Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Fantastic Fruits Series - Bountiful Banana

Bountiful Banana
I always marvel at Nature's repertoire of products...such a vast array of flora and fauna !People spend their entire lives cataloging known species and are always on the quest to find newer ones...For those of us who would still like to witness nature's handiwork without having to travel far and wide , we only have to look into our fruit bowls to get a glimpse of this miracle ! So many fruits...each with a different texture, a different colour, smell and of course a different taste ! Its a plethora of sensory stimuli !
The world is now getting smaller and smaller in more ways than one...All kinds of fruits,both the everyday kind and the exotic ones are available right at your grocery stores and usually at an affordable price too ! Wouldnt it be nice to know a bit about different kinds of fruits, the various uses of the fruits and different types of recipes to go with it ?
I have decided to do just that, experiment with all available fruits and jot it down on my blog, more for my own reference than anything else :)
I will not always go in the alphabetical order ( now where's the fun in that :D , also..since fruit availability doesnt necessarily follow any particular order, I might have to wait for a long time to proceed with my series if I decided to do that ;-)

So to inaugurate this series, I decided to look at the world's favourite fruit - the banana !

Here are some interesting facts about the banana :

  • The banana's origins are traced back to Malaysia. The fruit initially gained popularity in countries like India, China, Madagascar , the Caribbean among other countries, before finally making an appearance in America.
  • The banana plant is not a tree. It is in fact the world's largest herb.
  • A cluster of bananas is called a hand and consists of 10 to 20 bananas, which are known as fingers.
  • Bananas are harvested every single day of the year !
  • Bananas ripen best off the plant.
  • Each banana plant bears only one stem of fruit.
  • Banana plants have been in cultivation since the time of recorded history, thus encouraging horticulturists to believe that this was the first fruit on earth !
  • The word 'banan' is Arabic for finger.
Medicinal Uses :
  • Bananas are high in iron content and can help in treating anemia by increasing hemoglobin production.
  • Bananas are also high in potassium and less salt, thereby making them excellent snacking options for people with high blood pressure.
  • It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronic ulcer cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.
  • The inside of a banana skin can be rubbed over insect bites. It has been known to reduce redness of skin and swelling ! Who knew insect bite creams were available right under your nose ?
  • Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.
  • Last but not the least, bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin. This is a mood enhancer, it makes you relax, improves your mood and makes you happier ! Now who could ask for a better mid morning or afternoon snack ?
I decided to use this super fruit in a moist delicious muffin.
Found the recipe at this site , made a few changes and came up with a keeper !

Banana Crumb Muffin
Serves : 10 fairly big sized muffins


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup yogurt
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • a handful of coarsely chopped walnuts
  • Mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder,salt and half of the spice mixture (cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg)
  • In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, yogurt and oil. (I just mashed the bananas with my fingers and then mixed everything else as well as I could with a wooden spoon).
  • Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened.
  • Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
  • In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and the remaining spice mixture. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.
  • Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.
The muffins were amazingly moist without being crumbly.
With a taste of bananas in every bite and the crunch provided by the walnuts, these were a hit at my house :)
If you like bananas, then these are definitely for you!

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