Going Bananas For Cream Pie

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - July 30, 2008
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Beverly Vehec, a Makakilo resident and manager of Wickerworks at Windward Mall, is a self-proclaimed workaholic who loves every aspect of her job.

Beverly has worked with Barbara Peroff, owner of Wickerworks, for the past 19 years, and they say “the store is not just a store, but an experience!”

They like to support local artists and carry hand-painted bottles and decorative accessories from local artisans in addition to rattan and wicker furniture from Thailand and the Philippines, lotions, soaps and a myriad of unusual items.

Originally from Ohio, Beverly and her husband, Frank, came here 24 years ago when Frank was in the Army. Frank now works for Henkels and McCoy in Kapolei.

They have three children: Frankie Vehec Jr., a graduate of Kapolei High School, and daughters Beth Egnew, who works at the store, and Anette Ines, an aesthetician at the J.W. Mariott Ihilani Resort and Spa.

In her spare time, Beverly likes to crochet, and she and Frank are working on a fishpond they recently installed at their home.

This column is dedicated to the whole Vehec family.

The banana is used as a dietary food for intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smooth consistency. In many cases, it is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress to chronic ulcers. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

Fully ripe yellow bananas will have some brown spots and should have no green. The peel of the reddish banana darkens as the fruit ripens. Choose bananas that are undamaged and avoid hard, green bananas if you want to consume them that day.

Bananas will ripen at room temperature, so buy some ripe and others with a bit of green on them.

Because bananas darken when exposed to air, it is best to cut them just before eating, or sprinkle with lemon or orange juice to prevent discoloring.

As the banana ripens, the sugars convert from hard-to-digest starch to easily digested sugars.

Bananas are an excellent source of vitamin B6 and potassium. They also are a source of vitamin C, riboflavin, folic acid and magnesium.

Since I seem to always have the problem of too many ripe bananas, here are some of my “banana strategies” to put them to good use.


* 1 reduced-fat graham cracker pre-made pie crust

* 1 package instant vanilla pudding

* 1 large or 2 small ripe bananas, sliced

* 1 tub low-fat whipped top-ping (Cool Whip is good and comes in nonfat and low-fat varieties), or aerosol can of light whipped cream

* sliced almonds, for garnish

* mint sprigs, for garnish, if desired

Prepare pudding as directed (you may substitute low-fat or skim milk), fold in sliced bananas, spoon into pie crust and chill for a few hours until set. Serve with a dollop of whipped topping or top with whipped cream and sprinkle with some sliced almonds. Place a sprig of mint in whipped topping to decorate, if desired.

* Bananas also can be frozen. To freeze, just mash them and combine with a bit of lemon juice to keep their color and freeze in airtight freezer bags. These can be defrosted when you need them for recipes like banana bread and banana cakes.

Note: If you don’t want the bananas to darken, thaw before opening the bags.

* Roasted bananas are also delicious as an accompaniment to fish or chicken.

Just remove peel, slice lengthwise, brush with butter and sprinkle with brown sugar and a little cinnamon, if desired. Place on a pan sprayed with cooking spray. Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 8-10 minutes. As an added bonus, keiki love them!

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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