The banana is technically a berry, and its plant is the largest herbaceous flowering plant in the world. Depending on your location and cuisine, there are a few different types of bananas that have different uses, such as plantains, for example. Plantains are a variety of banana. They have thicker skin than the standard banana we see, and they are typically cooked rather than eaten raw since they are very starchy and not too sweet.
Bananas are like the blank canvas of the fruit world. Because of their forgiving texture, they can be frozen, chopped, mashed, heated, and blended with just about anything. They are also full of important nutrients that we need. Bananas are high in potassium, dietary fiber, and vitamin B-6, and are low in fat with zero cholesterol. They are great sources of natural energy.
When is a banana perfectly ripe?
Depending on who you ask, banana ripeness can be subjective. Typically, when the banana is a bold, bright yellow and is starting to show a few brown spots, it is considered ripe, sweet, and ready to eat. Some people prefer a firmer or less ripe banana, and some others prefer a mushy or overripe banana.
As bananas ripen, they become much more sweet and syrupy. Unripe bananas can have a tart and sometimes piney flavor.
Can you use overripe bananas?
Overripe bananas are perfect for anytime you'd need a cooked banana, such as banana bread, banana cream pie, banana pancakes, or even in your oatmeal. When bananas become overripe, they develop flavors similar to caramel and become extremely moist -- both excellent characteristics for baking!
Overripe bananas have brightening and moisturizing qualities, making them great for hair and skin treatments as well.
To freeze bananas to use for ice cream, you should do so when they are perfectly ripe or just slightly overripe.
Peel the bananas, then chop into 1" pieces and put into an air-tight container or zip-top bag. Too much exposed air will lead to frostbite and an unpleasant taste.
If stored properly, banana chunks can stay in the freezer for up to 4 months.
Banana nutrition facts
For each medium-sized banana:
- Calories: 105
- Total fat: 0.4 g
- Saturated fat: 0.1 g
- Monosaturated fat: 0 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
- Sodium: 1 mg
- Potassium: 422 mg
- Total carbohydrate: 27 g
- Dietary fiber: 3.1 g
- Sugar: 14 g
- Protein: 1.3 g
The following vitamins occur naturally in bananas:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B-6
The benefits of potassium in bananas
Bananas are an excellent source of potassium, which is key in maintaining healthy blood pressure. A high potassium intake is linked to reduced formation of kidney stones, better bone mineral density, and a lower risk of stroke, among many others.
Potassium is an electrolyte, and its function in the body is to maintain a normal balance of fluids, promoting healthy muscle and nerve function. To put it simply, we need potassium to function, but how much do we really need?
How much potassium do we really need?
According to the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, every man and woman over the age of 14 needs 4,700 mg of potassium per day (that's over 11 bananas!). However, this can depend on unique medical needs and conditions. For example, excess potassium in someone with a kidney condition can be dangerous.
Fresh foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish are all excellent sources of potassium.
The benefits of banana ice cream
Bananas are naturally vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free, making them a staple of many diets.
For anybody who is lactose-intolerant but would still love to eat ice cream, making it with frozen bananas is a great solution. Banana ice cream is dairy-free, and the texture resembles soft-serve ice cream. You can put it back in the freezer afterward to achieve the texture of a harder ice cream.
Making banana ice cream is simple and quick. Plus, you can add anything you'd like to make it your own. You can add nut butters, chocolate, fruit, or coffee.
Dairy ice cream vs. banana ice cream
In one cup of vanilla ice cream, there are approximately 140 calories, 14 grams of added sugar, 131 milligrams of potassium, and 4.5 grams of saturated fat.
In one cup of banana ice cream, there are approximately 100 calories, 14 grams of natural sugar, 422 milligrams of potassium, and 0.1 grams of saturated fat.
Even though bananas are considered a high-sugar fruit, it's easy to see which of the above options is healthier.
Simple banana ice cream recipe video
Simple banana ice cream recipe
To our banana ice cream, we added peanut butter for taste, in addition to a couple of toppings. These are not required, but nut butters provide an even more velvety texture to the ice cream.
This makes 1 large serving or 2 small servings.
- 2 bananas, cut into chunks and frozen
- 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter or any nut butter of your choice
- Any toppings (we used dark chocolate syrup, dark chocolate chips, raspberry, and mint)
To make the ice cream:
- Chop the bananas into 1" pieces, and freeze for at least two hours. You can freeze as long as overnight.
- When the bananas are ready, blend them on high with the peanut butter.
- Add any milk of your choice if the mixture is too thick.
- Scoop the mixture out of the blender when it is creamy.
- If you'd like any add-ins, like chocolate chips or granola, fold them into the mixture now.
- It should be a soft-serve consistency. If you want a harder texture, spread the mixture into a freezer-safe container, and freeze for 1 hour.
- When you're ready to eat, top with any toppings you'd like. Enjoy!
Banana ice cream can be a one-ingredient dish. For a sweet and salty twist, add crushed pretzels or salted nuts.
You can also add:
- Shredded coconut
- Condensed milk
- Espresso beans
- Cooked apples