A few weeks ago, The Hamilton Spectator ran a wire story originally from The Chicago Tribune, called ‘Which Fruit is Nutritionally Best?’. Despite what we’ve always been told, apparently you can compare apples and oranges – and bananas. Using a 100-point scale that gives credit for healthy nutrients in foods and deducts marks for baddies like sodium and saturated fat, it rated these three most popular fruits.
And the winner – drum-roll, please – was the orange. Vitamin C, fiber, anti-oxidants, all that good stuff. Apples came next, and the banana placed third. Mind you, all three got scores over 90, so they’re all good choices. But the poor banana! Loved by babies, runners and heart patients the world over – third place!
I was shocked.
Herewith, a defense of the banana, beyond ‘it’s an excellent source of potassium’:
• they come in their own easy-to-open carrying case. If the ‘handle’ resists, make like a monkey and unzip from the bottom: much easier!
• they don’t go bad, they just get over-ripe. You can then pop them into the freezer as-is, and later make great quick breads, or muffins such as these:
Chocolate Banana Nut Muffins
1 cup milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup mashed banana
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
Combine wet ingredients in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients. Make a well in centre, add liquid mixture, stirring just until combined. Fold in nuts.
Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin tins. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 20 – 25 minutes or until they test done. Makes 12 large muffins.
• they are both a fruit and a vegetable. The vegetable version is plantain, a staple of West Indian cooking, delicious grilled in its skin. The fruit version comes in different varieties. We commonly see the finger-sized mini-banana, and on my travels I have seen, and tasted, the apple banana, which does indeed taste like an apple.
• they inspire creative expression. You can use the banana’s tendency to turn brown as an artistic medium:
Then there’s the slapstick comedy standard, slipping on a banana peel, but also banana jokes: Why did the banana go out with the prune? He couldn’t find a date. What’s yellow and goes bzzzzz? An electric banana. What was Beethoven’s favorite fruit? Ba-na-na-naaah (to the tune of his 5th symphony).
• And speaking of music, let me leave you with this classic, to put a smile – banana-shaped – on your face: