Looking for a recipe for a smoothie bowl without banana? Look no further. The secret to making a creamy smoothie bowl that is low in sugar is to use frozen cauliflower as the base. The berries add a low glycemic index sweetness that allows for the addition of some sneaky greens.
Why banana-free? Many of us are becoming more and more conscious about eating locally and sustainably. Alongside coffee, chocolate, and olive oil, another consumable that we often forfeit our food miles for is the good-ol banana. For us who live in North America, bananas will travel long distances to reach our grocery store shelves. I love smoothies and smoothie bowls, and I recognize that bananas offer a certain creaminess, thickness and natural sweetness that is difficult to replace. I created this Berry Cauliflower and Greens Smoothie Bowl Without Banana with that in mind. Turns out frozen cauliflower is the perfect stand-in for banana, and offers a low-sugar and low-carb alternative. The addition of spinach and zucchini really ramp up the nutritional quality of this smoothie bowl (veggies at breakfast!).
“Cauliflower, alongside other cruciferous vegetables, is high in phytonutrients carotenoids and flavonoids, as well as glucosinolates which are virtually exclusive to this group. Glucosinolates have been strongly associated with reducing cancer risk.”
We eat more bananas than any other fruit, more than apples and oranges combined. Bananas are most known in the nutrition world for their high potassium content with 420mg per medium fruit. Unfortunately, the Cavendish variety, which is often the only one we have access to in the grocery store, is lower in overall antioxidant value than almost all other fruit in the grocery store, except for melons, papaya, and pineapple (1).
Glycemic Index of Bananas
Glycemic Index is a rating of how quickly a food will break down into sugar. Bananas are technically a medium glycemic index fruit meaning it will have a moderate effect on our blood sugar levels. When we dig a bit deeper we can see that bananas actually have a high glycemic load of 12, meaning that their higher carbohydrate content in relation to size will spike our blood sugars more than say the same weight of strawberries, which have a glycemic load of 1.
Where Do Bananas Grow?
The majority of the bananas we have in our grocery stores come from Central America. Increased awareness of poor working conditions and enviornmental standards of the Banana Industry has increased consumer awareness of purchasing organic bananas. Organic and Fair Trade bananas ensure fair wages for farmers, and cuts down on herbicide use and reduces agricultural runoff in local waterways.
Nutrition In Cauliflower
On the other end of the spectrum is cauliflower. The phytonutrients glucosinolates in cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables are well studied and are known to provide a variety of health benefits. What they are most well known for is the research into their cancer-protective effect (2).
Phytonutrients in Cauliflower vs Broccoli
We can thank crucifers bitter taste to glucosinolates, the more bitter it is, the better it is for you. Kale and Brussel sprouts have more glucosinolates than cauliflower, and they are often also the least liked of all our fruits and vegetables. Broccoli and cauliflower contain similar amounts of glucosinolates.
How To Purchase and Store Cauliflower
When you are shopping for cauliflower, choose the freshest head you can find. It should have no spots, specks, bruises or traces of grey mold. Make sure the leaves are bright green (they are edible!) and cauliflower can be stored for up to a week in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator without compromising its flavour or nutritional value.
Maximising Nutrition in Califlowre
Aside from purchasing and storing cauliflower correctly, be sure to not overcook it. Cauliflower retains the most amounts of its nutrients when it is steamed for no more than 10 minutes, or sauteed. Boiling or blanching can destroy up to 40 percent of its cancer-fighting compounds (3,4).
Benefits of Low Carbohydrate Breakfast
Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar Levels
What I see often in my practice is clients having mostly carbs at breakfast – cereal, milk, fruit, toast, etc. A high carbohyrate load at breakfast contributes to high blood sugar levels, and the corresponding drop. Not only does this spike our insulin levels which is not helpful for our metabolism, but it also leaves us hungry by 10am and looking for another quick pick me up.
This bannaa-free smoothie bowl contains 21 grams total carbs, minus 6 grams of fibre – totalling 15 grams of net carbs.
Using Cauliflower in Smoothie Bowls
Even if you are not concerned with food-miles, cauliflower does have some other advantages over banana. Not only is it one of the best sources of the phytonutrients glucosinolates, it contains negligible amounts of carbohydrates meaning it will not cause any spikes in blood sugar levels.
Low Glycemic Index Berries
Berries offer a natural sweetness to this bowl, and because they are so high in fibre they have the least effect on blood sugars compared to most other fruits.
Adding Protein and Healthy Fat
Make sure you combine this meal with adequate protein and healthy fats for further blood sugar stabilization – I’ve added peanut butter and hemp hearts to this Berry Cauliflower and Greens Smoothie Bowl Without Banana. Give it a try, I promise you will LOVE it!
Notes On Making Smoothie Bowl Without Banana
Freshly vs Steamed vs Frozen Caulfilower
I’ve made this banana-free smoothie bowl using both fresh, steamed or frozen cauliflower. I find that frozen results in a more thicker consistency that is ofen aimed for with smoothie bowls. If you don’t have frozen cauliflower on hand that is fine. Use fresh or steamed cauliflower, and add less liquid, or add more frozen berries.
The greens are completely optional and I find that the taste is barely noticable. The zucchini adds to the thickness of the smoothie (best when frozen but fresh works as well). Kale can be used in place of spinach and I often encourage kale over spinach because of its absense of the calicum-binding oxalates (see post What Foods Are High In Calcium On A Plant-Based Diet). As this smoothie bowl does not contain a high amount of calcium, using spinach is fine. Spinach also offers a less bitter tastes than kale.
Want Some More Smoothie Bowl Recipes?
Try this gut health promoting Prebiotic Smoothie Bowl Recipe with Chickpeas or this anti-inflammatory Turmeric Golden Milk Smoothie Bowl. Or try this Kefir Chia Pudding or this Healing Breakfast Smoothie.
Did you make this Berry Cauliflower and Greens Smoothie Bowl Without Banana recipe? Please let me know how it turned out for you! Share it on Pinterest and leave a comment below. I would love it if you shared a picture of your recreation on Instagram so I can take a look, and be sure to tag me @theconsciousdietitian.
Berry Cauliflower and Greens Smoothie Bowl Without Banana [GF, Vegan]
- hemp hearts
- berries fresh or frozen
- granola (grain-free for low-carb)
- Add all the ingredients into a high-speed blender. I use a Vitamix. Blend until creamy and well incorporated.
- Divide the banana-free smoothie mix into two bowls. Top with homemade granola, fresh fruit, and additional hemp hearts.
Boost the Calcium: Try kale instead of spinach
Boost the Protein: Top with an additional 2 tbsp hemp hearts each serving for a total of 20 grams of protein
Eat Seasonal: Try blackberries instead of blueberries when they are in season.
Nutrition Analysis done with no-toppings for the smoothie bowl
1. Eating On The Wild Side (2013). Jo Robinson
2. Effects of cruciferous vegetables and their constituents on drug metabolizing enzymes involved in the bioactivation of DNA-reactive dietary carcinogens (2001). Mutation Research
3. Effects of some technological processes on glucosinolate content in cruciferous vegetables (2007). Food Chemistry
4. Processing (blanching, boiling, steaming) effects on the content of glucosinolates and antioxidant-related parameters in cauliflower (2009). Food Science and Technology
Rachel Dickens, The Conscious Dietitian, is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She graduated with her Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2010 from Griffith University. She strives to provide evidence-based nutrition information with a focus on plant-based nutrition, and share some of her favourite seasonal recipes and sustainable eating tips.