I hate letting food go to waste. It's one of the reasons I grocery shop frequently, only buying what I'll use right away, rather than purchasing food for a few weeks at a time.
But no matter what I do, I always wind up with a surplus of bananas.
My intentions to eat the fruit, which is rich in potassium, vitamin C and fiber, says Lorraine Kearney, CEO and founder of New York City Nutrition, before a workout or as a snack tend to go unfulfilled.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to use bananas before they go bad — even if they're overripe.
USA TODAY rounded up a few good recipes to make use of the versatile fruit in the forms of breakfast, snack and dessert.
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Banana chocolate chip muffins
Banana muffins with chocolate chips have been a staple dessert in my life since the time I was growing up — plus, if you want to believe, they can double as breakfast. Major win, in my book.
These are fairly easy to bake and can be made gluten free by substituting 1:1 gluten free baking flour for regular flour.
The recipe I used here is one I found on Taste of Home and altered by substituting gluten-free flour and adding chocolate chips.
Here's how I did it:
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
Line muffin tray
Combine dry ingredients (1 and 1/2 cups flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt)
In a separate bowl, mash 3 medium ripe bananas
Add wet ingredients to bananas (1 large egg, 1/3 cup vegetable oil, 1 tsp vanilla extract)
Mix wet ingredients
Add wet ingredients into dry ingredients
Fold in 1/2 bag chocolate chips
Bake 20-22 minutes
If you don't eat these within a couple days (good luck) they freeze well, too.
Peanut butter-banana overnight oats
Overnight oats can be made with a wide range of ingredients — and banana is a really great one to add.
Looking around my kitchen last night I was trying to decide what I could make in advance for a healthy Monday morning breakfast. I had chia seeds, a banana, powdered peanut butter, and oats along with Greek yogurt.
After some searching on Google, I found this recipe for overnight oats from Clean and Delicious and tweaked it to use powdered peanut butter instead of regular peanut butter.
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1/4 tsp of cinnamon
And then folded in:
1/2 chopped banana
1 tbsp powdered peanut butter mixed with water
Then I popped it in the fridge overnight in a covered dish. This breakfast is protein packed (18 g per my calculations!), fiber full (11 g) and super filling and tasty at 321 calories.
Bananas are often a fundamental ingredient in smoothies of many variations and they can be added straight from the fruit basket or after being frozen — smoothies are easy and can be adjusted to your liking.
I've tried a bunch with bananas and these are two of my favorites.
My post-workout breakfast smoothie is inspired by this one from Chocolate Covered Katie's site.
Here’s what I added to the blender:
Two small frozen bananas
2 tbsp powdered peanut butter
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
12 oz unsweetened almond milk
1/3 cup quick oats
A peach mango protein smoothie is another option.
Recently, I tried a peach mango protein smoothie that I concocted with some inspiration from A Couple Cooks' recipe. This one makes around 2 small smoothies.
Here’s what I added to the blender:
Half a banana
1 cup frozen mango
1 cup frozen peaches
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
12 oz almond milk (I started with 8 oz and added more as I went until it was as smooth as I wanted)
1 cup ice
When are bananas good to eat?
Kearney says that bananas change as they ripen — and are good for several stages, and are edible longer than you'd might think.
"As a banana ripens it changes color from the green chlorophyll by ethylene hormone to produce a softer yellow sweet banana that is ripe for eating," she explains. "As it matures, it turns brown and increases in sweetness until it decays."
Green bananas contain a more resistant starch that makes the fruit harder to digest.
As it changes color, the antioxidants increase and the banana starts to taste sweeter and become easier to digest.
How to make bananas last longer in the first place
The ripening process of bananas can be slowed by storing the fruit under particular conditions, Kearney explains in an email to USA TODAY.
To store bananas correctly, they should be kept in a cool place away from sunlight, she says.
My editor swears by the plastic wrap hack. She covers the stems of the banana bundle with plastic wrap, slowing the ripening process by stifling the release of ethylene gas.
And, if you can't use bananas right away, put them in the freezer.
"Bananas can be peeled and/sliced and added to the freezer for up to six weeks," Kearney says. "Frozen bananas are great for smoothies or adding to a blender to make dairy free ice-cream. I love to add chocolate chips and pistachios when making banana ice-cream."
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Extra bananas? Here are 3 ways to use them in smoothies, muffins, oats