High in potassium, one of the cheapest produce items around, and available at virtually any grocery store in North America, bananas boast a huge presence in the menu plans of most moms. For those trying to purchase predominantly organic groceries, bananas offer affordability there as well. So is it any wonder those of us responsible for preparing most of the family food are constantly on the lookout for more banana recipes? But there’s more. Kids dig ‘em, they can be used for anything from dessert to dinner, and are one of several secret weapon foods for going vegan. Ready to explore just what you can do with this cheap food item?
AFFORDABLE AND DELECTABLE BANANA RECIPES FOR COOKS ON A BUDGET
While there are far too many banana recipes to cover in a single article, there are several categories and types of banana recipes that are worth pointing out. I’ll provide examples for most of them, and encourage you to develop variations on your own that you’re welcome to share in link form here in the comment section.
Who doesn’t love the flavor of banana desserts at any time of year? Rich, creamy and workable for anything from a banana split in the summer to a yummy autumn baked good. Here are just a few ideas for banana desserts to get your creative juices flowing.
Classic banana bread.
There’s a sought-after recipe for banana bread in every family, and with good reason. Banana bread is an affordable way to use up over-ripe bananas, makes a great holiday hostess gift or treat for company, and popular with wide variety of dining palettes. This banana bread recipe from Veg Web is worth a try, or you could bug Mom for hers.
Frozen banana treats are perfect for cooling down in the summer.
Whether you are planning on enjoying a banana split topping bar, or freezing the actual bananas themselves to enjoy for dessert, you’re sure to have a hit on your hands. Especially with the kid crowd. One of the simplest and yummiest things we do at our house in the summer is to slice the bananas into little rounds and freeze them separately on a cookie sheet. They are great to enjoy a few at a time and taste just like frozen yogurt.
You can also kick it up a notch by making chocolate-covered frozen bananas with the kids for a summer activity. They’re affordable, easily handled with toddler-level motor skills, and just plain fun. Also, if the dairy and sugar free ice cream idea of frozen bananas appeals to you, you can take the slices I mentioned above and make vegan banana ice cream in your food processor. Perfect for a dinner party where you have a ton of guests with food allergies.
Bananas Foster is an elegant desert that is extremely economical.
A chef friend brought bananas Foster to our attention at a dinner party one night. He whipped up a batch outside on the side burner of our grill, complete with hard-core chef flame and the whole bit. This recipe for bananas foster uses brandy instead of rum, but you get the idea. I love several things about bananas Foster. First, it’s right up there with flan, crème Brule and biscotti on the affordably elegant sweets scale. Second, you can make when the power is out, as long as you keep the ice cream in a cooler. Third, since you can make it when the power is out, it’s perfect for a romantic camping date where you want to plan an impressive menu but don’t want to have to bring along too many ingredients.
If you’re looking for an exceptionally unusual dessert, consider banana wontons.
Wontons are one of my favorite home hacks for gourmet cooking on the cheap and easy. Whether I’m whipping homemade crab rangoons or trying homemade filled wonton ravioli using my stuffing of choice, I’ve always got a few on hand in the freezer. So these banana and Nutella wontons with powdered sugar from Tasty Kitchen caught my eye right away. I love that they are so unique, and that the serving size can be as large or small as you want. If you’re going for just a sweet bite, these would be great to serve with a hot coffee cocktail after dinner.
Banana crème pie has been my husband’s favorite since he was a child.
Whenever I want to make him a comfort food item, banana crème pie is what I whip up. If you happen to have bulk pie crust made in advance, great. Otherwise, a graham cracker crust works just fine and lets you skip the baking part. Fill with the graham crust with sliced bananas and instant banana pudding and top with Cool Whip. It’s really that simple. Perfect for summer when you don’t want to heat up the oven.
Another great idea for extra ripe fruit is to whip up a batch of banana brownies.
They add a ton of moisture and sweetness, and are a great way to reduce the fat content. These chocolate chip banana brownies look decadent, are dairy free, and don’t call for any eggs. That makes them perfect for vegan baking or those times when company is coming and you’re out of nearly everything except pantry ingredients and ripe bananas.
I love banana cake for its casual, rustic elegance and feel-good flavor.
My favorite is banana walnut cake with white frosting. It has as much fun factor as pumpkin whoopie pies in my opinion, and is a great casual banana cake to serve company you’re well acquainted with. If you’d like something a little fancier but don’t want to take too much time to decorate it, this vegan banana bundt cake from the Gluten-Free Goddess is likely your best bet. She even designed it for high-altitude baking. How cool is that? Also, for those who love exploring international cuisines, this Korean sweet rice and banana cake would be a great way to end an Asian-themed dinner party.
