Starchy and dense, with a mild flavor, green plantain chunks are an interesting twist to my bowl of Tortilla/Avocado soup.
Plantains have been part of human diet for hundreds of years, especially in tropical regions where they originate. The plantain and banana are in the same family, however, plantains are typically larger, denser and less sweet. This makes them perfect for cooking, they hold their shape and texture pretty well. The plantain is actually a type of berry and there are actually several hundred varieties throughout the tropical regions across the globe. Plantains have a higher starch content and lower sugar, and they are really only palatable if cooked. Some varieties have an extremely high latex content making them challenging to peel and requiring a soak in salt water prior to cooking. In some cultures, green plantains are dried and ground into flour, then used to make flatbreads and or as a thickener to soups and stews.
From a culinary perspective, depending on the type of plantain you have, they are pretty easy to work with in the kitchen. As a tropical culinary mainstay, they can be used anywhere a potato or root veggie might be used. They can be fried, baked, roasted, added to soups or stews. They can be a stand-alone or integrated into a recipe.
From a health perspective, plantains are slowly digested starch, which means regulated impact on blood sugar. They are also high in fiber and things like oligosaccharides which keep the bacteria in your gut happy. The plantain also contains specific chemical compounds that help decrease cholesterol and lipids in the blood. One study used green plantain flour as the base for yellow noodles and noted a demonstrated reduction in digestive issues, unhealthy cholesterol issues, and bowel health, which resulted in balanced weight loss and decreased systemic inflammation. Plantains are rich in vitamins and minerals, like potassium and Vitamin A. They are also a great source of tryptophan. This makes plantains and bananas a good mood food as the tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin production.