Bananas may be one of natures greatest gifts to us. Theyre high in potassium, which is vital to heart function and can help lower blood pressure. Theyre high in fiber, which is good for the digestive system. And, theyre high in a certain prebiotic, which helps the body to absorb nutrients better including calcium making them good for your bones.

As if those health benefits werent enough, they come in their own packaging, are easily transportable and theyre just the perfect size for a snack. Mother Nature is so smart!

The only downside to bananas may be that they have a tendency to ripen quickly and if youre like me, you often find yourself with overripe bananas.

Thankfully, you have a number of great options to keep these fabulous fruits from going to waste.

  1. Smoothies Bananas are the ideal addition to smoothies, especially if you have a chance to let them freeze before theyre needed. Not only do they add a creaminess to the drink, but they do so without the flavor being too overpowering. In my opinion, they are perfect to balance out greens that may be a bit bitter on their own. Thanks to their fiber, they also make the smoothie more filling and keep hunger at bay longer.
  2. Frozen dessert When you notice your bananas starting to turn a little too ripe for you, peel them and stick them in the freezer. When youre craving dessert, toss them in the blender and you have an instant frozen treat. You can even make your banana ice cream more decadent by simply adding other fruits or even cocoa powder, cinnamon, nuts or carob chips. The varieties are endless.
  3. Healthy oatmeal cookies Some people may make their oatmeal cookies with butter, sugar and milk, but theres a much healthier and easier option thanks the overripe bananas. Mash three bananas with a fork until theyre smooth. Mix in one cup of rolled oats and a pinch of salt and blend together. If you have almond flour on hand, that can make a nice addition to improve the texture and soak up some of the moisture from the banana. Now its time to add the flavoring. I recommend shredded unsweetened coconut, 2 teaspoons of vanilla and about teaspoon cinnamon. You can also add chocolate or carob chips or raisins. Drop them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake them. You can also freeze them and eat them raw. Enjoy!
  4. Banana popsicles Who needs popsicles full of sugar when you can have all natural banana popsicles. As long as theyre not so overripe that theyre mushy, press a popsicle stick into the banana the long way and freeze them for an hour or two until theyre solid. You can even get fancy by dipping them in chocolate or, before you freeze them, rolling in coconut or pecans.
  5. Banana sauce Peel and mash the bananas and cook them on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to low and allow the liquid to cook off about 40 minutes, stirring so they dont burn. For every cup of bananas, add a teaspoon of lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Allow it to cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Use the sauce to add new life to toast, waffles, yogurt or ice cream.
  6. Easiest pancakes ever You can do more with bananas and pancakes then merely topping your pancakes with sliced bananas. They make the perfect two-ingredient pancakes. Yes, two ingredients. Mash one overripe banana until its smooth and add one egg plus two egg whites or egg replacement if you want a vegan option. Heat and grease a griddle or pan and drop the batter on. It will only take about 30 seconds on either side to get brown and cook through. In minutes, you have a healthy, easy and tasty breakfast that wont weigh you down.
  7. Banana granola Overripe bananas can be put to good use for a tasty and healthy granola. Mix oats, almonds and pumpkin seeds (or other nuts and seeds you like) with a pinch of sea salt. Then add a teaspoon of vanilla and about 3 Tbsp of oil. Coconut oil is one of the healthier options but you can use canola too.

For sweeter granola, add a little maple syrup or honey until it reaches a sweetness you like. Then drop in pieces of the overripe banana. Now its time to dig in with your hands and mix it all up until its combined and a bit clumpy. Spread it on a baking sheet and bake on 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes, moving it around after about 10 minutes. You can also dehydrate it for a raw delight.

So next time your bananas start turning brown, dont toss them, enjoy them!