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…

BANANA

 

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

 

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
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Picadillo- A Cuban Classic

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Picadillo is a staple in any Cuban cuisine and it is easy to make and it tastes even better the next day. The recipe starts with a sofrito (onion, garlic, pepper and tomato sauce), which is the base of many latin dishes and it is the latin version of a mirepoix (onion, carrot and celery).  If you learn how to make a great sofrito, you will have the base of many dishes at the tip of your finger. I have actually though of bottling mine as I actually think it’s pretty good ; ).

I can make this dish into so may other dishes and make it taste different with a small addition. Simply taking the olives out changes the taste. Some people like to add raisins to the dish, but I am not a fan of that flavor, but if it sounds appealing to you, go for it and let me know what you think.

Another great thing about this dish is that it is not expensive. If you have kids at home, especially a teenage boy with friends, you can make this dish feed them all and it will not break the bank and they will love you for it. Serve it on rice or pasta and with a side or mariquitas (plantain chips) and you will be their new favorite chef.

Adding eggs to the dish is called montado a caballo, which the actual translation is riding on a horse.

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PICADILLO

Ingredients – serves 4-6

  • Ground Beef – 2 pounds of 85/15
  • Vidalia onion – 2 cups, small dice
  • Green pepper – 1 cup, small dice
  • Red pepper – 1 cup, small dice
  • Garlic – 4 cloves, minced
  • Tomato sauce – 8 ounce can
  • Green olives – 3-4 tablespoons, sliced
  • Kosher salt – 2 teaspoons
  • Pepper – 1 teaspoon
  • Onion powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Garlic powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Cumin – 1 teaspoon
  • Smoked paprika – 1 teaspoon (you can use regular paprika also)
  • Turmeric – 1 teaspoon
  • Bay leaves – 2 large and whole
  • Olive oil – 3 tablespoons

How to make it…

  1. In a large Dutch oven on medium-high heat, add the onion, green pepper, and red pepper and cook for about 3-4 minutes
  2. Add the garlic and cook for another minute
  3. Add the meat mix well with the veggies and cook until almost completely browned (about 5-6 minutes, stirring and making sure that the meat is broken out)
  4. Add the tomato sauce, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, smoked paprika, and turmeric and stir until everything is mixed into the meat
  5. Add the bay leaves, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes
  6. Add the olives and a little of the juice (optional) and continue to simmer covered for another 10 minutes

Tips:

  • Serve with rice
  • Serve with two fried eggs (pictured above)
  • Serve the next day as a taco
  • Buy my cookbook for additional recipes you can make with this one dish! Buy Cookbook Here