Wendy Ruopp

Bananas are one of the most commonly eaten fresh fruits: the average American consumes about 30 pounds of bananas per year! However, if you're like me, the enjoyment that comes from eating a perfectly ripe banana is rare-it seems that as soon as I get them home from the grocery store, they are already turning brown. If Americans are eating that many bananas a year, I don't even want to imagine how many pounds are being thrown away because we've let them go pass their prime.

Never waste a banana again! This fruit is actually pretty darned versatile and can star in everything from banana bread to more adventurous concoctions like banana-corn fritters. (And don't miss these 4 tricks for the best banana bread from the EatingWell Test Kitchen.)

Here are 5 easy recipes that will help you use up those bunches in a hurry.

Banana-Cocoa Soy Smoothie: With plenty of protein from both tofu and soymilk, this banana-split-inspired breakfast smoothie will keep you satisfied until lunchtime.

Frozen Chocolate Covered Bananas: Kids will love dipping bananas in melted chocolate and rolling them in coconut to make this tasty frozen treat.

Banana Corn Fritters: Savory, smoky and slightly sweet, these are great with roast pork loin, a hearty bowl of black bean soup or barbecued chicken legs and coleslaw. Dotted with crème fraîche, they make an exotic appetizer.

Banana Cream Layer Cake: Here we layer delicate banana-buttermilk cake with a fluffy Bavarian-style cream that's made low-fat by combining nonfat milk with a reasonable amount of whipping cream. The rich taste makes it hard to believe that this cake has only 300 calories and 3 grams of saturated fat per slice.

Banana-Nut-Chocolate Chip Quick Bread: This banana quick bread is full of chocolate chips and toasted heart-healthy walnuts so you get a taste of nuts and chocolate in each bite. This version reduces the fat substantially and uses nonfat buttermilk to make a banana bread that's extremely moist and tender.