Plantains are very often mistaken as bananas. While they are similar, they are definitely not the same. Plantains are less sweet and starchier than regular bananas and are usually never eaten raw. Plantains are often referred to as a superfood because of all the health properties it provides.
Plantains are a staple food in a lot of tropical countries. A cooked plantain has a very similar nutritional profile to that of a potato. It is high in starch and cannot be eaten raw. Plantains are cooked in many ways; boiled, fried, dried and then processed into flour.
Fun fact- In some parts of East Africa, the plantain is used to make beer!
Very similar to that of a banana plant, the plantain plant is a large herb that comes from an underground stem. The plantain plant is around 10 – 33 feet tall and the fruit is bigger than a regular banana. The fruit is brownish yellow or green and are available in different varieties like the French plantain and the horn plantain. Interestingly, plantains have been traced to Southeast Asia and both the varieties of plantains are said to have the same origin. Plantains are commonly grown in Africa, India, Egypt, tropical America and some parts of East Africa.
Nutritional Profile of Plantains
Since plantains are commonly referred to as a superfood, it is safe to assume that plantains contain a large amount of vitamins and minerals that are required by our body. What exactly is present in plantains? Let’s find out.
Nutritional profile for one cup of baked yellow plantains (USDA) –
- Fat – 0.22 g
- Protein – 2 g
- Carbohydrates – 58 g
- Fiber – 3 g
- Potassium – 663 mg
- Vitamin C – 23mg
- Vitamin A – 63 ug
- Vitamin B-6 0.29 mg
- Magnesium – 57 mg
This is the nutritional profile of plantains. Plantains are usually low in protein and fat.
Health Benefits of Eating Plantains
Plantains contain polyphenols and flavonoids that act as antioxidants and fight free radicals that cause oxidative stress.
Plantains contain potassium which ensures that your heart, nerves and muscles function well. Potassium also regulates blood pressure and reduces the risk of getting a stroke.
Plantains are rich in resistant starch and it slows down digestion and enhances good gut bacteria. All of this increases your glycemic control.
- Healthy weight management
The complex carbs found in plantains are slowly digested and less processed. This keeps you feeling fuller after a meal and curbs your appetite.
Can I eat plantains when I’m pregnant?
Plantains provide a multitude of benefits and that is why they are referred to as a superfood. Some benefits of consuming plantains when you are pregnant includes-
It is very common for pregnant women to feel constipated or have some issue with their bowel movements due to the position and movement of the baby. Eating foods that are rich in fibre ensures proper functioning of the digestive system.
Plantains contain vitamin A which is essential for bodies. For pregnant women, it is especially important to ensure that you do not suffer from vitamin A deficiency as it could cause early delivery.
Pregnant women are at a much higher risk of being anaemic and hence, it is important to eat foods that are rich in iron. Plantains are a very good source of iron.
Plantains cannot be eaten as it is and have to be cooked to some extent. A very delicious way to include plantains is to make a plantain lasagne because who doesn’t love a good lasagne?
- 3-4 large ripe plantains
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 teaspoons (15 g) minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon (2 g) cumin spice
- 1 teaspoon (2g) smoked paprika
- ½ -1 teaspoon (1-2 g) cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon (1 g) dried oregano or thyme
- ¼ teaspoon (0.5 g) ground coriander
- 1 red/green bell pepper , chopped
- 2 tomatoes chopped or 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 pound (453.59 g) ground beef/chicken
- 1 16- ounce black beans , drained and rinsed
- 3 tablespoons (45 g) water
- ½ teaspoon (2.5 g) salt
- 1 packet sazon or 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon
- ½ teaspoon (1 g) freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup sliced olives
- 2 -3 green onion , chopped
- 2-3 tablespoons parsley chopped
- 2 cup (226 g) shredded cheese
- 2-3 large eggs
- Using a sharp knife cut both ends off the plantain. This will make it easy to grab the skin of the plantains. Slit a shallow line down the long seam of the plantain; peel only as deep as the peel. Remove plantain peel by pulling it back. Slice the plantains horizontally into 4-5 pieces depending on plantains. You may either fry or bake the plantains. I prefer frying.
- Heat up a large skillet or cast iron with oil up to ½ inch- medium-high heat until hot but not smoking.
- Fry the plantain in batches, turning once, until lightly brown, about 5 minutes. Do not overcrowd the pan (it will make the plantains to be soggy and absorb excess oil).
- Use a slotted spoon, transfer the fried plantains and drain on paper towels.
- Spray a baking sheet and place plantains on them in a single layer; spray lightly over the plantains using the canola oil spray and bake at 400 degrees F, turning over slices, after 8 minutes for about 12- 20 minutes or till plantains turn slightly brown.
MAKING THE FILLING
- Next add about 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet followed by onions, garlic, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne, oregano, coriander and sweat for about a minute.
- Then add bell pepper, tomatoes or tomato sauce, bring to a simmer. Add ground meat, beans and cook for about 7-10 minutes, while stirring frequently to prevent burning burn. Add about 3 tablespoons of broth or water as needed. Season with salt, chicken bouillon or sazon and black pepper.
- Finally add olives, green onions and parsley, adjust for seasoning. Remove and set aside
- Spray a deep 8x8 pan with cooking spray or rub with butter/oil.
- Line the bottom of the baking pan with the fried plantain. Make sure there is no space between the plantains.
- Add enough of the beef mixture to make a layer, just like you would prepare lasagna. Alternate rows of plantains and meat until both are used up. Add cheese in between, if desired.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and pour over the Pastelon. Making sure to cover the entire thing.
- Add cheese if desired, or only use cheese
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes, or until all the egg has cooked through and the cheese is bubbly.
- Let it cool then serve warm
Recipe from https://www.africanbites.com/plantain-lasagna/