Banana flour isn’t something that’s well known in America, at least not just yet, but it is definitely something to be excited about – especially if you’re gluten-free, Paleo, trying to lose weight or simply want to enjoy optimal health.
While you probably never imagined that someone would make flour from pulverized underripe bananas, that’s just what happened. This “magical” flour is made from green bananas – and that’s it, no other ingredients at all. Unlike their more sugary yellow counterparts, green bananas are loaded with resistant starch, which is a type of fiber that can’t be digested in the body – that means that it offers bulk with fewer calories, according to Rachel Begun, RDN.
Banana flour has been around for quite some time in parts of Africa and in Jamaica, where it’s been used as a cheaper alternative to higher-priced wheat flours. In the last couple of years, it just began making its way into the U.S. through the company WEDO Gluten Free, which markets it as a gluten-free alternative. You can buy your WEDO banana flour from this page on Amazon.
Here is a more in-depth look at why you should switch to this unique type of flour.
1. The taste and texture…
You might think that banana flour would at least have the subtle taste of bananas, which could really throw a recipe off, but the reality is that it tastes nothing like bananas, and has a somewhat sour flavor. But when the flour is added to a recipe, that sourness becomes something that’s almost like chocolatey goodness, while the finished product looks just like it was made from a popular flour like whole wheat. The result is much less dense than foods made with coconut or almond flour too. Instead of being gritty and grainy, the texture is lighter and fluffier.
2. Excellent value…
Due to the high starch content in banana flour, you can use less flour than required in everyday recipes, which means that banana flour can be excellent value. The rule of thumb is to use 30% less banana flour than whatever amount of flour is suggested in a particular recipe.
3. Cuts waste…
Banana flour is made from bananas that aren’t suitable for commercial sale, because they have slight blemishes or an odd shape, for example, but are otherwise fine. They usually end up as rejects as consumers won’t buy them, so the bananas are simply tossed out, going to waste. WEDO is able to prevent that waste as well as help farmers make a better living by purchasing part of the crop that commercial customers won’t.
4. Fewer calories…
At just 100 calories per ¼ cup, banana flour is lower in calories than all-purpose flour and many wheat flour alternatives like brown rice, almond, and oat flour. And, as you don’t need to use as much either, you save even more calories, ultimately reducing overall calorie count without sacrificing taste or texture.
5. More nutrition…
Banana flour contains 330 milligrams of potassium per ¼ cup serving – and, as it’s all natural, it retains many other vitamins and minerals from bananas like calcium too. It also contains RS2, which according to WEDO, is an important form of resistant starch that’s found in few foods, along with a good dose of healthy dietary fiber.
As a great source of RS2, this also helps to provide health benefits that include decreasing the risk of diabetes, obesity and colon cancer. It’s even been found scientifically to be an effective treatment for inflammatory bowel disease. Researchers who conducted a 2012 study on rats out of Brazil’s Institute of Biosciences, Universidade Estadual Paulista, concluded that the dietary use of banana flour “constituted an important dietary supplement and complementary medicine product to prevention and treatment of human inflammatory bowel disease.”
And, as RS2 are resistant to digestion, and not completely broken down and absorbed while traveling through the digestive tract, they go untouched through the stomach and small intestines. Once in the large intestines, they’re able to help feed healthy gut bacteria, and ultimately produce short-chain fatty acids that aid in increasing the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. They’ve also been found to help reduce blood sugar levels and increase satiety levels – further benefiting weight loss efforts.
6. A variety of uses…
Banana flour is an excellent gluten-free alternative for a replacement to traditional wheat flours as well as other alternative flours. As it’s gluten-free and grain-free, it’s an outstanding flour for those who have a gluten intolerance, celiac disease or for those who are simply following a grain-free or gluten-free diet for any other reason. It has a wide variety of uses, not just for baking, but it can also be used to thicken soups and sauces, bread making or added to smoothies and other foods to enjoy the many nutritional benefits.
Of course, as a fairly new flour on the market, it’s not easy to find lots of recipes, but we dug around and found quite a few, including these.
Banana Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies
The Fitnessista recently discovered the powers of banana flour and decided to test it out in this delicious recipe for chocolate chip cookies. She notes, “I liked the taste. It has a nutty, buckwheat-ish flavor; it certainly tastes ‘healthy.’ On the ‘super healthy’ (AKA things that taste like tree bark) scale, I would rank it below hemp, but above almond meal. I also appreciated the fact that there was no banana flavor. Just a slightly earthy, neutral taste.”
You can try her recipe here. In addition to banana flour, it calls for almond meal or oat flour, and instead of regular sugar, it uses coconut sugar and maple syrup.
This recipe from Natural Evolution Foods out of Australia, calls for a Thermomix appliance, a new-fangled high-tech kitchen gadget produced in the country, but you can simply use an electric mixer or add the mixture to your blender instead for fabulously fluffy, Paleo, gluten-free, grain-free pancakes.
Recipes on WEDO
WEDO has an extensive collection of banana flour recipes on its website, including recipes for pumpkin cupcakes and pumpkin muffins, ideal for fall, shakes, smoothies, gnocchi, fried chicken and even a delicious pizza crust.
Ready to try banana flour for yourself? Pick up a tub from this page on Amazon.