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Go bananas! Popular Asian ‘herb’ a healthy addition to recipes


These days, one of the most popular fruits in the bowl is the banana. But, this wasn’t always the case. It took until after World War I and iceboxes for this to happen.

This herb (yes, botanically it is an herb) originated in Southeast Asia, probably southern India or Sri Lanka.

A local myth proclaims that “the fruit of knowledge” from the

Garden of Eden was a banana — not an apple.

Thus, after they were naughty, Adam and Eve covered their naked bodies not with fig leaves but with banana leaves.

For thousands of years bananas were known only to the people of India and its neighbors. It eventually crept into Africa.

It took until the early 1400s AD, when Portuguese sailors found it there and brought it to the Canary Islands. From there the banana made it’s way to the New World and eventually into cereal bowls and banana splits.

Buy them ripe and keep them in the fridge. The skin will turn black, but the fruit itself will be just fine. Or, if they are not quite ripe, put them in a brown paper bag at room temperature until they ripen.

This sweet delicious fruit is also very good for you. They are one of the best natural sources of potassium, which lowers risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes.

Old What’s His Name loves bananas and has been trying to convince me to wear banana leaves as a bathing suit.

Brazilian Banana
Rum Raisin Cake

Servings: 16

Preparation time: 1 hour

2 large bananas, mashed

1/4 cup 2 percent low-fat (or regular) milk

1 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup no-trans-fat butter spread, butter or margarine, softened

3/4 cup liquid egg substitute or 3 large eggs, beaten

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon allspice

3/4 cup rum

1 cup chopped walnuts, optional

1 cup raisins

Pan spray

Tiramisu glaze

1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

1 teaspoon hot water

1/4 cup Neufchatel cheese (low-fat cream cheese)

3 tablespoons no-trans-fat butter spread, butter or margarine

1/3 cup sifted powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon rum extract

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a bundt pan or 5 mini loaf pans with pan spray and set aside. Mash the bananas and measure out 1 cup. Mix with the milk. In another bowl, cream sugar and butter or margarine until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs or egg substitute until blended. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and allspice. Beat 1/3 cup of the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until blended. Beat in 1/2 of the banana. Repeat, ending with flour mixture. Beat in the rum and stir in raisins and nuts. Pour into prepared pan(s).

Bake for 50 minutes or until toothpick (or piece of dry spaghetti) inserted, comes out clean. Just with powdered sugar or frost with Tiramisu glaze.

Glaze:

Mix instant coffee with hot water; set aside to cool. In a small, deep bowl, beat Neufchatel cheese with no-trans-fat buttery spread (butter or margarine) until light. Add coffee mixture. Gradually beat in powdered sugar and beat until very fluffy. Spread on cake. Makes about 1 cup of glaze.

Top cake with additional walnuts, if desired.

Notes: Cake can be made 2 days ahead and refrigerated; or can be frozen for several months (without frosting). Frosting can be made ahead up to a week. It can also be frozen.

For a more “adult “ version, pierce unfrosted cake with a fork on top and sides; drizzle a 1/4 cup (or more) of rum into cake. Then frost.

Per serving: 361 calories; 15g fat; 48g carbohydrates; 264mg sodium.

Banana Crisp

Servings: 2

Preparation time: 5 minutes

1 tablespoon orange juice

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 banana, sliced

2 tablespoons quick-cooking oats

6 teaspoons brown sugar, packed

Dash cinnamon

2 tablespoons no-trans-fat buttery spread

1 cup low-fat vanilla ice cream

2 tablespoons chocolate syrup, for toping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (350 convection). Mix together the juices. Place the banana slices in a small baking dish and sprinkle evenly with the juice and sugar. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients until crumbly. Top bananas with crumbs. Bake for 15 minutes. Serve with a scoop of ice cream or frozen yogurt drizzled with chocolate sauce, if desired.

Per serving): 371 calories; 13g fat; 64g carbohydrates: 167 mg sodium