Bananas are a cheap, nutritious quick fix for hungry hands. This underrated snack provides oodles of vitamins and minerals to keep your body busy.
A banana's stores of vitamin B6 and potassium can help expectant mamas to cope with morning sickness, as well as helping the male population hang on to their hair. Have you ever seen a bald monkey? Exactly.
Our grannies knew what they were talking about when they insisted we munch on bananas before a night out. Not only do bananas destroy harmful bacteria responsible for stomach ulcers, they are also thought to help the lining of the stomach produce a thicker protective barrier against acid. Hangover, anyone?
Are there better types of bananas to buy? Generally they all taste the same, but investigative food writer Joanna Blythman implores us to look for the Fairtrade logo whenever possible. Many banana plantations exploit migrant workers and children, two of the most vulnerable groups in society. The heavy use of agrichemicals over vast swathes of plantations doesn't titillate Mother Nature either. Now that's not the sort of behaviour we want to support. Fairtrade bananas don't cost a whole lot more, but they do help you give back a whole lot more.
Creme de la Ritz
Normally I hate hotel food, but one of the best meals I've had this year was in the Ritz-Carlton. Ludovic Lantier, the excessively talented pastry chef at the Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, made a sugar-free, dairy-free and flour-free carrot cake especially for me. He called it the Vitamin Bang. I expected to shovel it into my napkin and politely applaud. I was never more wrong. The mere memory of it has me weeping.
Sadly, I didn't catch the entire recipe, but managed to hijack this one. You don't have to stay overnight to sample it. The Ritz-Carlton set lunch is spectacular value on a sunny afternoon, overlooking the Wicklow Mountains. Just ask for Ludo's special carrot cake. And an extra napkin for drooling.
You will need:
Juice of 2 carrots, freshly pressed
Pinch of cinnamon
1-2 tablespoons runny honey
Slice of banana or toasted almonds, to serve (optional)
Slice the bananas into discs, and freeze on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. As soon as they are frozen, you can store them in a bag instead of a tray. The trick is to make sure that the slices don't stick together.
As soon as you fancy making the creme, blend the frozen bananas, the freshly pressed carrot juice, the cinnamon and the runny honey together in a food processor, and immediately pour into three glasses. Top with a fresh slice of banana or some toasted almonds, if you are using them. That's all there is to it.
A few further notes. A teaspoon of cinnamon has been shown to help regulate blood-sugar levels in type-two diabetics. This is because it contains a compound that mimics insulin in the bloodstream. What a clever little spice. And if you don't have your own juicer for the recipe, two carrots will work out at just less than half a cup of carrot juice. Coconut milk works equally well. Apple juice does not.