In the Catbird Seat/Joe Kirkish

Take a look at what’s worthwhile about those self contained yellow bundles of rich flavor that come fresh from the jungles of Costa Rica or Ecuador and even have songs written about them. Here’s what the industry-sponsored center, The Banana Bunch, has to say about bananas:

penny-for-penny, pound-for-pound, they represent an excellent buy.

They provide outstanding nutrition a good source of essential vitamins, potassium and iron and a good dietary food, fat-free and no cholesterol.

Contrary to popular belief, they are moderate in calories with a 6″ banana running to only 85 calories.

They offer quick energy and have a high satiety value (just one results in a satisfying, full feeling).

The Banana Bunch continues: “America has a new love for natural foods, to be eaten as Nature grows them and wholesome, simple bananas were in this category long before it became fashionable. Many of the BANANA EASIES ( see below) will be adopted eagerly by natural food lovers for their wholesomeness, simplicity and good taste. Such eaters demand vitamins and minerals in natural form, as with bananas.”

What’s more, the banana offers more than one flavor because it has a different nuance of flavor when it’s cooked from when it is eaten “raw.” And some people have a distinct preference for the banana’s flavor at a certain stage of ripeness. But all one has to know in general is that a firm, green-tipped banana is best for broiling, baking or sauting, and the banana with all-yellow peel takes care of the many other ways that they can be served.

The banana is one of the few fruits that ripens best off the plant – cut while green, shipped under carefully controlled temperatures to keep them green, then ripened to mostly yellow in specially-designed ripening rooms in the United States.

The Banana Bunch suggests that you keep them at room temperature at home until they are a bright yellow, but despite general thought, they can also be stored in the refrigerator to slow down the ripening process. The peels will darken, but the fruit will remain delicious.

Another way to delay ripening too rapidly is to chip off one end of the banana, to allow the natural fruit gasses to escape.

And now – Banana Easies:

Bananas make mornings easier: When the kitchen is a bustle, with everyone trying to make it out the front door at once, try some of the following ideas for quick, easy, more nourishing fun:

BANANA CINNAMON TOAST – Slice a banana on a piece of buttered toast. Mix sugar with cinnamon & sprinkle over bananas. Broil for 2 minutes and serve hot.

BANANA MILKSHAKE – In a blender combine 3/4c milk, 1 ripe banana and 1/2t sugar. Blend until smooth.

BANANA EGGNOG In a blender combine 3/4c milk, 1 egg, 1 ripe banana and 1/2t each of sugar and vanilla. Blend until smooth.

BANANA PANCAKES Add 2c diced bananas to your favorite pancake batter and bake as usual.

BANANAS TOP OF THE MORNING Serve pancakes or waffles topped with diced bananas and your favorite syrup. Include other fresh fruit strawberries, blueberries, etc. for a royal mix. Great on French toast, too. And if you like, add cut up, mellow bananas to oatmeal, granola, or other hot or cold cereals.

SANDWICH EASIES a sliced banana with so many good sandwich fillers, starting with the simple peanut butter combination to peanut butter, sliced banana and bacon.

Then there’s a Danish favorite of an open faced sandwich made with salmon, sliced bananas and capers. Or added to a tuna salad sandwich.

Good, too, with ham, chicken or even shrimp.

A dieter’s dream is a delicious-tasting combo of cottage cheese, topped with sliced bananas – or even a cottage cheese & banana sandwich served on toasted date or raisin bread.

Luncheon meat sandwiches combine bologna, salami, etc., as great partners with bananas.

Sliced tomatoes, cucumbers or onions are great additions to all of the above.

How about making grilled sandwiches with most any of the above – a slice of ham on a slice of outside buttered bread, spread inside with peanut butter and top with sliced bananas. Add a second slice of bread with outside buttered and grill.

Also try grilling with banana, cheese and tomato. Or banana, cheese and bacon. Or banana with both.

And, finally, there’s a tasty salad addition to cole slaw, tossed greens, chicken or seafood salads.

Go ahead: experiment! And even the kids will enjoy it.

Rotten Tomatoes averages: “This is the End,” B-; “Man of Steel,” C+; “Now You See Me,” C-