Make Sandra Lee's favorite healthy smoothie and easy banana bread

Sandra Lee shares her simple tips for storing bananas and how use them in a variety of recipes.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Sandra Lee

Bananas are one of my favorite ingredients because they are so versatile. My refreshing banana smoothie and sweet banana bread are just two of my favorite recipes made with this potassium-rich fruit.

Every morning, I start off my day with a banana smoothie. I add spinach for a healthy dose of fiber and fresh mint leaves make it super refreshing. If the greens are a little wilted, that's totally fine because everything gets blended up! My secret trick? I add in a packet of unsweetened açaí, which is loaded with antioxidants. Bananas and extra fruit, like mangoes or peaches, give this drink plenty of sweetness without any added sugars.

When I was a little girl, I loved mashed bananas. Once I learned how to bake sweet breads with them, I was hooked. Banana bread quickly became my favorite recipes to make, and it still is. If you don't have bananas, use another pantry item like canned cherries or apples. This loaf looks decadent but it's so incredibly easy to make. It's beautiful, moist and sweet all at the same time.

If you bought too many bananas at the store, don't fret if they start to go brown. Bananas are one of those fruits that freeze exceptionally well.

A lot of people think freezing bananas is difficult, but it's actually really simple. The trick is to never freeze them in their peels, otherwise you'll be stuck with a messy situation. I always buy bananas in bulk and freeze them in zip-top bags so I can use them whenever I want.

How to freeze bananas

1. Make sure the bananas are ripe. When a banana’s yellow peel displays small dark spots or streaks, this indicates the sugars have matured and the banana is sweet and ready to eat.

2. Peel the bananas. Discard the peels.

3. Slice them up. Slice or break banana into approximately 2-inch thick rounds.

4. Store the bananas. Place the rounds into a large, plastic resealable bag. Bananas can be frozen for up to six months.