If you’re a green smoothie aficionado, or even if you’re just beginning, adding a frozen banana is one of the best “tricks” to increase the creaminess factor of your drink.
But what if you don’t like bananas, or just don’t want to add that kind of extra sugar? We’ve got you covered!
It turns out that there are lots of natural substitutes for bananas, and many of them won’t add any extra sugar. Plus, all of these options add a perfect dose of creaminess, and have their own incredible health benefits.
Natural Substitutes For Bananas In Smoothies
Avocados are often added to healthy desserts like puddings or brownies to make the batter extra creamy, and they do the same thing for green smoothies! Additionally, because avocados have a light, delicate taste, they won’t alter the other flavors in your drink.
Classified as a stone fruit, avocados are full of vitamin K (which is essential for strong bones), folate, fiber, beta-carotene, and Omega-3 fatty acids. They’ve been scientifically studied for both their ability to lower bad cholesterol, and for their possible cancer-fighting properties.
And yes, avocados to contain a good amount of fat, but the fat they contain is the monounsaturated kind, which is necessary for everything from increasing a feeling of satiation, to processing sugar, to cellular health.
Cutting up your avocado and freezing the chunks in baggies before blending is the perfect way to an ice cream / milkshake-like effect.
Nuts / Nut Butter
Every time you blend up nuts with water in your green smoothie, you’re essentially making natural nut milk! Like avocados, nuts are full of healthy, monounsaturated fat, and add an earthy, delicate flavor when combined into vegetable-heavy green smoothies.
For one, 24-ounce green smoothie, we recommend using around three tablespoons of nuts. For non high-powered blenders, soaking the nuts overnight in water helps them blend up super quick and easy.
In addition to their high fiber and vitamin E (which is great for the completion) content, regular consumption of unprocessed nuts has been connected to lowered cholesterol.
Making you own almond milk at home to replace bananas works too!
Because pears are so common, they’re often overlooked, but if you want to sweeten up your green smoothie naturally, as well as add a nice, creamy texture, ripe pears are a great option. The reason they’re so good at adding creaminess is because of their soft, delicate flesh, their high amount of pectin, which is a water soluble fiber that is also known to thicken up liquids.
Vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium and antioxidants are all packed into one sweet pear, so in addition to adding texture, pears are also great for turning your smoothie into an immune-boosting powerhouse.
To help your pears ripen quickly, keep them on the counter, or even in a paper bag, for a few days.
Looking for a way to naturally sweeten a really green smoothie, while also making it thicker? Pineapple (specifically pineapple chunks that have been frozen), provides a fantastic consistency, while also adding more vitamin C to your drink than almost any other fruit.
Pineapple is also rich in potassium, beta-carotene and bromelain, an enzyme that reduces inflammation and swelling.
Cutting up a half to a whole cup of pineapple, and then sticking the chunks in the freezer is the best way to turn your smoothie into something resembling those famous Dole Whips from Disney World!
Like nuts, hemp seeds provide a delicate creaminess without adding any additional sugar.
These little seeds are a “perfect protein” (they not only contain 20 animo acids, but nine essential amino acids our bodies don’t produce on their own), as well as a great source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Hemp seeds are also rich in iron, calcium and magnesium.
Two additional benefits of regular hemp seed consumption are lowered inflammation in the body and healthier hair, skin and nails.
For one, 24-ounce smoothie, we recommend adding one to two tablespoons of hemp seeds.
Adding coconut cream to increase the creaminess of your smoothie should be a no brainer, especially considering it’s often used to make dairy-free whipped cream for desserts.
Rich in B vitamins, vitamin C and vitamin E, coconut cream also has healthy fatty acids, and may help protect your body’s immune system via its lauric acid content.
When buying coconut cream, make sure to buy an organic brand without any additional sugar or chemicals added. Two tablespoons of coconut cream is a great serving for one, 24-ounce smoothie.
Since oatmeal is usually creamy, it makes perfect sense that adding a few tablespoons of oats would be a great way to thicken up your green smoothie.
Rich in manganese, zinc and soluble fiber, rolled oats have long been connected to a lowered rate of heart disease. They also help with a feeling of fullness, and are a great way to make a green smoothie more of a meal replacement.
Adding about three tablespoons to one, 24-ounce smoothie is the perfect way to create a rich, creamy consistency.
One of the most nutritionally-dense foods on the planet, chia seeds have a load of health benefits. They also “sprout” when you soak them in water for a few minutes, turning gelatinous and creating an overall creamier smoothie.
Just a few of the health benefits of chia seeds include: Extremely high levels of antioxidants, extremely high amounts of fiber per serving, helpful at lowering inflammation in the body while boosting metabolism and energy, and a great natural source of calcium.
Pouring one to two tablespoons of chia seeds into a small glass and letting them soak for a few minutes before adding them to your green smoothie will help them “sprout.”
A staple food in many a vegan‘s diet, tofu is made from soy, and often comes in soft white blocks. A great source of natural protein containing all the essential amino acids, tofu is also rich in copper, magnesium and zinc.
Regular consumption of soy has been connection to lowered cholesterol, and is sometimes recommended for women dealing with menopausal symptoms because of its phytoestrogen content.
When using soy, make sure to buy an organic, non-GMO brand, and use it in small quantities until you’re certain that it works with your specific digestive system.
If dairy isn’t a problem for you, yogurt is a great way to increase not only the creaminess factor of your smoothie, but also the protein. You’ll be getting a healthy serving of probiotics as well, which are incredibly important to a healthy digestive tract.
And because you’re only using it to add depth, a non-fat, unflavored kind will work perfectly, meaning you don’t have to deal with all the sugar or fat that comes with more “flavorful” options.
A healthy serving for one, 24-ounce green smoothie would be about one-fourth to a half cup of yogurt.