Originally published in Optimum Wellness, Winter 2018, p. 13
Banana Magic: The sweet, versatile banana transforms into exciting new foods
News flash: Bananas are trendy! They are moving far beyond the fruit bowl to transform a host healthful grocery products. While banana-scented baked goods and treats remain a constant, new beverages, snacks, frozen treats and even gluten-free flours show off the versatility of this beloved staple. Along for the ride are bananas’ luscious sweetness and nutrients like potassium, vitamins B-6 and C, and even some protein and fiber.
The banana magic trend launched in 2016 with Sir Bananas, a banana-flavored dairy milk from Whitewave made with real bananas to please kids and parents alike. Following along are two non-dairy beverages. Banana Wave Dairy Free Bananamilk is based on the traditional African recipe of the creator’s grandmother. Mooala Banana Milk features pureed bananas and roasted sunflower seeds and was developed with no added sugar or nuts by a Texan dealing with lactose intolerance.
The banana’s natural sugars and unique texture make it well suited for dairy- and egg-free frozen desserts, a boon to vegans and allergy sufferers. Fronana (in Kroger already; see link below) is a “banana-based ice cream alternative,” with no added sugars and free of the top eight allergens. Mr. E’s Freeze uses whipped bananas and coconut milk in a line of non-dairy frozen desserts that include Chocolate, Strawberry and Chai Spice flavors. Snow Monkey Superfood Ice Treat is made from bananas, apples, maple syrup, hemp protein powder and sunflower butter. With its fruit foundation, Snow Monkey serves as a refreshing frozen dessert as well as a base for smoothies or breakfast fruit and grain bowls.
Turning a soft banana into a crunchy snack is quite a feat. Barnana makes thin and crispy Banana Brittle with upcycled bananas (those that can’t be sold but are still delicious). The crunchy gluten-free brittle features nutritious oat and almond flours, coconut palm sugar and coconut oil. Banana Joe Chips are thinly sliced, crispy banana chips made with Hom Thong bananas, a heritage variety grown in Thailand. The chips are handmade in five flavors such as Sriracha with Pickled Garlic and Thai Sweet Chili.
On the horizon, look for gluten-free and high-fiber baked goods and baking mixes made from green banana flour, an ingredient low in sugar and banana flavor yet high in resistant starch, a prebiotic fiber that feeds good bacteria in our gut. Zuvii is one brand offering this non-grain flour geared to gluten-free and paleo eaters.