Bananas are very sweet and can be mashed and added to baked goods as a natural sweetener. Frozen bananas can be puréed to make smoothies or a healthful substitute for ice cream. They can be eaten out of hand or sliced and added to fruit salads. For an impressive dessert, flambé sliced bananas and serve over ice cream, or make a nutritious sandwich by combining sliced bananas and peanut butter on whole-grain bread.
In many Latin American and Asian countries, banana leaves are used in place of plates. The leaves work well as wrappers in place of aluminum foil for holding and steaming foods. In Malaysia, the banana flower is cooked and eaten; in Africa, a beer is brewed from bananas.
Because bananas emit a gas that promotes ripening, placing an unripe banana in a paper bag or breathable container with other produce will encourage the produce to ripen more quickly.