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Cookin’ with nanners

If you find yourself looking for a few banana recipes to get you out of the banana bread rut, banana oatmeal pancakes are a good option. Jessica Karley/Forum

Most of us buy plump bundles of bananas with good intentions of eating one each morning, but as the week goes on, we run out of time, and those happy little bananas quickly ripen. Before you know it, the bananas become mostly brown.

Some people are of the school of thought that, at this point, there are only two options: Throw them out or make banana bread. Then, there are others who, like me, view the ripening of bananas as a good thing.

As soon as brown spots appear, I start planning how I’m going to use them because they’re becoming perfect for cooking and baking. Those little brown spots indicate the fruit’s flavor is changing from a slightly “green” taste to much warmer, richer and a bit tropical flavor.

If you’re not going to be able to use these ripened bananas immediately, you can store them in your refrigerator and that will slow the process.

The peel of the banana will turn a darker shade of brown, but the fruit inside will stay just as delicious as they day you stored it. You can also keep them in the freezer. Just peel and store them in a freezer-safe container until you’re feeling creative. There are so many ways to cook and bake with well-ripened bananas.

If you find yourself looking for a few banana recipes to get you out of the banana bread rut, I have two great options.

Bananas Foster

The first is a recipe that I believe everyone should have in their personal cookbooks for lazy weekends, and that’s Banana Oatmeal Pancakes.

There are many different recipes out there, but these are heartier than traditional buttermilk pancakes because of the added fiber from the old-fashioned oats and whole-wheat flour. That helps to keep my son and I going strong all morning and put an end to midmorning snacking.

If I have enough bananas on hand, I’ll double this recipe and store the leftovers in the fridge or freezer for later use. Simply place the pancakes between pieces of wax paper and store them inside of a re-sealable plastic bag.

One to two minutes in the microwave later, and you have a delicious and speedy breakfast on a weekday morning, and these little hot cakes covered in maple syrup are sure to make someone feel special.

Another one of my favorite recipes is a little flashier. Literally.

It’s Bananas Foster. Ripe bananas cooking gently in a bubbling syrup made from brown sugar, butter, cinnamon and rum, that’s then ignited into a beautiful flash of blue and yellow.

Finally, that warm buttery, caramel sauce is served over cool and creamy vanilla ice cream. It’s a delicious way to end the day.

This classic New Orleans dessert is sure to impress guests and family. I can’t promise, but it may also make young children think you’re some sort of culinary super hero! In order to maintain that status, be sure to not have any other flammable items around your stove. (This includes pulling back your hair!)

Jessica Karley is a writer for Forum News Service. She can be reached at You can also read her food blog at

Bananas Foster

  • 2 whole bananas, ripened with a few brown specks
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter, 1 stick
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup dark rum

Peel and slice each banana into 10-12 slices. Set aside. Place butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is bubbly and slightly thickened. Add bananas and keep them in a single layer. Cook for 1 minute while gently spooning the syrup over top of bananas. Remove the pan from the heat and add rum. Let sit for 15 seconds, so it warms the alcohol. Tilt the pan slightly to bring all of the rum to one side. Using a lit, long-handled match or grill lighter, lower the flame to the rum and gently set the pan down until the flames burn off, about 1 minute. Arrange bananas over bowls of vanilla ice cream. Spoon the warm, caramel-like sauce over the top and enjoy!

Banana Oatmeal Pancakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • ½ teaspoon ginger, ground
  • ½ teaspoon iodized salt
  • 2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 bananas, ripened, mostly brown
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar or honey
  • ¼ cup milk
  • Pan spray, butter, coconut oil
  • Maple syrup

In a large bowl, combine all of your dry ingredients and whisk. Set aside. In a medium bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until only a few lumps remain. Add eggs, yogurt, vanilla, agave nectar and milk, stir until all ingredients are well-combined. Gently whisk the banana mixture into the flour mixture, being sure to mix thoroughly, so none of the dry ingredients are visible. Take care not to over mix. Heat a griddle or sauté pan over medium heat. Prepare the pan with pan spray or a light coating of butter or coconut oil. Using a ladle or measuring cup, add batter to the pan, 2-3 pancakes at time depending on the pan size. Since the batter will be thick, spread each one into a circle. When pancakes have begun to brown on the bottom and get a slightly dry appearance on the top, flip them to cook the other side. If they are browning too much before the tops are dry enough to flip, lower the cooking temperature. Serve with warm maple syrup and enjoy!

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