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Plantains resemble bananas.
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The paleo diet is an eating pattern that mimics that of your ancestors from the Paleolithic era. During this primitive time period, humans ate a relatively low-carbohydrate diet consisting of meat they hunted themselves and plants they foraged for, Loren Cordain, author of "The Paleo Diet," maintains. This type of diet best fits modern humans' genetic predisposition, according to Cordain. The paleo diet excludes almost all starchy vegetables, including potatoes. However, plantains are the exception: They are allowed on the paleo diet.
The premise of the paleo diet is simple; avoid eating foods that were likely unavailable during the Paleolithic period. Those following the paleo diet stick to grass-fed, pastured animals; fish; shellfish; fresh fruit; nonstarchy vegetables; nuts and seeds; and unprocessed or minimally processed plant oils. The typical paleo diet consists of 22 to 40 percent carbohydrate, whereas the typical American diet contains about 60 percent carbohydrate. The paleo diet also excludes legumes, dairy, processed foods, refined sugar and cereal grains.
The paleo diet is rich in fruits and nonstarchy vegetables. Although plantains are starchy, they are a foraging food and prehistoric humans likely had access to them as a carbohydrate source, according to Cordain. In addition, plantains are rich in fiber and lower in sugar than their relative the banana. Plantains also contain more vitamin A and C than bananas. The paleo diet doesn't limit how much plantain you can eat, although too much of anything isn't a good idea.
The Savory Side
Plantains taste and are prepared differently based on their stage of ripeness. An unripe plantain is starchy and tastes more like a potato. It's common for those following a paleo diet to use plantains in savory dishes in place of rice or potatoes. You'll know the stage of ripeness based on its color. An unripe plantain is green and very firm if you press it with your fingers. In this state you can use it in soups and stews and as a side dish.
The Sweet Side
As plantains ripen, their color changes and they become sweeter. Plantains in a sweet stage of ripeness are yellow. As they ripen even more, they become brown to black and are in their sweetest stage of ripeness. The softer the plantain is when you press it, the riper it is. You can eat plantains in this stage of ripeness on their own as a snack or add them to dishes with other fruits.