Banana Dish Introduces Kids to Flavors of the Tropics
Tostones are perfect, easy to hold kid snacks -- healthy too!
Tostones are perfect, easy to hold kid snacks -- healthy too!

Traveling with family members who are too stubborn or too afraid to experiment with food can spoil any trip. You don’t want picky eaters to waste their tropical beach vacation standing in a buffet line. And you certainly shouldn’t skip the best seafood restaurants at your tropical destination to eat predictable (but mediocre) meals at international fast food chains.

Instead of giving in to a habit you’d prefer to conquer, introduce new foods of the region you are visiting before departure. In “Introducing Kids To Foreign Foods” you’ll find some tips on foreign dishes that kids love, as well as dinner recipes designed for picky eaters from the great chef’s resource, AllRecipes.com.
 

Flavors the Tropics Whet Kids’ Appetite for Adventure

Cook some of these healthy meals together and you’ll develop the family’s taste for rich new flavors, a variety of  textures, and the colorful fruits and vegetables of the tropics.  I guarantee that after trying new foods at home, kids will be more willing to sample local cuisine once you arrive.

If you’re heading to any of the Caribbean Islands, Central America or South America, start with this great recipe for tostones, a fried banana dish that’s widely served as a snack or vegetable.  The chef contributor HANZOtheRAZOR adds, “Fried plantains are cut into chips for another fantastic little appetizer from Puerto Rico. Tostones may be served with ketchup (kid’s favorite) or with garlic in olive oil.”
 
Unlike maduros, the soft sweet ripe bananas that often accompany a Latin dish, tostones are made of pounded green plantains that are more like a root vegetable than a fruit. They are typically sold in Latin bodegas or large supermarkets in neighborhoods with a Hispanic population, and are very inexpensive, yet nutritious and low in calories. For this dish, tostones are served as 1/4″ thick slices after having been lightly salted and fried, almost like circular french fries.
 

Ingredients for Preparing Tostones with the Kids

    1/4 cup vegetable oil
    3 green plantains, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces (this amount feeds up to 8)
    1 pinch garlic powder
    salt to taste
 

Directions for Preparing, Cooking & Serving Caribbean Tostones

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the plantain slices and fry until they soften, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.
    
Use a tostonera (a press) to slightly mash each piece until it is about 1/2 inch thick. If you do not have a tostonera, ask the kids to help you place the pieces between a folded brown paper bag and press down with a saucer. Press all of the pieces before going onto the next step.

Return the pieces to the hot skillet and fry until crispy, about 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels and season with garlic powder and salt while still warm. Your total preparation and cooking time should be about 20 minutes.  These treats have only 88 calories per serving.

From the Caribbean, Tostones Recipe by HANZOtheRazor; Photo by: Rock_lobster courtesy of AllRecipes.com
 

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