The vast majority of green smoothie recipes call for bananas because they provide the perfect creaminess, texture and natural sweetener. But what if you don’t like banana? Whether it’s the flavor, the high glycemic index or if you’re cutting hybrid fruit out of your diet, here are some tips for making vegan green smoothies without banana.
Choose A Different Base Fruit
Bananas aren’t the only fruit that provide a creamy smoothie texture. Any fruit that is not water-rich (like oranges or grapes) will make a creamy, flavorful smoothie. Try mangoes, peaches, nectarines, papaya, pear, apple and even durian. (Click on the above links for lots of non-banana smoothie recipes!)
Fresh young coconut works well with any fruit to add creaminess and texture to a smoothie. You can also thicken smoothies with avocado. Add up to 1/4 of an avocado to a smoothie recipes and you’ll get a smoothie that is as thick and creamy as any made with banana.
Here’s a few simple smoothie recipes that don’t call for banana either: Orange-Carrot-Ginger, Apple-Carrot-Ginger and this Calcium-Rich Orange-Kale smoothie. You can also try these other banana-free recipes.
Mask It With Flavor
The best thing about bananas are that they are always in season (unlike mangoes, peaches, nectarines, apples and pear). They are also readily available (unlike durian).
If you do not want to use bananas because of the flavor alone, try masking the banana flavor with strawberries, raspberries, peaches, pineapple, kiwi or other flavorful fruit.
Using spices like ginger or even chocolate (cacao) will turn a banana smoothie into a rich, dark chocolate smoothie. I have made lots of smoothies with banana that didn’t taste like a banana smoothie!
Should You Avoid Eating Bananas?
Okay, so I’m going to briefly defend bananas because they do get an undeserving bad rap.
Too Much Sugar (They’re Fattening): Bananas contain natural sugars that are totally different from table sugar or corn syrup. Unlike donuts and cookies, bananas will not make you fat. Yes, they contain fructose and carbohydrates, but they’re the good kind of carbs that help fuel your workouts. And the fructose in bananas won’t expand your waste line.
High Glycemic: The Glycemic Index was introduced in 1981 and was based on a study that measured how foods affect blood sugar response. It is true that bananas are “high glycemic” compared to other fruit, but they are no worse for you than pasta, rice, corn, bread, potato, broad beans and many other foods. High glycemic simply means that the food elevates your blood sugar quicker than other foods.
All foods raise your blood sugar and in healthy, non-diabetic people, this is not a reason for concern at all. In fact, if your overall diet is low in fat, the sugar in fruit isn’t a concern for you either. Foods should not be avoided by healthy people because an expert made a list of foods based on a study that raise blood sugar more than other foods. Sometimes you want to raise your blood sugar quickly, like after working out.
Hybrid Fruit: Sure, bananas are a hybrid fruit. They are missing seeds and cannot reproduce without human intervention. However, hybridization is not the same thing as genetic bio-engineering as is done with genetically modified foods or GMO’s.
There are no known health risks with eating hybrid fruit such as bananas, seedless watermelons, seedless grapes and navel oranges. In fact, hybrid fruits have been around for generations with no documented ill effects.
Bananas are highly nutritious but they aren’t necessary for making thick, creamy smoothies.
Tracy Russell is the creator of the Green Smoothie Weight Loss Program, the 30-Day Whole Foods Challenge and founder of Incredible Smoothies. She is passionate about helping people improve their health with green smoothies and a whole foods lifestyle.