The Banana vs The Plantain

plantainVS BANANA

I probably buy 30-35 bananas a week and I can assure you that all of them are eaten. Not only do I buy them because everyone in my home loves them but for several other reason…nutrients, taste, versatility, they look fantastic as decoration ; ), etc.

I remember when my son was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 10 (2008) and sitting in the hospital speaking with the dietitian going over how I was going to have to adjust our entire lifestyle and eating habits. There were a few foods that she mentioned as staples and banana was one of the first ones. Since then bananas are one of the main items you can always find in my kitchen.

When you think of a banana, you usually think of just peeling and eating, but there are so many other ways to eat it.  The banana is very sweet, but the green plantain is savory.  Not only are these fruits delicious, they also have great health benefits. Lets explore…



Bananas are traditionally eaten raw as they are sweet while plantains are cooked before eaten whether baked or fried. The flavor of plantains, being adapted to cooking, is closer to a potato than a banana. A green and yellow plantain is firm and starchy, and will only start taking on some of the flavor profile of a banana after it becomes ripe or overripe when the exterior skin starts turning black. Frequently, plantains are consumed as chips. And though these chips taste more like potato chips, plantain chips are used with dips, more like tortilla chips.

Bananas are among the most popular fruits on earth.

Native to Southeast Asia, they are now grown in many warmer parts of the world.

There are many types of bananas available, which vary in color, size and shape. The most common type is the yellow banana, which is green when unripe.

Bananas contain a fair amount of fiber, as well as several antioxidants. One medium-sized banana (118 grams) also contains (123):

Medium Banana

  • Potassium: 9% of the RDI.
  • Vitamin B6: 33% of the RDI.
  • Vitamin C: 11% of the RDI.
  • Magnesium: 8% of the RDI.
  • Copper: 10% of the RDI.
  • Manganese: 14% of the RDI.
  • Net carbs: 24 grams.
  • Fiber: 3.1 grams.
  • Protein: 1.3 grams.
  • Fat: 0.4 grams.

Each banana contains only about 105 calories, and consists almost exclusively of water and carbs. Bananas contain very little protein and almost no fat.

The carbs in unripe (green) bananas consist mostly of starch and resistant starch, but as the banana ripens, the starch turns into sugar (glucose, fructose and sucrose).

Recipe ideas for Bananas

  • Banana Bread
  • Banana Pancakes or Waffles
  • Shakes
  • Mashed and mixed with granola and honey
  • Banana Flambe with ice cream




Plantains – although they look a lot like green bananas and are a close relative, plantains are very different. They are starchy, not sweet, and they are used as a vegetable in many recipes, especially in Latin America and Africa. Plantains are sold in the fresh produce section of the supermarket, they usually resemble green bananas; ripe plantains may be black in color. Plantains are longer than bananas and they have thicker skins. They also have natural brown spots and rough areas.

Generally speaking, bananas and plantains were bred to be different because they are used for different . Because plantains often plays a role in the kitchen, it evolved to excel as an ingredient in various dishes. And it shows up in many Cuban dishes, next to rice and black beans. Cubans used fried sweet plantains or tostones (fried green plantains) and rarely eat the plantain raw (sweetness arrives in a plantain when it starts blackening).  It is traditional that rice, beans and fried plantains partner together with the main dish.

Medium Plantain – Green

  • Potassium: 739 mg
  • Vitamin B6: .44 mg
  • Vitamin C: 27 mg
  • Magnesium: 55 mg
  • Carbs: 48 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Fat: 0 g

Recipe ideas for Plantains

  • Tostones
  • Maduros
  • Mariquitas
  • Toston cups stuffed with….anything

Sofrito – The Sauce!


Sofrito is the base of many dishes in Cuban cuisine. The typical ingredients are tomatoes, garlic, onions and peppers. I have a few dishes in my cookbook with this sauce and I usually experiment a little with the different color peppers and the way that I incorporate the tomato. On my last blog, picadillo, you will see that the base for that dish is also a sofrito and I will be publishing a vegetarian dish later with this same base. I wanted to single out the sauce and specifically show you all how to make it, because if you can master this, you can make so many other different dishes. For a Cuban, this sauce is just as important as in the food culture as is the white rice and black beans.

If you make this sauce ahead of time and let all the flavors marry your dish will have a fuller flavor. I will show, on a late blog how to use this same sauce with two different proteins that will help you save time and wow your guests allowing them to think that you slaved in the kitchen. On the last


  • Vidalia onion – 2 cups, small dice
  • Red pepper – 1 cup, small dice
  • Green pepper – 1 cup, small dice
  • Garlic – 4 cloves, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • Tomato sauce – 14 ounce can
  • Olive oil – 3 tablespoons
  • Kosher salt – 1 tablespoon
  • Pepper – ½ tablespoon
  • Cumin – ½ tablespoon
  • Smoked paprika – ½ tablespoon
  • Onion powder – ½ tablespoons
  • Garlic powder – ½ tablespoon
  • Turmeric – ½ tablespoon
  • Bay leaves – 2


  1. In a large pot on medium high heat add the oil, onions, green pepper and red peppers and cook for about 4-5 minutes
  2. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes
  3. Reduce the heat to medium low or low depending on your stove
  4. Add the tomato sauce and stir well
  5. Add the salt, pepper, cumin, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder and turmeric and stir again
  6. Add the bay leaves then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes; if the sauce gets to thick and you want to thin a little, you can add about a teaspoon of water at a time until the consistency is how you like it
  7. Remove from heat and either store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for later use or use immediately

Below is a sample of the Fricassee de Pollo dish in my cook book! Buy Cookbook Here

Fricase de Pollo_2