In the last decade, plant-based eating has gone mainstream. As a result, more and more people are opting for plant-based meals and meat alternatives – whether for a one-off meal or as a permanent lifestyle choice.
Why is this happening?
Of course, every person will have their reason, but health, environmental and financial considerations are often motivating reasons. Enjoying plant-based meals can make a diet healthier, affordable and more sustainable. So it’s not rocket science to understand why meat alternatives are gaining momentum.
The demand for new exciting plant-based products and meat alternatives has increased with a rise in the number of individuals adopting plant-based diets. As a result of its popularity, a thriving industry for plant-based and meat-free food has developed – making the products even more affordable and accessible.
TikTok, Instagram and other influential social media platforms are having an impact. Vegans, vegetarians, meat-eaters and flexitarians alike are discovering new ways to enjoy meat alternatives through these networks. As a result, creativity in the culinary world has never been as accessible as it is today. Exciting content showcasing top mock-meat and plant-based recipes is published daily, making it easy for individuals to incorporate new (meat-free) ideas in their cooking.
If you want a meat-free alternative, what comes to mind?
Well, straightforward choices like mushroom steaks, bean burgers and tofu continue to be delicious and on-trend. Mock meats are also rapidly penetrating the market, from brands like Quorn and HECK’s meat-free range. But there’s a problem. These products are getting more upmarket, more expensive and typically contain gluten and soy.
In response to the inaccessibility of mock meats, people have been getting creative in the kitchen. From using jackfruit as a meat substitute to homemade seitan, a food revolution is happening in people’s kitchens across the world.
That said, it can be a challenge to come up with new ideas and ways to replicate particular meat. Specifically, replicating the salty and smoke flavours and texture of bacon remains challenging to replicate convincingly.
Vegan bacon, or fake-on, is not a new trend. From using carrot slices, rice paper or even mushrooms, there are endless ideas to home cook ‘fake-on’. But what do these ideas lack? The combination of the perfect crunch and its smoky flavour.
What’s the solution? Banana Peels!
Yes, you read right! Though most assume Banana peels are inedible for their rubbery outer layer, they’re perfectly safe to eat! Banana peels as a meat alternative has been gaining traction in cooking and is becoming known for its applications as faux bacon for its texture and flavour profile! Isn’t that a-peel-ing?
We’ll admit, this won’t be to everyone’s tastes. But if you’re living a zero-waste lifestyle, are looking to be more sustainable or are just wanting a plant-based alternative to properly satisfy a craving for bacon – this is the solution for you.
So why do Banana Peels triumph as a meat alternative?
1. Nutritional Value:
Banana peels are packed with nutrition. They’re a great source of dietary fibre, which helps to keep your digestive system healthy. They also contain high levels of potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B6, all of which can help to improve overall health. From the magnesium helping regulate blood pressure to the potassium aiding muscle and nerve function, banana peels are bound to boost your mood. Literally… They contain tryptophan, a mood-elevating brain neurotransmitter. Plus, their low sugar content is a bonus and they’re easy to get year round!
Banana peels have a chewy, tough texture that is pretty similar to meat when cooked. Though bitter when raw, cooking your peels eliminates this bitterness and with seasoning, you get super salty, smokey and crispy peels that mimic traditional bacon. It doesn’t taste like bananas at all!
Note that raw peels do contain latex which is removed during cooking. That said, if you have a latex allergy, err on the side of caution.
Bananas and their peels are cheap and accessible, making them a cost-effective alternative to meat. With prices continuing to soar, especially for meat, is there a better time than now to give these peels a shot?
4. Lower Environmental impact & reduces food waste
Simply put, meat production contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and water pollution. Using banana peels as a meat substitute reduces the environmental impact of meat consumption and helps reduce food waste. In many cultures, banana peels are discarded. In 2014, banana peels accounted for 3.5 million tonnes of food waste, the majority of which end up in landfill. Using banana peels as a meat substitute uses products that are already in our supply chain, eliminating the need for additional inputs and reducing the amount of food waste produced in the process. Not only are these peels more sustainable, eco-friendly, and reduce our food waste, they are simply healthier. Who’s ready to try Banana Peel Bacon?
So how do you make it?
The Fooditude chefs have been busy cooking to find the best way to transform this simple ingredient, here’s a fool-proof banana peel bacon recipe to try (serves 4):
- Ripe banana peel from a bunch of bananas. Make sure to wash them well to remove pesticides, it’s safest to buy organic.
- 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
- 30g of tamari sauce (gluten free!)
- 30g cider vinegar
- Sprinkle of Salt
- 30g of maple syrup
- Scrape the excess flesh & stringy insides from your peels.
- Mix your ingredients in a bowl and place the peels into this marinade for at least an hour.
- Fry your peels in a pan on both sides like you would for bacon until crispy.
- Brush your vegan bacon with a little extra maple syrup and enjoy!
With innovation at the heart of our operations in the Fooditude kitchen, we’ve integrated our Banana Peel Bacon into our menus. One of our client favourites is our take on a good BLT, check out how it’s made:
- Banana peel bacon
- 4 ripe plum tomatoes sliced
- 2 heads of baby gem lettuce
- Bread Rolls (gluten-free if you like)
- Optional Ingredients to make Smoked paprika mayo:
- 10g of thinly chopped chives
- 80g of vegan mayo
- ½ a teaspoon of smoked paprika
- 10g of maple syrup.
- Assemble all your ingredients on a crusty bread roll, and enjoy!
The best part of this BLT? It’s vegan AND can be gluten-free if you choose to use gluten-free bread. So, with this new knowledge in mind, get ready to rethink banana peels for good and join the sustainable food movement!
Written by Safena Yvanovich