3 Ways To Use Ripe Bananas

Bananas are a somewhat unpredictable fruit…sometimes I buy very green ones and they last for days and other times I buy very green ones and they get overripe in a very short while.

If you’re not too particular about banana ripeness, this wouldn’t be a big problem, but I happen to have very specific ideas about when a banana is good to just peel and eat. It has to be just past being green…a light yellow, not too sweet, and still nice and firm.

Obviously, I can’t manage to only ever have a perfect supply of bananas at that stage of ripeness, so here are three ways I use up bananas that have moved past my idea of perfection.

1. Slice and top with nut butter

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This is super easy, my kids love it, and the addition of peanut butter makes a slightly-too-ripe banana palatable even to me.

2. Slice and Freeze For Smoothies

I don’t really like the taste of overripe bananas in smoothies, so if I notice that I’ve got more perfectly ripe bananas than I’ll be able to use quickly, I slice them, freeze them on a cookie sheet, and use them in smoothies.

Using frozen bananas along with other frozen fruit makes for a delightfully thick smoothie.

Also, frozen banana slices can be blended (I actually do that in my food processor) with nothing other than a bit of milk to make something resembling soft-serve banana ice cream.

3. Make Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

The lovely thing about banana muffins and banana bread is that they can disguise bananas that are good for nothing else in the world (except maybe the compost bin).

So when I have bananas that are too soft to be spread with peanut butter and too overripe to slice and freeze, I make these banana chocolate chip muffins and my children rejoice.

Do you have a favorite way to use up bananas? Share it in the comments!

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Today’s 365 post: This is a friend after my own heart.

 

How To Use Up Cilantro

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Those of you who are regulars around here know that cilantro has been my nemesis in my battle against food waste. It’s tough to use up an entire bunch before it gets wilty or slimy.

I’m happy to report that though I do still waste some every now and then, I’ve gotten much better at using it up.

Apparently I’m not the lone cilantro-waster out there, as a lot of you have emailed asking for tips on using it up.
Of course, cilantro is hardly the most dreadful food to waste…it’s small, compostable, and cheap, so wasting it is not as worrisome as wasting a cut of beef. Still, if you’re like me, you’d really rather eat your food instead of throwing it out.

I know that I could theoretically grow cilantro, but I have not personally had great success with this. My spindly little plants tend to go to seed really quickly, before they’re even large enough to provide much of anything in the way of food. So, I figure it’s worth it to me to pay $.99/bunch for cilantro.

The way you store cilantro will make a big difference in how long it stays fresh. In my experience, the best thing is to treat it sort of like fresh flowers. When I bring mine home from the store, I cut off the ends of the stems, place the bunch in a glass of water, and store the glass in the fridge.

Here are some suggestions for using your properly-stored cilantro:

  • make fresh salsa. I combine chopped tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, and cilantro and add a little bit of salt. This is so tasty, and not counting the chips you dip into it, it’s pretty healthy too.
  • add it to quesadillas, tacos, fajitas and other Mexican dishes
  • use it to jazz up jarred salsa
  • add it to scrambled eggs. In the picture below, I made a salsa-like mixture and used it to top scrambled eggs.

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(It was kind of early and the sun wasn’t up, which explains why this picture isn’t quite up to snuff. I’m not a fan of summer, but my goodness, summer days are much better for photography!)

  • make a cilantro pesto to use on pasta or in panini sandwiches (I use lime juice, cilantro, oil, and salt in mine)
  • plan for two cilantro dishes in the same week, like fajitas + paninis, or tortilla soup + tacos
  • make a salad with it. I use corn, black beans, tomatoes, and chopped cilantro with (oddly enough) ranch dressing. It’s surprisingly good.

So, those are my best ideas. If you’ve got a good suggestion to add, please do leave a comment to help us recovering cilantro-wasters!