Green smoothies are an ideal way to start your morning, not to mention, a great way to “sneak in”
some extra veggies into your day.
But most of us feel the need to add in bananas to mask the taste of the greens in our smoothie and/or to give the smoothie a creamy, soft texture. At first, I never thought i could I could make a smoothie without some banana! The problem is that bananas – while delicious and containing many great nutrients including gut-healthy prebiotics - are pretty high in carbs and sugar, and not the best for me (given my particular health/body which can easily get blood sugar lows).
And if you’re aiming for hormonal balance and/or weight loss, it may be time to start watching your banana (and overall fruit) intake, too.
After years of making smoothies for myself almost daily, I’ve come up with my favorite smoothie recipes (which I often make into a smoothie bowl that resembles gelato!) where I use ZUCCHINI instead of banana.
Zucchinis are a type of summer squash (also known as courgettes) that are low in calories and glycemic value, yet high in fiber and water content. They’re also packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals including B vitamins like folate, vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus.
Adding zucchini to your smoothie will give it a super creamy, smooth texture without altering the taste (has no harsh “green flavor” like other greens do) and of course, boosts the fiber and decreases the sugar (vs. using bananas).
And NOTE, bananas in small quantities are not bad for you at all (they have many nutrients and gut-healthy prebiotics). But many of the smoothies and smoothie bowls nowadays are very high in carbs because they’re packed with fruit. They can be a sugar bomb, which can lead to a sugar crash an hour or two later. So being mindful of your fruit portion is key.
I usually suggest only ¼ - 1 cup of fruit per smoothie (find the amount that is best for you) , aiming for low-glycemic fruit when possible, and always adding plenty of added fiber, protein, healthy fats and ideally veggies (primarily greens).
Here are a couple of TIPS for your next creamy zucchini green smoothie:
- Cut the zucchini into 1 -2 inch slices and freeze them for your smoothies
- Option to peel it if the zucchini isn’t organic (and it helps limit the lectins)
- If you’re not ready to fully cut out the bananas, replace ½ the banana with zucchini
- Add a serving of vegan protein powder - which makes it a complete metabolism-boosting meal but also adds the sweetness and flavor that makes the banana unnecessary (I like to alternate between vanilla and chocolate flavored protein, and always choose a high quality vegan powder without added unnecessary fillers/preservatives).
- Try adding flavor-enhancing and digestion-boosting spices such as ginger and cinnamon, and extra superfoods such as: spirulina and/or chlorella (or a powdered green superfood mix) and adaptogenic herbs like maca and/or ashwagandha.
- For even more creaminess, add 2-3 tablespoons of healthy fats such as: avocado flesh, coconut meat, cashews or almond butter (I suggest choosing only 1 of these, or the calories and fats will pile up quickly!)
And now i’ll share one of my staple banana-free green smoothies (which i often make into a smoothie bowl with some delicious superfood toppings).
Creamiest Low-Glycemic Berry Green Smoothie – banana free
Ingredients (serves 1 - 1.5):
· ½ zucchini, preferably frozen (or about 4 – 5 one-inch slices)
· ¼ cup frozen blueberries + ¼ cup frozen strawberries
· Small handful of spinach or kale leaves (if using frozen, ¼ cup is plenty)
· 1 tablespoon raw cashews
· 2 tablespoons soaked chia seeds (aka chia pudding)
· 1 - 2 cm piece of peeled fresh ginger
· ½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
· 1 cup coconut water , aproximately *add more water for a smoothie or bit less for a smoothie bowl
· ½ - 1 serving of your favorite “clean” vegan protein powder (ex. Aloha, AmazingGrass, SunWarrior, Navitas,…) *opt for organic, no soy, no whey, no preservatives
· Optional: ½ tsp maca or other adaptogen
· Optional: ½ teaspoon spirulina or chlorella or 1 tbsp powdered superfood greens
Instructions: Add all the ingredients into your blender and blend until smooth. Taste it and adjust as needed. Option to serve as a bowl and top off with extra berries, seeds, chopped nuts and/or shredded coconut
If you want more delicious zucchini-based smoothies or smoothie bowls, let me know!
(Ps- i’ve also discovered that adding frozen cauliflower has a similar effect; stay tuned for the upcoming recipe!)
For more tips on green smoothies, go HERE.