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 the addition of spinach and zucchini really ramp up the nutritional quality of this smoothie bowl (veggies at breakfast!). You may be thinking this is pretty crazy and out there, but trust me and give it a try! Once you go banana-free, you will never go back.
“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 our fruit, except for melons, papaya, and pineapple (1). Bananas also have a high glycemic load of 12, meaning their higher carbohydrate level in relation to size will spike our blood sugars more than say the same weight of strawberries which has a glycemic load of 1.
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). 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.
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. 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).
Even if you are not concerned with food-miles, cauliflower does have some 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. This is an especially important point first thing in the morning, as what often happens after carbohydrate-heavy breakfast is a large spike in our sugar levels, followed by a drop, and then the 10 a.m. hunger. 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. Make sure you combine this meal with adequate protein 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!
Berry Cauliflower and Greens Smoothie Bowl Without Banana [GF, Vegan]
This Berry Cauliflower and Greens Smoothie Bowl Without Banana uses frozen cauliflower to offer a creamy consistency. The greens from zucchini and spinach are complimented by the frozen berries. This is a low glycemic index breakfast, meaning the low sugar content will not spike your blood sugar levels. Combine it with protein from peanut butter and hemp hearts for an all-around balanced meal, top with 2tbsp of additional hemp hearts for a total of 20g of protein!
- 1/2 cup frozen cauliflower steamed first*
- 1/2 cup frozen zucchini cut first*
- 1 cup frozen spinach loosely packed
- 1 cup frozen blueberries preferably wild
- 1 cup milk alternative organic soy, almond milk, coconut milk
- 2 tbsp peanut butter natural
- 3 tbsp hemp hearts
- 1 tsp cinnamon ground
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.
*Steam the cauliflower first, for a maximum of 10 minutes. Try steaming a large batch of it and storing it in the freezer. I also like to cut up and freeze zucchini chunks and loose spinach in a freezer bag for quick access in the morning. This recipe also works if the cauliflower has not been steamed, as well as if the zucchini has not been frozen. Use less milk alternative, or the consistency will be too runny.
Short on time? Try it with un-frozen raw cauliflower and zucchini. Add less milk alternative (about 3/4 cup) to keep the consistency of a smoothie bowl.
Try kale instead of spinach to boost up the calcium.
Try blackberries instead of blueberries when they are in season.
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