Whether you’re sautéing or batter frying, fried bananas are popular in many cuisines around the world, including Caribbean food. They can be seasoned as a savory dinner side, a light afternoon street snack, or sugar sprinkled as a dessert. Here are just a few of my favorite recipe ideas for fried bananas.
Banana fritters make a great snack or dinner party appetizer.
Warm, tasty with a dipping sauce and relatively inexpensive to make, banana fritters are a favorite with many fans of this particular fruit. Experiment with different dunking sauces and add-ins until you find a favorite recipe that your family loves.
If you’re tired of the potato variety, try some banana chips.
I always thought banana chips were just the dehydrated slices you see in trail mix. Wrong. These savory sliced and fried banana chips can be salted and served as a fun alternative to the more common potato chip. Pair them with a tropical cocktail such as this Ting with a Sting drink from the St. Kitts’ Marriott.
Savory fruit and veggie balls make a great party food and can be prepared with bananas.
I’m sure there are a gazillion (official math term) recipes for this sort of thing out there, but I have a hankering for these spicy banana and zucchini balls from Café Nilson. They use zucchini, which is another affordable summer food, and can easily be paired with a number of different sauces, drinks and menu items.
BANANA BREAKFAST RECIPES
Banana breakfast recipes are probably the first thing to come to mind for most people on a quest for fresh and unusual banana recipes to try out on the home front. Sure, you can just cut them up in your oatmeal or eat one plain like you’ve done all your life, but there’s so much more you can do with them. Here are my favorite ways to incorporate a more interesting banana breakfast plan.
If you like oatmeal with bananas, try skipping the morning breakfast dishes in your sink and whipping up a healthy, sugar-free batch of banana breakfast cookies over the weekend. They can be enhanced with any add-ons you prefer like walnuts, raisins, coconut or even shredded carrots. Toss in a little stevia and some flax seeds as an egg replacer to make them even more like the typical cookies you are likely familiar with. These are a great grab-and-go breakfast for school kids and busy professionals, and are perfect for last-minute family road trips.
Bananas make a great addition to a morning breakfast smoothie. Keep it simple and cheap with these protein-packed peanut butter and banana breakfast smoothies, or toss in a handful of spinach and some frozen berries for a breakfast beverage that ranks on the ANDI scale.
Try banana based recipes for your favorite batter breakfasts.
Think banana pancakes, banana French toast or banana crepes for fun morning meals you can serve with syrup and other fun toppings. You can also get quite creative with banana muffins, which come in a variety of forms and have their fat calories greatly reduced by the inclusion of ripe bananas.
SHORT LIST OF SAVORY BANANA RECIPES FOR DINNER
Bananas are for more than just breakfasts, desserts and snacks. They can also be used for a number of savory dinner options. This chicken with banana curry sauce recipe from Food and Wine is an excellent example. Too much work? Try this curried chickpea and banana soup or top off your favorite veggie burger recipe with this spicy banana ketchup. You’ll be able to use bananas creatively without having to learn an entirely new recipe. Those who enjoy doing the breakfast for dinner thing on a regular basis might want to consider this Columbian banana omelet with cayenne pepper as a way to mix things up on the meal scene.
If you’re looking for alternative banana beverages to the traditional breakfast smoothie, then look no further than banana cocktails. This banana daiquiri recipe from Saveur keeps things simple, and Bar None features an interesting banana colada recipe perfect for a tropical summer barbecue get-together. There are many other banana cocktail recipes available online, but these two should get you started. Use them for a beach party or other summer event.
OTHER UNEXPECTED USES FOR BANANAS
You can use bananas as a simple ingredient to create your own homemade baby food.
That’s right. You can easily make baby food with bananas and other fruits. In fact bananas are particularly easy to use since they mash without stress and contain many of the necessary nutritional elements within a single ingredient.
Fat calorie reduction is possible by including bananas in certain recipes.
You can do this by using them instead of eggs in French toast, or by including bananas instead of butter or oil in many baked goods. It may not be an across-the-board answer, but it is certainly a solution you can incorporate on at least a semi-regular basis.
I think it’s pretty clear at this point that banana recipes aren’t just for breakfast and dessert anymore. This fruit can be used for sit-down evening meals, vegan baking and even appetizer preparation. So get out your apron today and start experimenting with some fresh banana recipes. You’ll have more potassium and fiber in your diet, and be armed with more strategies for saving money on your weekly grocery bill as well.
Photo Credits: Yellow and Green Bananas by Ian Ransley Design & Illustration, Cheap Bananas Sign by Cool Mikeol, Banana Walnut Cake by Bradley P. Johnson, Curry photo by Ben Yapp, Banana Fritters photo by MVI.