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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

It's Not a Banana, It's a Plantain

Plantains are a cousin to the banana, but you don't want to make the mistake of peeling a plantain and eating it raw like a banana. Not only will your teeth not sink through it, frankly, it won't taste anything like a banana.

Plantains are grown in tropical regions, including Africa and the Caribbean. It's a staple in most Latin American countries. Plantains may be purchased at various stages of ripeness and at each stage, the plantain will yield a different flavor. When cooked, an unripe green plantain is starchy and used more like a potato, while a ripe plantain that is dark brown or yellow with black spots, will yield more of a sweet flavor. You can find plantains in most large grocery stores or Hispanic markets.

Peeling a plantain is not like peeling a banana, particularly when it's green. You'll need a paring knife to cut off the ends and score the skin, prying it up with your fingers. The most famous and simplest way to eat a plantain is fried. Fry a ripe plantain and the sugars will caramelize creating sweet crispy edges. When green, the unripe plantain can be used for making tostones, which are twice-fried. You don't have to soak the plantain slices in oil to fry it; just a tablespoon or so of oil will do the trick. Of course, to save calories, plantains can also be roasted in a 400-degree oven for 15 minutes. Use plantains in chili or other bean dishes or slice into thin chips. Expand your palate and try plantains at your next meal!

Fried Plantains (Printable PDF)

2 ripe plantains, dark brown or yellow with black spots

2 Tablespoons coconut oil (can substitute with vegetable or olive oil if desired)

Peel plantains carefully by slicing with small knife from one end to the other, trying not to let knife pierce plantain. Slice plantains on an angle, ¼-inch thick. In a large skillet, heat oil. Once oil is hot, place plantains in oil in a layer so that they are not on top of each other; may need to cook in batches. Cook 3-4 minutes; flip over and cook an additional 3-4 minutes. Place cooked plantains on plate covered with paper towels to absorb excess oil.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 113 calories, 5 grams fat, 2 milligrams sodium, 19 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram fiber, 1 gram protein