Do you remember my post on how my ethnic background predisposed me to eating hot peppers as frequently as I eat jam?
You can still read it here: Why I will never gain weight!
Well, plantains are another one of those staples food I ate as a child and I still eat today with much enjoyment.
I don’t eat my plantains fried the way my grandmother used to make them … she not only fried them … she fried them twice in saturated vegetable oil (aka twice-fried plantains) that had been used over and over again. I love my grandmother, but even she would no longer cook this way today with the knowledge that’s available on nutrition.
Here’s what twice-fried plantains look like as they are being deep fried in a lot of oil:
Here’s what twice-fried plantains look like once they are ready to be eaten:
When it comes to eating plantains, I eat them the way a number of Africans do. This way of cooking them was passed on from a French girlfriend whose family was originally from the Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire).
You won’t find too many Africans, Filipinos, Indians, Caribbean people, Central or South Americans who don’t eat plantains on a regular basis. They are a staple food item in those countries!
I’ll share my own plantain recipe at the end of this post, but I thought we should look at the health benefits first.
If you’ve never eaten plantains before, I should explain that they look like big green bananas, but you cannot eat them raw like you would a sweet banana. You will need to cook them before eating them.
Nine reasons why should you eat plantains?
- Indians (from India) have dubbed this vegetable-fruit “nature’s secret of perpetual youth”! I don’t know about you, but that’s good enough reason for me!
- Plantains are excellent at promoting digestion.
- Plantains will help your body retain more calcium, phosphorous and nitrogen … which will help rejuvenate your healthy tissues.
- The sugar in plantains can easily be metabolized and digested by your body.
- Plantains contain high levels of vitamin A, potassium, calcium, iron and fiber.
- Plantains will do wonders at keeping you regular and will relieve you from constipation.
- Plantains are low in sodium.
- Plantains don’t contain ANY cholesterol!
- Plantains (and yellow bananas) are an essential food for anyone suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) because they contain natural mood enhancers … so eat more plantains during winter months when the daylight is shorter and shorter.
Cooking plantains … the health way:
I’ve read that some culture boil their plantains and I have to say that I might have to pass on that offer since I’m not big on boiled root vegetables. I find it a bit too bland for my taste. I also realize that the only way you can eat a boiled plantain is by choosing the green ones … which I never eat.
So here is my recipe for baked and broiled plantains:
1) I always buy my plantains as green as possible and I allow them to ripen at home near a window. During the summer it might take 10 days for them to be fully ripened, but during the winter that can extend to three weeks! When I mean ripened, I mean seriously ripened. I allow my plantains to turn black (the skin will go from green to golden to black). Once they are that ripe, I know they are super sweet inside.
Plantains going from green to black:
2) I cut the skin off.
3) I pull out one sheet of aluminum foil or a baking dish.
4) I coat the plantain in grape seed oil because that’s what I have on hand, but you can use peanut oil or any other oil. I’d avoid olive oil because it has a strong taste and I don’t want it to compete with the sugary taste of the plantain.
5) I place the oiled plantains in the dish or on the aluminum foil and I place them in a hot oven (350 F/ C).
6) I bake the plantain for about 15-20 minutes (you should check periodically to make sure you don’t burn them).
7) I finish the last minute or two by switching the oven to broil.
#8) I lightly salt the plantain the second it comes out of the oven.
9) I usually always prepare a tomato based sauce as an accompaniment and I usually put a hefty amount of hot peppers (you can bypass the hot peppers and still enjoy your plantains).
I will eat my Baked and Broiled Plantains as a standalone or with an oven-baked chicken.
First photo by *L*u*z*a*
Photo of twice-fried plantains in frying pan by Fimb
Photo of twice-fried plantains on a plate by Rinaldo W.
Photo of plantains changing colour by David Blaine