Today's snack: What's more ap-PEEL-ing than a
banana shake? Mix in a blender:
Clean rags and scuffed shoes
There may be no better after-school
treat than a banana. Everybody knows apples are good for you, but bananas have
four times the protein, twice the carbohydrates, three times the phosphorus,
five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals.
Eat a banana plain, mix it with
peanut butter, make an ice cream smoothie, or make a shake with banana, milk and
honey for a real power trip.
Sure, you can eat it, but first, let's do some stuff with
it. For example, it makes a nice model for a pen and ink drawing because it
holds so still!
If you have a globe or a world map, get it out and find out
where BananaLand is. Where does this wonder food come from? Bananas grow in
bunches on long, strong stems that hang from the stalk of a banana plant.
Banana plants grow in the hot, damp climates of countries near the equator,
especially in Central America, Mexico, the West Indies, Ecuador and Brazil, as
well as in Hawaii and Florida in the United States.
Though the banana plant grows up to 30 feet tall, it's not a
tree because it doesn't have a woody trunk or boughs. Instead, the long
leafstalks wrap tightly together. A banana plant leaf may be 10 feet long.
It only takes a banana plant a year or 15 months to grow to
its full size, and then it starts flowering and forming tiny green bananas.
There may be 120 to 150 individual banana "fingers" in one big bunch.
In some places, big banana leaves are used to roof houses or
make mats, bags and baskets.
Though bananas are picked and shipped while they are unripe,
green and inedible, the peel keeps germs and dirt away from the fruit 'til the
yellow color signals that the banana is ready to eat. It may take 2½ weeks from
picking to ripening, which makes the banana a really convenient fruit to get to
If you want to ripen a banana more quickly, put it with an
apple or a tomato into a brown paper bag, and make sure no light can get in.
Leave it on the counter overnight. The natural food gases should make it ripe
by the next day.
Fast fact: "Chiquita," a popular banana brand name, is
Spanish for something little and feminine.
Exercise idea: you can use a banana as a baton in a relay
race . . . or put it under your chin and try to pass it from one person to
another with no hands . . . or play the quick-thinking game "Hot Banana" (kids
sit on the floor and toss the banana to each other while someone, perhaps an
adult, turns on some music; each time you catch it, you have to say something
that's hot before you can throw it to someone else, and then suddenly, the
music stops, and whoever's holding the banana is "out"; keep on going 'til you
have a winner . . .who will be . . . naturally . . . the TOP BANANA.
But we all agree, bananas are extra tasty, and they are
really, really good for you. The first nine points, below, tell what bananas
can do for you in terms of health. The tenth point tells something that you can
do for others, using the peels!
Energy. The banana has
three natural sugars: sucrose, fructose and glucose. That's what gives you an
instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy. Two bananas provide enough
energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. That's why athletes love them so
Happiness. Bananas contain
tryptophan, a protein that the body converts into serotonin. Serotonin helps
you relax, improves your mood, and generally makes you feel happier. Bananas
also contain vitamin B6, which regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect
Strength. High in iron,
bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood. That helps you
avoid getting anemia, a blood condition in which you feel weak and listless.
blood pressure. Bananas are extremely high in potassium and low in salt.
That makes them great for keeping normal blood pressure, and avoiding strokes.
Alertness. The potassium
also makes your brain more alert, so when you have a big test coming up, you
might literally want to eat a bunch of bananas!
No. 2. Bananas have a
lot of fiber. Fiber helps your digestive system be more efficient. That makes
you more "regular" in the restroom. Eww! Enough said about that.
- Mosquito bites, warts and other skin grossouts: The inside of a banana peel
can really help reduce the swelling and itchiness of a skeeter bite
because of the chemicals that are in the peel. They say you can tape a
piece of the inside peel of a banana to a wart, and keep it in place with
surgical tape or a plaster, and over time the wart will go away.
reduction. When you're worried or under pressure, you tend to eat too much food
and often the wrong kind - chocolate, chips, cookies, etc. Yes, you need high
carbohydrate foods for energy every couple of hours to deal with stress, but it
doesn't have to be bad-for-you high carbohydrate food. It can be bananas! The
potassium in bananas is great for keeping an even heartbeat, sending oxygen to
the brain and regulating your body's water balance.
You know how sometimes when you're worried, you get a stomachache? Bananas to
the rescue again. Bananas are the only raw fruit that can be eaten without
irritating your stomach because of its soft texture and smoothness.
10. Shoeshine. You read that
right. Here's an environmentally friendly way to buff up a pair of shoes, too.
Ask permission first, but get a pair of leather or vinyl loafers or dress shoes
that are scuffed and dirty. You could use your own, or get them from your
parents or a neighbor - anybody you'd like to bless. They should be made of
shiny vinyl or leather, not the canvas of athletic shoes or fuzzy suede. Take
the underside of the banana you just ate, and rub the shoes gently. Polish with
a dry cloth. If you want to, you can rub a little dab of Vaseline over it to
really make it shine.
For a (pun intended) BUNCH more learning
ideas on a banana theme, see: