The banana is a favourite in lunchboxes everywhere. Whether it's eaten ripe and yellow or baked in a cake everyone calls "bread", the bendy portable potassium-rich snack is a staple of the Australian schoolyard, office and picnic. Best of all, bananas even come in their own packaging.
Now high-profile dietitian Susie Burrell says we should be chomping down the skins as well.
"[Australians] work our way through 5 million bananas a day so that is a lot of banana peels, which take some time to break down" she says.
"Utilising even some of those makes sense from a food waste perspective."
Burrell, who is an ambassador for industry organisation Australian Bananas, says eating the peel is an easy way to boost your diet with extra dietary fibre, vitamin B6, vitamin C and magnesium.
Burrell isn't suggesting we eat the skins whole, however. She recommends blending or baking them to break down the cell walls to make the nutrients easier to absorb – for example, in smoothies, cakes and curries.
To make a smoothie, chop the ends off the skin, cut the rest into small pieces and blend with the rest of the drink. For baked dishes, boil tough or green skins for 5-10 minutes until they're soft before mixing them into the recipe.
While the idea of eating skins may seem strange at first, Burrell says adding them to your meals creates "minimal change to taste and texture of the cooking".
Ripe yellow skins are rich in antioxidants that can help fight cancer, whereas green skins contain the amino acid tryptophan, which promotes better sleep, as well as resistant start, a type of fibre that benefits gut health.
If you're not inclined to eat the skin, however, Burrell says you could try cooking meat on top to help seal in juices or make your own banana-infused vinegar.
Susie Burrell's whole banana bread recipe
2 cups self-raising flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
⅔ cup castor sugar
1 cup low-fat milk
50g butter, melted
2 whole bananas, ends cut off and blended
1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence
1. Mix flour, bicarbonate of soda, sugar in a bowl with mashed banana, vanilla, eggs, milk and butter.
2. Spoon into loaf tin and bake at 180C for about 50-60 minutes until cooked through.
- Read more: 20 brilliant ways to use up browning bananas