Bananas are a versatile fruit for snacking and baking, it’s combined well with a variety of flavors and offers up natural sweetness in place of sugar in many recipes. High in soluble fiber and resistant starch, it helps add bulk to stool and acts as a prebiotic, or food for healthy gut bacteria to flourish. Moreover, it’s rich in vitamin C, copper and potassium.
However, the fruit isn’t exactly known for its long shelf life. Often lasting less than a week even in a fridge, many feel pressured to throw away, freeze or make banana bread when the peel starts to turn brown.
If you’ve ever frozen a banana with a peel, you might scratch your head at the color result when frozen. A black frozen banana not only doesn’t look visually appealing, but it’s also difficult to peel. To properly freeze a banana, first peel, cut in half, then freeze in a zip lock bag removing as much air as possible. Freezing halves comes in handy for easy portions to avoid having the difficulty of cutting through a frozen banana.
Luckily, using frozen bananas can be used for several recipes beyond smoothies. Here are a healthy few to try:
Four Recipes for Frozen Bananas
- Chai-Spiced Banana Coconut Zucchini Muffins
- Peanut Butter-drizzled Banana Pancakes with Berries
- Chocolate Dipped Banana Bites with Hazelnuts and Strawberries
- Healthy Banana Chocolate and PB Smoothie
Chai-Spiced Banana Coconut Zucchini Muffins
Muffins are a popular and convenient breakfast option for families on the go, but they often come along with a dreaded sugar-rush. Luckily, replacing some of the sugar and adding more fiber can help offer more long-lasting energy and nutrients. Beyond adding shredded coconut and whole wheat flour for fiber, this recipe adds a grated zucchini that adds another nutritional punch.
- 1 1/4 cup flour (whole wheat preferred)
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut, plus more for sprinkling prior to baking
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1 cup mashed frozen banana (from about 2-3 bananas)
- 1 zucchini, finely grated, drained
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 large egg, room temp
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- If using frozen bananas, defrost and remove excess water, then mash.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray muffin tin with canola oil or other desired oil.
- Using a towel, press excess moisture out of grated zucchini
- In a large bowl, whisk wet ingredients (canola oil, maple syrup, vanilla, banana, zucchini and egg).
- In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients, them add to wet ingredients.
- Add batter to the muffin tin to 2/3 fullness. Top by sprinkling coconut flakes.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Peanut Butter-drizzled Banana Pancakes with Berries
This banana pancake recipe packs in more nutrients than the traditional flour-based pancakes. The bananas add a natural sweetness and fiber while oats offer fullness and a slew of vitamins and minerals like iron, B vitamins and manganese. While most pancake toppings aren’t healthy – think maple syrup or whipped cream – this recipe offers flavor without the added sweetness or calories. Mix powdered peanut butter to the desired consistency and gently drizzle over the pancakes. Pair with your favorite berries and voila – a balanced, healthy and delicious breakfast.
- 1 banana
- 1/2 cup old fashioned oats, uncooked
- 1 egg white
- 1 cup milk
- 2 tbsp powdered peanut butter, chocolate-flavored
- 1 cup blackberries and raspberries
- If using frozen banana, first defrost.
- Separate yolk from egg white and save or discard.
- Combine all ingredients in blender.
- Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat and spray with oil.
- Pour 1/3 cup of pancake mixture into pan and let cook or 2-3 minutes or until golden brown, flip and cook for 1 minute on the other side.
- Combine 2 tbsp powdered peanut butter with water to reach the desired consistency, adding 1 tbsp of water at a time.
Chocolate Dipped Banana Bites with Hazelnuts and Strawberries
Sometimes having an after-dinner dessert rounds out the meal. A square of dark chocolate makes for an excellent choice that isn’t overly sweet or rich in calories for the day-to-day. For another excellent post-dinner treat, try out these chocolate dipped banana bites plain, with hazelnuts or freeze-dried strawberries.
- 2 bananas, sliced to ¼ inch thick
- ¼ cup chopped hazelnuts
- ¼ cup chopped freeze-dried strawberries
- ½ cup dark chocolate chips (50-60 percent)
- Heat a cup of water in a saucepan over medium heat. Place a larger bowl with chocolate chips on top and allow for the steam to heat the chocolate slowly.
- Using food tweezers or tongs, dip half of the banana in the melted chocolate, then dip in hazelnuts, freeze-dried strawberries or leave plain. Put on parchment paper until chocolate has solidified, then keep frozen in a freezer safe container.
Healthy Banana Chocolate and PB Smoothie
Frozen bananas keep excellent in the freezer for up to a year. In this recipe, they act as both ice and a sweetener to make a creamy smoothie along with the classic flavor combination of peanut butter and chocolate. Opting for powdered peanut butter cuts down on the calories associated with nut butters without sacrificing the taste.
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 cup milk of choice
- 2 tbsp powdered peanut butter, chocolate-flavored
- 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder or 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Shanthi Appelö is a registered dietitian and health and wellness spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan based in Detroit. Passionate about the science of nutrition and behavior, Shanthi has experience working in clinical nutrition, public health and teaching in the university setting. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, exploring the outdoors, working on art and spending time with family. See more at AHealthierMichigan.org.
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