Most of us enjoy something salty and crunchy to snack on every once in a while, and if you’re anything like me, you can only handle so many nuts before the thought of another almond makes your belly hurt. My friend Suzy and I just finished facilitating a 10-day group detox during which we let go of grains and corn (along with many other inflammatory foods like sugar, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, soy, and certainly anything processed). This meant chips and crackers were off the table, which can make satisfying that craving for crunch a little tricky, especially when a carrot or celery stick is simply NOT going to do the trick. My answer to the salty-crunchy-craving are plantain chips, something I got turned on to through my travels to Jamaica.
Plantains are part of the banana family, but they are not as sweet. You would never eat a plantain raw as you would a banana. You usually bake or fry them. I always opt to fry them just because that’s how I was taught. If a plantain is ripe, it will look similar to a ripe banana – yellow with some brown spots on it – and when you saute it in coconut oil an amazing sweetness develops through the cooking process. I’m not exaggerating when I say that sauteed ripe plantains make a mouth-watering, deeply satisfying dessert.
Unripe plantains, on the other hand, will be pretty bright green on the outside (like the picture). These are the plantains you want for making plantain chips. I typically buy them at my nearby Fresh Thyme Market or Valley Natural Co-op, but it can be a bit of a scavenger hunt to find them sometimes.
One last tidbit about plantains: they are rich in something important called Resistant Starch, which is being talked about more frequently these days. Resistant Starch helps keep your blood sugar stable and is valuable food for the billions of bacteria that live in your gut. Remember, these are the bacteria that largely control the health of our immune system, so we want to keep this powerful ecosystem known as the “microbiome” fed and happy.
Happy snacking, everyone!
Yield: about 20 chips
1 unripe plantain
several tablespoons coconut oil (vegetable oil works fine, too, but I typically recommend avoiding vegetable oil if you can handle coconut oil)
Peel the plantain. You will likely need a knife for this step, as plantains do not easily peel like a banana does, especially the unripe ones. I usually slice through the peel lengthwise in several places and then begin working the peel off from those cuts. Sometimes I need to use my knife to slice it off completely.
Thinly slice plantains into “chip-size” pieces. The thinner you slice them, the crunchier they will be, which is a big part of the appeal. I use a very sharp knife to slice them so they are only about a millimeter thick. Most chips end up being 1-1 1/2 inches long.
Lightly sprinkle sea salt onto both sides of the plantain pieces, using your fingers to gently push the salt into the plantain flesh.
Heat 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil over medium heat in a cast iron pan or heavy skillet. I love my cast iron pan for making these – they don’t stick and get super crunchy. When oil is ready, place salted plantain pieces into oil. Fry for several minutes, then turn over to fry the other side for a couple minutes until beginning to turn golden. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Work in batches, if necessary, adding more oil to the pan before starting another batch.
Enjoy! If you decide to give them a try, let me know how it goes. These are undoubtedly one of my favorite snacks and I’m so excited to share them with you.