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Chocolate Banana Icy-poles
Bananas were first found in South East Asia, particularly in Malaysia and India and were taken back to Europe by Alexander the Great.
The plant is not really a tree as it has a stem rather than a trunk, so it is usually referred to as a plant. The word, "Banana" is used for both the plant and the fruit. The name comes from the Arabic word, "Banan," which means "finger." The banana plant is perennial; after it has fruited the stem dies down and a new sucker or stalk grows up from the same root-base or corm. The stem of flowers that produce the fruit is known as a "bunch" and the bunch is made up of groups of 10 - 20 bananas and each of these groups is known as a "hand." There are over 500 varieties of banana, ranging from the dainty "Lady fingers" to the several feet long cooking bananas I've seen and eaten more as a vegetable than a fruit in Papua New Guinea. Incidentally, part of the young bunch is used quite effectively by some of the ladies there to dye their hair.
Although the banana is a tropical plant it will often grow quite happily in temperate conditions; miniature versions can be grown indoors and bananas are even grown in Iceland where the soil is heated by local geysers. They do not like wet 'feet' but do like to be watered and fed well.
Bananas are harvested green as they keep ripening after being picked and actually ripen best after they have been picked. This is useful for transporting the fruit to distant markets where they are often artificially ripened before sale. When bananas are ripe, the starch content changes to a variety of sugars and this helps them to taste sweet.
Bananas, both the fruit and the plant are utilized in industry for the production of fibre which is used in the manufacture of both paper and textiles.
Nutrition and Health Benefits of Bananas
A medium-sized banana has about 100 calories, so it would take four bananas to equal a small packet of chips, but the bananas would be much more filling and, of course, a much healthier option. Bananas are also rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals.
- Fibre: This helps improve digestion, aids good bowel function and relieves constipation.
- Potassium: This mineral has great benefit and the high concentration of potassium in bananas can help restore electrolytes after a bout of diarrhoea; it also helps to build muscles and stimulate nerve impulses for muscle contraction.
- Vitamins: There are several vitamins in bananas, including B6 which assists in the absorption of iron, increasing the haemoglobin content of the blood and so reducing anaemia.Vitamin C is especially helpful in building the body's defence against infection and even in healing from infection.
- Amino Acid: The amino acid in bananas converts to serotonin and helps to improve moodiness and reduce depression; it helps to reduce high blood pressure, the risk of hypertension and stroke.
- Antioxidants: The antioxidants in bananas can reduce the ability of LDL cholesterol to form plaque that leads to heart disease, they protect nerve cells, help to protect the brain from Alzheimer's Disease and may also reduce the chance of kidney cancer.
- Carbohydrates: The sugars, such as sucrose, fructose and glucose, in ripe bananas can provide a good boost of energy. This latter health benefit is useful to athletes. People involved in sport will snack on bananas before exertion, during breaks and after physical activity for quick recovery. Bananas can also help with memory and clear thinking.
Easy Banana Recipe
Bananas are nutritious, healthy, non-fattening fruit and the recipe below is simple enough for children to make. It's also useful, as in the summer bananas ripen quickly, and if some are beginning to go a soft this is a great way of using them. Remember that when they are soft they are healthiest!
Illustration Two: Note that I had some 'helpers,' so the bananas were coated in the melted chocolate before they were cut into thirds. The result was messy; cut them first before coating with chocolate and before freezing them.
Illustration Three: Note the result of cutting the bananas after the coating.
- The cut edges of the bananas are not coated in chocolate.
- The chocolate freezes as it contacts the frozen banana and cracks when being cut. This is a lesson in "How Not to Do It!" The best way is to follow the the recipe. Using icy-pole sticks is helpful in holding the bananas.
Moral: Be organized before the children decide to help!
Rate this Very Simple Recipe
- 6 bananas, ripe
- 250 g Cooking chocolate
- Peel the bananas, cut into thirds. Insert icy-pole sticks if desired. Place on baking paper in the freezer.
- When the bananas are frozen, break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl.
- Melt the chocolate, either in the top section of a saucepan, or in the microwave oven. If using the microwave, melt for about 40 seconds, stir, then melt further. Repeat process until chocolate is quite runny, but do not boil.
- Cover frozen banana pieces with liquid chocolate, replace on the paper and return to freezer.
- Serve frozen - simple and delicious.