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April, 2012

Bananas for Manzanos!

By Cheryl Forberg

The banana that most of us are accustomed to eating is the Cavendish variety, which accounts for most of the world’s banana exports.

Though I recently moved to a farm, and planted as many varieties of vegetables and fruit as I could, bananas will not be in the mix. It’s not that I don’t love them – I do. But the climate in Napa, California where I live, doesn’t support the tropical environment that the banana plant needs. Yes, I said banana plant! Most of us think of them growing on a tree, but it’s actually considered a plant because what we view or think of as its “tree trunk” is actually considered a stem or pseudostem. And this stem, which can produce a single bunch of bananas, dies after doing so.

The banana that most of us are accustomed to eating is the Cavendish variety, which accounts for most of the world’s banana exports. This is in part because of its favored flavor, but also because it stands up well to global shipping – not all do.

Burro Bananas

One of my fave bananas is called the Manzano. Increasingly easier to find, they’re also known as a dessert banana or apple banana. Short and stubby, they have a thick skin that turns very dark when ripe. Be patient and wait for this color cue and you’ll be rewarded with a creamy sweet taste with hints of apple and strawberry.

Like Cavendish bananas, Manzanos are a good source of fiber and potassium. I also like the fact that one of them constitutes a neat portable serving size where large bananas deliver two servings. Be sure to store your Manzanos at room temp, but once ripened, you can put them in a fridge for a few days. They are fabulous eaten plain but just as delicious as Cavendish bananas in your favorite baked goods. Here’s a recipe for my favorite banana treat, Manzano Banana Bread with Red Walnuts. If you don’t have red walnuts, regular walnuts or pecans will do just fine.

Manzano Banana Bread with Red Walnuts
Makes 16 slices

Manzano Banana Bread with Red Walnuts

Ingredients:
2 cups White Whole Weat Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
¼ teaspoon Salt
1 Egg
1 cup Melissa’s Organic Blue Agave Syrup
½ cup Grapeseed or Canola Oil
2 Tablespoons Buttermilk or Plain Kefir or Plain Yogurt
2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
6 very ripe Manzano or 3 medium-large Banannas, mashed (about 2 cups)
½ cup chopped Red Walnuts

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray a 9x5x3 loaf pan with cooking oil spray.

Blend the flour, baking soda, and salt in large mixing bowl; set aside. Mix the egg, agave and oil until combined.

Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and when blended, add the buttermilk, vanilla, and mashed bananas; mix well. Fold in the nuts and pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

Bake for ~ 60 minutes in preheated oven until a toothpick comes out clean.

Nutritional information (per serving):
Calories 230
Fat calories 90
Total fat 10 grams
Sat fat 1 grams
Cholesterol 10mg
Sodium 310mg
Total carbohydrates 34g
Fiber 3g
Sugars 19g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A IUs 0%
Vitamin C 4%
Calcium 0%
Iron 4%