I'll admit it. I'm on a plantain kick! In November, I visited my brother and sister-in-law in Florida and discovered how delicious the fried plantains tasted on my wahoo fish salad. I got my fill of plantains on that trip and recently re-discovered their magical sweetness and versatility.
Before I share some fabulous plantain recipes, let's talk nutrition. Plantains are an approved starch on the Paleo Diet and therefore something I wholeheartedly approve for my clients. They aren't exactly the first thing you think of to pick up at the grocery store but adding them to your cart brings a few bonuses:
- They are dirt cheap
- They have a long shelf life
- They are versatile in that you can cook them ripe or be creative, and cook them unripened. See my recipe explains at the bottom of this blog!
The unfortunate story of plantains is that they come with the risk that they've been heavily sprayed with pesticides unless of course they are organic. So choose organic if it's available. If not, be thankful that plantains carry a thick skin (thicker than that of a banana). In fact, peeling them may require a new set of skill set!
The nutrient profile is very promising as they provide a rich source of beta-carotene, are packed with Vitamin C, and contain healthy amounts of B6 and the minerals magnesium and potassium. They offer a sweet flavoring if sauteed with your main dish or a satisfying crunch if baked. This crunch is often missing from a paleo diet so for those of you who miss the 'chip crunch,' this may just do it for you….certainly does it for me.
Here are two very simple plantain recipes which will surely put a smile on your face and belly!
Simple Plantain Chips (Grain-Free, Bean-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free)
4 large green (unripened) plantains
1 cup extra-virgin coconut oil
Salt and spices to taste (see notes below)
Homemade guacamole for dipping!
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until a hummus consistency. Spread the batter evenly onto your baking sheet. The thinner the batter, the more crispy these chips will turn out. Baked for 10 minutes and then remove to score crackers with a sharp knife. Bake approx a remaining hour until golden brown (cooking time will depend on the thickness of your spread). Voila, the plantain cracker is born! These are most excellent dipped in homemade guacamole.
A big thanks to The Paleo Mom for supplying the original recipe which I've modified by doubling and experimenting with varied spices & dips. Speaking of spices, when I first made these, I added some salt after they were spread out on the baking sheet. Other times, I have experimented with spices such as cinnamon (savory sweet), cayenne pepper (for a kick), and dill or rosemary (herbal fusion). Anything is possible! Also, the longer these are baked (without burning), the sweeter they will become. If they aren't cooked fully through, they will be a more mush consistency so I recommend a thinner chip for that crispness we are all in search of when finding that 'perfect' chip. As you'll see in this picture, in my first attempt here, some chips came out thicker than others. All were delicious but the thinner ones were certainly more in line with what my mouth was searching for!
1-2 ripe plantains (they will start to turn black, to get here you may have to leave your unripened plantains sitting on the counter for 2-3 weeks)
1-2 TB extra-virgin coconut oil
Peel the plantain and slice into any shape you desire (about 1/4-1/2 inch thick). With a warmed cast-iron skillet, add the coconut oil and make sure it is evenly spread in the pan before adding the sliced up plantains. Keep your heat at medium-high and make sure you are keeping an eye on them to ensure they brown but not burn. These are super quick to make and will be cooked through in about 5 minutes total.
My favorite way to enjoy these is in a fish salad like that of which I had at a restaurant in Florida. However, they are also great as a side dish on a platter. In both cases, they add quite a punch of sweetness. Hopefully this my friends will prevent you from diving into any dessert!
In Health and Happiness,
Alison Held, M.S.