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    Ask The Chef: Banana Replacements

    By Julie Morris, Superfood Chef | November 17, 2012

    Question:

    I am trying to find a banana replacement for my smoothies. I love the taste, but hate the sugar content. Is there another fruit that would be better for me that I could use, but still add flavor??
    -Lynn Stevens

    Answer:
    Bananas are certainly not without their health benefits: potassium, fiber, not to mention their great flavor, texture, and natural sweetness.Nonetheless, they are indeed a high-sugar fruit. If you're looking to create a sweet flavor and thick texture but lower the sugar, here are some great options to consider:

    Frozen Fruits: Just because it's a fruit doesn't mean it's high in sugar. Berries like blueberries or especially strawberries help cut the sugar content dramatically, and using them in their frozen form gives the smoothie a thicker texture like a banana would offer. Plus, berries usually have higher levels of vitamins and antioxidant activity.

    Steamed Vegetables: Who says you have to just use fruit? Steamed sweet potatoes, cooked carrots, cooked squash, and even sweet peas make surprisingly good smoothie additions, especially when combined with superfoods like cacao and/or maca. For best results, use sweeter vegetables like the ones mentioned above, steam until very soft, and prepare using no salt, oil, or added seasoning. Making a large batch so you have them on hand to use all week is a time-saving technique… and of course, always allow the vegetables to chill before using.

    Sweeten Smartly: Bananas add a lot of natural sweetness that is hard to fully replicate just using low sugar produce alone. Lucuma powder makes a sweet flavorful addition that can taste “fruity†without escalating sugar dramatically. Stevia -- especially liquid stevia -- is another way to not only sweeten smoothies, but extend the flavor without adding a single gram of sugar. (Due to its neutral flavor, stevia is best used in conjunction with one of the suggestions above and not used by itself.) A personal favorite is goji berry powder or berries, which can add flavorful sweetness in a very low sugar form, while adding over 20 vitamins and minerals at the same time! Talk about an upgrade!

    Have a superfood smoothie question of your own? Ask away! Just post it below and we may feature it in an upcoming segment of Ask The Chef.