Whether you’re looking for a green smoothie, an anti-inflammatory smoothie, or a protein-packed smoothie, most recipes out there tend to have one thing in common: banana. The fruit is a popular smoothie ingredient for a reason—it adds natural sweetness and creaminess to the final product, along with lots of nutrition.
“Bananas are rich in potassium, an important mineral that regulates fluid balance and muscle contractions, and intake is important to support a healthy blood pressure,” says Kelly Jones, RD. Plus, bananas provide fiber, which can benefit gut health and keep you fuller longer. “Additionally, as bananas ripen they also become more rich in antioxidants,” she adds.
However, if you happen to be one of the many people out there who find the taste of banana overpowering (just take this Reddit thread as proof), rest assured that it’s not the only ingredient that can ensure a delicious, creamy smoothie. There are quite a few healthy substitutes for banana in smoothies that deliver on texture without making every sip taste like a yellow Laffy Taffy. (You know the ones.) You’ll thank me later.
Keep reading for 5 excellent substitutes for banana in smoothies that add all the creaminess with zero aftertaste:
1. Riced cauliflower
“Frozen riced cauliflower blends easily even if you don’t have a high powered blender and has a mild flavor to help make your smoothie nice and smooth,” Jones says. (You can also use frozen cauliflower florets, but they may not blend as well.) “[Riced cauliflower is] great for berry smoothies with a dash of vanilla extract,” she suggests.
Try it: Cinnamon toast crunch smoothie
2. Frozen butternut squash
Squash is in season for fall but you can use frozen squash anytime. “Frozen butternut squash is a go-to for me to make smoothies [creamier] and to get an extra vegetable into my toddler’s diet,” Jones says. It also provides potassium and antioxidant carotenoids to support the immune system.
“While I typically purchase frozen, if you happen to have peeled, cubed, and baked a whole squash, you can freeze leftovers for your next smoothie,” she adds. For a fall smoothie, blend with apples and cinnamon.
3. Frozen mango or peach
“Frozen mango and peaches offer a more subtle taste while offering sweetness like bananas, do, all while also providing the smooth texture you crave,” Jones says. These may be your best bets for green smoothies with kale and herbs since they add a sweet flavor, but you can use the fruits for other smoothies that are more fruity or tropical or use protein powder and nut butter. “If you freeze your own fruit, be sure to peel the mango first, but peach skin is soft enough that it should blend well,” she adds.
“Avocado adds a creamy texture with a mild flavor along with satiating healthy fats, which oftentimes smoothies are missing,” says Jones. You can purchase bagged frozen avocado, or peel and de-seed fresh avocado before freezing in a sealed bag or container. Adding avocado to any smoothie of your choice works due to the mild flavor; pairing the fruit with chocolate is especially delicious.
Try it: Kelly LeVeque’s “spa smoothie”
This might be one of the more surprising substitutes for banana in smoothies, but trust us: It’s pretty legit. “If using zucchini in smoothies, you definitely want to peel the zucchini first and then halved lengthwise before deseeding as the seeds will inhibit the ability to get as smooth of a texture as you’re looking for,” says Jones. As with the other ingredients, freeze before using so you don’t have to add ice (which can negatively affect the smoothie’s final texture). Pair the zucchini with blueberries for some fruity flavor, as well as hemp or chia seeds, a protein powder of choice, and some almond milk, and you’ve got an awesome (and banana-free) breakfast ready to go.
Try it: Dr. Mark Hyman’s morning smoothie
Looking for more ways to jazz up your smoothies? Try this no-fail formula from an herbalist:
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