It’s VeganMoFo time! In addition to reading along here and on Vegan Homemade (ahem), check out the MoFo blogroll and rss feed. I’m back from Vegas but not ready to wrap up my time there yet, so I’m going ahead full force for MoFo. My intention for VeganMoFo here is to highlight foods that I believe should be included in every healthy vegan diet, with nutrition facts, tips and suggested recipes. I’m going to try to post at least every weekday. The foods may be obvious choices (nobody needs to tell you to eat fruits and vegetables), but hopefully I can make these foods interesting and maybe show you some new ideas for using healthy ingredients. This week, I’ll be taking a look at fruits.
First up, bananas. A medium banana has about 100 calories, and of course, as with all fruits, is zero Weight Watchers Points Plus. Bananas are generally more calorie-dense than other fruits, but I also find them to be a little more filling. I eat a banana almost every day, usually for breakfast, a snack, or dessert.
Bananas are an excellent source of potassium and vitamin B6, and a good source of vitamin C, riboflavin, magnesium, biotin, fiber and carbohydrates. Potassium is a mineral which is lost during physical activity, but is important for controlling the body’s fluid balance. Potassium also serves essential bodily functions such as regulating heartbeat and blood pressure, and eating a diet rich in potassium may help reduce the risk of stroke. Bananas have more potassium by weight than almost any other fruit, except avocados. Bananas can be very soothing to the gastrointestinal tract due to their high content of pectin. They have an antacid effect, also protecting against stomach ulcers.
Bananas come in their own packaging, which makes them perfect to grab and go. I take bananas along almost every time I travel. I know some people prefer them before they get ripe, but I like to let them sit on the counter until the skins are speckled brown.
One note about purchasing bananas – If you can, buy organic and fair-trade. Better for the environment and the workers, all around.
image source: Let’s Get Cookin’
One of my favorite ways to use bananas is in Banana Soft Serve, which I first found out about on Choosing Raw. It’s so easy – you freeze one (or two or three) bananas then blend them in a food processor, and there you go! It’s really easy to customize as well. Add cocoa powder, nut butter, vanilla or other add ins to your hearts desire. I also like to freeze non-dairy milk and blend with the banana, for a larger volume treat. (Got that trick from Chocolate Covered Katie.)
If I need a quick post-workout snack, I’ll top a banana with 1 teaspoon to 1 Tablespoon of peanut butter, depending on how many points I can afford.
I eat bananas most often for breakfast. It’s great sliced in cereal, blended up into a smoothie, or on a toasted English muffin with a smear of almond butter. One of my favorite smoothie combos: banana, strawberries, kiwi and orange juice.
A great way to use a banana in a cool summertime breakfast is Vegan Overnight Oats. I use the base recipe from Oh She Glows. The recipe calls for a small banana, but I throw in a whole medium or large one, which increases the size of breakfast and makes it so I don’t need to add any sweetener. It’s not a very pretty dish due to the chia seeds, but it’s really healthy and filling, and tasty too. This breakfast is also great for add ins – fruit, nuts, cocoa powder, pumpkin, spices, ginger and molasses, really anything you want! I usually only eat overnight oats when it’s hot outside, but I’m thinking this winter I may try making them then warming them in the morning for a cold-weather treat.
What is your favorite way to enjoy bananas?
The Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition
The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods