Going Bananas and Eating Them too
“Time flies like as arrow, fruit flies like a banana.” Groucho Marx
Aloha! Due to being in Hawai`i, my last column was absent from the paper. I am back but my head refuses to admit to it. Due to this malfunctioning I will continue to pretend like I am in the islands where I eat papayas, mangoes and the omnipresent banana.
Bananas were birthed in Malaysia where they caught a boat to India somewhere around the 6th century BC. There they were quietly cultivated as an exotic fruit until Alexander the Great had a bite of one around 300 BC. He loved it so much that he decided that this fruit was going home with him and marched it into the western world.
When my children and I first moved to Maui many moons ago, I was struck with how many different types of bananas there are. Over 400 varieties of eating bananas exist. The most popular one that we all know and love is the Cavendish banana, but other types are beginning to show up in our grocery stores. Some of my personal favorites are the red and the apple bananas. (Which appear at Mother Nature’s from time to time)
I remember my son was so blown away with the fact that his favorite fruit really does grow on trees, that he sat under a banana plant and ate so many bananas he was sick. But it didn’t stop him from continuing to eat this fruit that is also the number one preferred fruit of Americans. After all, they really are the perfect food, sweet, fat and sodium free, nutritionally packed and in a natural, convenient package.
The nutritional benefits of bananas could fill an encyclopedia. The most well know asset of the humble banana is its ridiculous amounts of potassium and B6. Potassium is an essential mineral that not only facilitates muscle heath and energy but has been found to be crucial in maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. That’s right bananas are great for your ticker. Bananas also are loaded with that which we all seek, fiber. They also have been long recognized for antacid effects that protect against stomach ulcers and ulcer damage. The list goes on and on. Literally, eat one of there a day to keep the doctor away. My grandma did and she swore it was one of the reasons she lived to be 98 and bright as a tropical sun.
Here is a wonderful banana cake that is low in fat and high in flavor. It took quite a few experiments to finally get the flavor to pop but this one is a keeper. Remember to use as ripe as bananas as possible for this recipe, it makes for a moister cake. Please use as many organic ingredients as possible.
Dreaming of Maui Banana Cake with Lime Coconut Glaze
2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour
¾ teaspoon of baking soda
½ teaspoon of baking powder
½ teaspoon of salt
1 cup of sugar
½ cup of low fat vanilla yogurt
2 large eggs
1 ½ cups of smooshed ripe bananas
3 tablespoons of dark rum (or coconut rum)
Or 1 teaspoon of rum extract
1 teaspoon of a good vanilla
1 teaspoon of coconut extract (optional)
½ cup of unsweetened coconut flakes
½ cup of powdered sugar
1 ½ tablespoons of lime juice
2 tablespoons of chopped macadamia nuts
2 or 3 tablespoons of coconut
Turn on the tropical sun (the oven) to 350 degrees. Whisk the flour, soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl till all mixed up. Combine the yogurt with the sugar and beat with a mixer till well blended. Add the eggs beating as you go. Stir in the bananas, yogurt, rum, vanilla, coconut extract, next. When everything is well blended add the flour mix and combine till just moistened then barely mix in the coconut. Pour batter into either a bread loaf pan or a cake pan, depending on the look you want. Bake the loaf for about one hour or the cake for about 35 minutes, while the palm trees sway. When the house fills with the heavenly scent of banana bread, check with a toothpick to see if it is done. Cool 10 minutes on a cooling rack and place on a deserving platter. Whip up the lime juice with the powdered sugar and drizzle over the warm cake then sprinkle with mac nuts and coconut. Take a bite and do the hula! Ono! (Delicious in Hawaiian)
Nutritional info if divided into 16 servings; (yah right) Calories 193, Fat 4, Fiber 2 grams, sodium 179 mg