the Tiana brand which I found alongside the coconut oil we use for cooking). I reckoned the coconut flavour would go well with banana.

Makes 12 pieces

40g butter
60g coconut blossom nectar
1tbps golden syrup
225g oats
50g dried cranberries
2 bananas, chopped and mashed
Tbsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Melt the butter, coconut nectar and syrup. Tip the mixture into a bowl and add other ingredients. Mix well. Grease a shallow baking tray and transfer the flapjack mixture. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until brown. Allow to cool and then cut into pieces.

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