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Patch Picks: Bananas for Bananas

A look at the dizzying number of uses and preparations for this versatile fruit, not to forget the tantalizing banana split dessert.

What is one of the most-healthy, versatile, delightful and, at times, amusing fruits?

If you guessed banana—you’re right! At its peak ripeness, the banana is a beautiful bright yellow with a soft yet firm texture inside that has its very unique, delicate, slight-sweet flavor that can be quite comforting and satisfying. 

The tropical fruit originating in West Africa and Asia was introduced here from the 16th to the late 19th century, and is still imported so we can always delight in it any time, any day. We are most familiar with the sweet variety, but there are starchy ones that are used for cooking, such as the plantain banana.

The usefulness of the banana plant adds to its high versatility. The big leaves are used for wrapping ingredients in cooking and are great for providing shade; the flowers are used in certain Pacific-Asian dishes; the oil is used for flavoring and scenting; the fiber is used for textiles and paper; the sap is known to be used for adhesives; and the peel is said to possibly have the ability to extract heavy metal contamination from river water

This quote below describes another, hopefully not too frequent, use for the banana peel.

I want to sit down, and I want to laugh. Nothing works better for me than watching somebody slip on a banana peel. Diane Lane

Although slipping on a banana peel may not be good for your health, eating it is very healthy, as it's loaded with a high level of potassium and many vitamins. Its fiber content has been shown in research, to benefit in many ways, particularly in digestion. For dieters, the banana can make you feel full and not have the calories to go with the fullness.

What is the right way to peel a banana? Some say peel it from the stem which makes a convenient handle to snap and pull from; some say the monkey method is correct, which is the opposite from the first method described—you hold the stem, pinch the opposite tip until the skin splits, and pull the skin down from where it splits.

A knife would make the job easier and possibly quicker, but that’s not very challenging nor impressive—how about trying to peel it with one hand? Surely each one of us has our tried-and-true method of getting to that delicious inner fruit without bruising it.

Before you throw away that peel, you might consider how you can put it to use. Do you have a wart or an itch or a splinter, or a shoe or some plant leaves to polish?

Bug bite itching, burn and scratch pain can be relieved if you rub the inside of a banana peel on it; taping part of the peel over the splinter or on a wart will dislodge the splinter and dissolve the wart; and putting banana in the soil will help your garden grow.

Bananas are among the most consumed fruits in the world. In fact, its consumption in Islamic countries during Ramadan increases—as , called Iftaar, each day of the month-long fast, which ends next Wednesday.

In addition to the wide variety of uses already mentioned, culinarily, there are also many preparations for the banana, creating an endless list of dishes. For starters, bananas can be used for smoothies, bread, chips, flavoring, creating scents, wine, beer, by itself as a snack, and the list goes on.

One of the most popular and mouthwatering preparations is the All American banana split, a dessert consisting of a banana cut in half lengthwise, hence the split, with three scoops of ice cream, one each of vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry, topped with pineapple, chocolate syrup, strawberry; and garnished with nuts, whipped cream and maraschino cherries.

The creation: a nice, 1,010-calorie (only 120 calories from the banana) dessert or snack, according to the nutrition facts at your local or 1,770 calories at . Well, in order for it to be deliciously rich, creamy and sweet, it has to be made with the right stuff—not recommended for dieting to lose weight.  

This dessert was probably designed to be a date dessert, because of its size, and two people might be more comfortable polishing it off; otherwise, you have to be one very hungry person.

With today being National Banana Split Day—grab a date, or a friend, or the family, and head on over to your local ice cream shop that whips up these sweet bombs.

Here are some local “sweet-eries” that serve up mouthwatering banana desserts including the famous “banana split.” 

  • serves up the Classic Banana Split and the Banana Royale, which is similar, but the banana is sliced, it has one scoop of ice cream, hot fudge, one cherry, and the rest is the same.
  • offers banana splits allowing you to choose your toppings, and other ice cream desserts can be made with bananas upon request.
  •  offers several banana options: Banana Cream Pie Blizzards and Banana Split Blizzards, Banana Sundaes, Banana Malts and Shakes.
  • Cold Stone Creamery offers signature Banana Caramel Crunch, Strawberry Banana Rendezvous, and other custom-built ice cream desserts with added banana per request.
  • serves up a Banana Streusel French Toast Sandwich, which has two thick slices of their orange swirl French toast filled with sautéed streusel bananas topped with toasted almonds and served with strawberry yogurt sauce.   

Happy Banana Split Day!

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