February 13, 2014 at 12:07 p.m.

Let's hear it for bananas

Let's hear it for bananas
Let's hear it for bananas

What is the most popular and least expensive fruit in the produce department? Bananas, of course. They are almost too good to be true. Not only are they America’s number one selling fruit and its least expensive as well as one of its most nutritious. They are helpers in the fight against heart disease. High blood cholesterol and the risk of stroke can be reduced by as much as 40 percent by eating one banana a day. They are very high in vitamin B-6 and that makes the banana just about the perfect food since it has no fat, is high in potassium and fiber, low in sodium and an average banana has just 95 calories.

BANANA CREAM DESSERT
3 c. graham cracker crumbs
1/2 c. butter or margarine
3-1/2 c. cold milk
2 pkgs. (3 oz. each) instant vanilla pudding mix
5 medium, firm bananas, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2 in. slices
1-20 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained well
1-20 oz. container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1/3 c. chopped pecans
1/3 c.-1/2 c. mini chocolate chips, optional
Maraschino cherries

In a medium bowl, combine crumbs and butter. Press into an ungreased 9x13 inch baking pan. In a mixing bowl, beat milk and pudding mix on low speed for two minutes. Pour over crust, let set four minutes. Carefully top with bananas and pineapple. Spread with whipped topping (pan will be full). Sprinkle with pecans and chips if you wish. Chill for at least four hours before cutting. Garnish with cherries. Makes 16 servings.

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BANANA SQUARES
2 eggs, separated, reserve egg yolks
2/3 c. shortening
1-1/2 c. sugar
1 c. mashed ripe bananas (three medium)
1-1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1/4 c. sour milk*
1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 c. chopped walnuts, optional
Whipped cream and sliced bananas, optional

In a large mixing bowl, cream shortening and sugar. Beat in egg yolks; mix well. Add bananas. In a bowl, combine flour and baking soda; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beating after each addition. Add vanilla. In a small bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold into banana mixture. Fold in nuts if you wish. Pour into a greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool on wire rack. If you wish, garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and a few banana slices. *To sour milk, put 1 t. vinegar in a measuring cup. Add enough milk to equal 1/4 c. You can substitute buttermilk for sour milk if you wish. Makes 12-16 servings.

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LOW-FAT  BANANA MUFFINS
2-1/2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1 c. sugar
3 egg whites
2 c. mashed, ripe bananas
1 t. vanilla

In a large bowl, combine first four ingredients. Combine remaining ingredients; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Coat muffin cups with cooking spray or use paper liners; fill cups 2/3 full. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until muffins test done. Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool. Makes 15 muffins. Note: If you only have a 12-cup muffin tin, put leftover batter in greased custard cups.

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BANANA NUT BROWNIES
1/2 c. butter or margarine, melted and cooled
1 c. sugar
3 T. baking cocoa
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 T. milk
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 c. mashed, ripe bananas (three medium)
1/2 c. chopped walnuts Powdered sugar, optional

In a bowl, combine first three ingredients; mix well. Stir in next three ingredients. Blend in next three ingredients. Stir in bananas and nuts. Pour into a greased 9” square baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until brownies test done. Cool on wire rack. Just before serving, dust with powdered sugar if you wish. Makes 16 bars. Thought for the Day: It’s Valentine’s Day! Remember that special person in your life with some very special words. I’m not going to tell you what to say... that’s your job!


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