By Hilary Metcalfe
Plantains for Hydration? We are chronically dehydrated. This can lead to poorer cognitive function with only a small amount of dehydration and impact your whole system functioning, including blood pressure, mood, skin, fatigue and even key organ function. But drinking water alone is not all that hydrates you!
Consuming foods that are rich in electrolytes: magnesium, potassium and (high quality, unbleached or iodised) salts are essential for replenishing lost minerals due to sweat, hormone imbalance or nourishing another being like in breastfeeding, pregnancy and postpartum. This is also especially true for (peri)menopause, summer heat exertion, before and after endurance training.
Plantains contain an abundance of potassium, are lower in sugar and have lower glycemic carbohydrates than bananas.
Here is a delicious summer bowl to make the most of this versatile 'cooking fruit' that is a staple food across the Caribbean, South America and Africa. Plantains, cashews, ginger and lime make this salad all kinds of tropical.
I make this salad with large cabbage leaves and stuff them as a wrap, or slice them thin and make a bowl out of it. In Cuba and Jamaica, plantains are typically deep-fried. Here, they are roasted in the oven for a few minutes then finished in a pan with ghee or coconut oil for golden brown caramelisation and crispy edges—but with much less fat and oil oxidation than what is typical for “platano frito” or fried plantains.
Prep Time: 20 mins
Serves: 2 as a main or 4 as a side
GINGER CASHEW DRESSING
200g raw cashews or cashew butter (sunflower seeds if you have a nut allergy)
60ml of raw apple cider, coconut or other mild vinegar
2 Tbsp (30ml) tamari, nama shoyu, coconut aminos or soy sauce
1 Tbsp (15g) crushed red chilis or 1/2 a fresh red chili pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Tbsp (15g) maple syrup or honey
2 Tbsp (30g) chopped fresh ginger
1 small clove of chopped garlic
1 lime, juiced
*Reserve a little lime juice for finishing the plantains and fresh red chilli, if using
1 handful watercress, baby salad greens, or sweet lettuce of choice (not arugula/rocket)
1 handful of spinach or other dark leafy green; chard or beet greens work well
1 handful celery or 1/2 thinly chopped fennel for crunch
1/4 purple cabbage, chopped razor thin
1 handful mixed sprouts (I used baby asparagus, broccoli and onion sprouts)
1 blackened plantain (not green!), peeled and chopped crosswise
1 Tbsp of coconut oil or ghee
Add grilled (white)fish, chicken or tempeh for a protein boost!
1 handful fresh coriander/cilantro, chopped
1 handful green onions, chopped
2 Tbsp (30g) black sesame seeds
Pickled daikon radish or vegan kimchi
A few slices of fresh, red chili pepper if desired
Preheat the oven to 170C and set out a frying pan with a pat of ghee or coconut oil for the plantains. The lazy way is to use cashew or sunflower butter, but to experience the full pow-pow of this lovely dressing, roast the cashews first at 170C for about 10 mins or until golden brown. Watch them closely after 5-7 mins; they can go from roasted to burnt in a flash.
While the cashews are roasting, chop vegetables and toss them into a big mixing bowl. Remove the cashews from the oven, reserving a few to toss on top of the dish as a garnish for added crunch. Toss all dressing ingredients except the water into a blender or food processor. Whizz them together and add water bit by bit, until you reach a consistency you like. Taste along the way.
Turn up the oven to 200C. Pop your sliced plantains on a baking tray lined with waxed paper and roast for 7-10 mins. Remove plantains from the oven and transfer to the hot frying pan with ghee/oil to finish turning them brown with crispy edges.
Toss the salad with dressing and top with the hot plantains, some chopped coriander (cilantro), green onion, black sesame, cashews and kimchi or pickles if you have them. The last squeeze of lime juice goes over the warm plantains to finish. You can use some of the fresh red chili to garnish as well, if you used that in the dressing.
You can add grilled fish, chicken or tempeh for a protein boost and make it a whole meal packed with protein.
Hilary is the Co-Founder of the SABI, a Holistic Nutritionist, natural, whole foods Chef, product developer and advocate for women getting to know their bodies, cycles and selves better. Born in Los Angeles, California and raised in Baja California, Mexico, she now lives in Amsterdam, The Netherlands with her partner and her curly-tailed rescue dog from Curacao, Flint.