Monday, July 21, 2014

Replace An American Staple

Any guesses what the staple is? Well, to give you a hint... it is a common vegetable that is seen typically fried or instant something or another. Wait, instant stuff isn't usually made from real ingredients, well at least not this particular food. 

Any guesses? Oh, one more hint. Congress recently said it was an acceptable (and widely pushed) vegetable at school lunches. (Ketchup too because it is made from tomatoes. How about the kind without HFCS for starters - that could help.) Gee. 

But, before we go any further. I'm not attacking the food because when we eat a variety of vegetables (and fruit) every day, this food a.k.a american staple is okay for consumption. However, it becomes problematic when it is eaten every day and especially when it's no longer considered "closest to nature." 

Like the FLOTUS said (paraphrased) recently in May, "There's nothing wrong with said food, but school lunches and WIC participants already get enough of them as it is." As you have come to know on my blog and in my health coaching business, I focus on eating the [real] rainbow. Real Rainbow = fruits and vegetables, closest to nature, a variety, and lots of them a day! Check this

I know you've already guessed what it is... right? In case you're still wondering: It's potatoes! More on this hot potato topic: hereIf you like potatoes, you may be interested in these 3 dishes: purple potatoesbuttery sage potatoes, and herb fries. Again, if potatoes are your only source of vegetables, it's time to diversify! Raises hand: "I've got a suggestion!!"

Plantains make an excellent substitute for potatoes. I am going to share my two recipes next! 

Benefits of plantains here and here. And, after this recipe, I'm going to pick up more plantains and try these pizza ideas Healthy Nibbles and Bits. Talk about the rainbow - mamma mia!! 

Also pictured is a fruit salad made with pluots, nectarines, and blueberries and fruit infused water made with white peaches, lemon, and blueberries. 

Sweet and Savory Plantains

2 large brown (or ripe) plantains (not green)
1/2 tbs coconut oil 
1/2 tbs coconut sugar divided 
1/2 tbs avocado oil (or you can use olive oil)
1/2 tsp sea salt divided

Note: Avocado oil is the "healthiest" high heat fat / oil. Of course, there are inferior oils that may work wonders in fast food chains, but you're not eating those oils, right? Avocado oil can be heated up to 520° but it costs a little more so if budget is a concern, opt for olive oil. Coconut oil can be heated up to 350° (and grapeseed to 420°). Source.

Coconut oil is a plant based saturated fat (MCTs) and should be eaten as a healthy fat. This is taught as a nutrition principle known as The Skinny on Fat in L.E.A.N. (I offer a self-paced e-class on this concept. Learn more here.) and more information on it from Nutiva here

Directions for the sweet:
1. In a skillet, heat coconut oil on medium. Cut plantains at an angle or about 1/4" thick. 
2. Place sliced plantains in the skillet in the coconut oil. The oil should not cover the bottom of the pan. The plantains will not be fully immersed as we are not 'deep' frying them. Flip plantains over after 3-5 minutes. Check to see if they're the color brown you're looking for. 
3. When plantains are brown, flip and cook for another 3 or so minutes. Place them on a paper towel to soak up excess oil but not too long as the paper towel may stick. 
4. Sprinkle coconut sugar on the tops of the plantains as soon as they're taken out of the oil. 

Directions for the savory:
1. Take a paper towel and clean out the hot skillet (or use another pan) and heat the avocado oil on medium. 
2. Place the plantains in and cook for about 3 minutes. These will cook slightly faster if using the same skillet as the pan is already hot. 
3. Flip when they're a golden or light brown color. Cook for an additional 3 minutes. Like the sweet plantains, they will not be immersed in oil. Just enough oil for the bottom of the pan.
4. Remove from oil and onto paper towels. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. 

Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 1 day. I don't think there will be any left though!! 

Other recipes you can do with plantains: Pancakes, Oven baked, Paleo Plantains with Guac, chicken stew and forum ideas from Chow

A Challenge For My Readers: 

Vanessa from The Oyster Girl and I were chatting on Instagram (are you following?) about plantains and she mentioned wanting to make her own version of mofongo (a fried plantain dish) and I was thinking about Jamaican beef patties and using her idea to make the crust in lieu of grains. Does anyone want to take this on as a challenge?  

Choose, eat, and live well! =)

Print This Post


  1. Great potato swap out suggestion. In the summer, especially when zucchini is plentiful, I use it in place of potatoes. I actually prefer a breakfast hash made with zucchini.

    1. Zucchini is good for any 'swap-out' any day of the week! =)

  2. We do have potatoes a couple times per week and tolerate them fine - but we love plaintans too - my girls would love these :)

    1. My husband loves potatoes. He's the traditional meat and potato kind of guy. We usually have various potato types from our CSA but we eat a good variety of other vegetables... this post was mainly for the folks who choose potato as their only source of veggies. =)

  3. We have red potatoes from the Farmers Market on Saturdays and keep them as a treat. I like the plantain idea.

  4. Thanks for helping us think outside of the "potato" box. :)

  5. I have been tater free for awhile. Thanks for these alternatives!

  6. Excellent replacement for fries and potato chips. This makes my mouth water just looking at your pictures!

    1. Thanks Vanessa for your comment and readership! They are an awesome alternative to potatoes. Not that potatoes are bad but they should not be our only source of vegetables. =)

  7. Hi Jessica,
    What a treat! My husband loves plantains and is always happy when I serve them.Thank you so much for sharing your healthy and delicious Sweet and Savory Plantain recipe at the Plant-Based Potluck Party Blog Hop! 'm pinning and tweeting this!