Avocado and Berry Smoothie: Banana-less Smoothie, Take 1

by Gena on March 13, 2012

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I’ve spent a lot of time making, enjoying, and posting recipes for smoothies in the four years I have been writing CR. Smoothies are everyday currency in the raw and vegan communities, and green smoothies have more value than most. They can be simple or complex, filling meals or light snacks, savory or sweet, icy or smooth. There’s no limit to the combinations of fruits, liquid bases, proteins, fats, and spices you can add to a smoothie. It’s this variety that makes them most exciting; as Jasmin recently pointed out over dinner, half the fun of having a smoothie for breakfast is finding a unique combination of flavors and ingredients that suits one’s mood.

That said, I’m kind of a slouch when it comes to the variety part of smoothie making. All of my smoothies are nutrient dense, and (I daresay) delicious, but they tend to follow the same template:

  1. 1 banana
  2. 1/2 – 1 cup other fruit
  3. Fat source (nuts, nut butter, avocado, seeds)
  4. Protein source (usually hemp or rice protein, or a scoop of Vega; sometimes hemp seeds)
  5. 1 – 1 1/2 cups almond milk or coconut water

The true common denominator here is the banana—it makes an appearance in nearly every single one of my smoothie recipes (no shock there—apples and bananas are my favorite fruits). And thus it is ironic that the single modification I’m most often asked to make to my smoothies is to find a substitute for banana. I had no idea—though apparently I should have—that banana allergies and sensitivities are incredibly common! And beyond that, some people don’t love the taste of banana, or they’re following lower-sugar or candida diets, in which case bananas are often discouraged.

After months of emails and comments asking for banana free smoothies, I am finally obliging. This is the only smoothie aside from my cherry vanilla smoothie that I’ve ever made without banana. Fortunately, this is also an instance where catering to my readers ended up working out in my favor! I didn’t miss the banana in this creamy, smooth concoction at all. Instead, I was blown away by the perfect marriage of sweet-tart berries and creamy avocado, with a little hempseed thrown in for extra healthy fat and protein. This is sure to be one of my favorite new breakfasts, and I thank you, CR readers, for inspiring it!

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Avocado Berry Smoothie (raw, vegan, gluten free, soy free)

Serves 1

1/2 cup strawberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 small avocado
1 tbsp hemp seeds
1 handful spinach
1 1/3 cup almond milk (or coconut water)

Blend all ingredients till smooth, and serve.

Observe, creamy bliss:

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Chef’s note: if you like your smoothies a little frosty, use frozen berries. If you (like me) tend to get really chilly from frosty blended drinks, try using fresh fruit instead of frozen; it’s a nice option for smoothies in the wintertime!

Between the avocado, hemp seed, spinach, and berries, this smoothie delivers incredible antioxidant and fatty acid power first thing in the morning, along with some natural sugars to get you moving! If you’d like an added dose of protein, use hemp or rice or pea protein as a boost.

I suspect that this will be the first of many banana-less smoothie forays; as yesterday’s post goes to show, it’s fun to think outside the lines!

What’s your favorite non-banana smoothie? How do you like to prepare it?

Till tmw!

xo

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{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

janet @ the taste space March 13, 2012 at 8:50 pm

I recently made your Lime-in-the-Coconut smoothie and it was great (and banana free!). I tend to have your same guidelines for smoothies, though… and I love banana-less alternatives. :)

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Gena March 13, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Forgot the lime in the coconut!

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table March 13, 2012 at 8:52 pm

I am a smoothie junkie… so much so that I’m drinking one right now. While wearing a Snuggie because it’s COLD.

My favorite thing to put in smoothies is sweet potato. Liquid pie = awesome. I also love using butternut squash in them too. I do a black-cherry butternut shake that was even approved of by a “normal” eater. ;)

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Pam March 14, 2012 at 8:56 am

I love sweet potatoes! Can u send me recipe for Black-Cherry butternut or liquid pie please? I bought a vita mix blender last year and it’s the only way I can get my 12 yr old to eat veggies.
Thanks,
Pam
pamgschwartz@yahoo.com

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Hannah March 13, 2012 at 9:01 pm

When I was little, my mom would make avocado smoothies and I would just wince at her and be like, “What?!” but now I see the appeal. I’m hoping the berries mask the avocado, though, right?

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Gena March 13, 2012 at 10:00 pm

They do! You really don’t taste it, esp. with almond milk, too.

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kate March 11, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Oh, GOOD. I detest the taste of avocados, BUT I know they are good for my liver, skin and have MUFAs, so have been trying to find smoothie recipies that will HIDE the taste of them :-)
kate

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Katie @ Serenity in the Storm March 13, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Non-banana smoothies–that’s a challenge. Almost every smoothie I make has banana in it. Though I do like to make a dessert smoothie sometimes that’s avocado, coconut milk, ice and agave.

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Maryea @ Happy Healthy Mama March 13, 2012 at 9:26 pm

I was just thinking I need to cut back on bananas because I tend to over-rely on them to sweeten so many different things (oatmeal, smoothies, cookies, etc etc.) Thanks for inspiring me to branch out and make a banana-less smoothie.

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Lida March 13, 2012 at 9:44 pm

No banana smoothies…
there’s a health food store near me that makes an “omegacado” shake: 1 whole avocado, almond milk, and optional flaxseed/honey. amazing.
I also make my own oatmeal smoothies. I cook the oatmeal before hand (with or without banana) and refrigerate it overnight. Then I blend it the next day with cinnamon, soy or almond milk, and a pinch of sea salt. If I didn’t use banana, I’ll eat it with a spoon and some fresh blueberries stirred in.

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Dena @ 40 Fit in the Mitt March 13, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Pumpkin pie smoothies! Oatmeal and pumpkin puree with coconut milk and cinnamon.

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Hannah March 13, 2012 at 10:04 pm

I was making smoothies without banana for months and months following the cyclones in Queensland, which meant that bananas were costing $3.50 each (at least) for almost a year. I never used avocado, actually! Lots of frozen pineapple, mango, cherries…. Love the idea of hemp seeds too, as I just managed to procure them here despite the fact that they’re, um, illegal to eat in Australia.

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Simone March 14, 2012 at 8:49 am

Hey Hannah, I live in WA and it’s only been recently that we could actually buy hemp seeds and i am totally confused by the message on all the packets that say “not for human consumption in australia or NZ” the laws are a bit dumb if you are allowed to sell them but not eat them – what else are people going to do with them, you can’t grow them at this point!? lol i read somewhere that the law doesn’t allow the consumption of them because people will get confused between hemp for eating and marijuana…odd

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kate March 11, 2013 at 9:23 pm

Man, I live in MA where it’s legal to have enough pot on you for your own consumption (read: not enough to deal), but you can be charged a 100 dollar fine. Kind of weird law! Most recently (Nov election), we are now getting medicinal marijuana – which is a joke and a disaster waiting to happen, with the pot shops, just like California…………….
sigh..

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Ashley March 13, 2012 at 10:37 pm

I have avocados + berries + I’m about to have a smoothie! ;)

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Averie @ Averie Cooks March 13, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Looks lovely and it’s nice to mix it up and go sans bananas sometimes.

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Ela March 13, 2012 at 10:58 pm

Oh, yum! Avo and berries is an amazing smoothie combo.

I’ve been unable to eat bananas for a few months, having practically lived on them at many stages in my life, so all my smoothies have been banana based. I like them thick, and since I’m avoiding anything dense right now, that tends to mean xanthan gum or irish moss gel or agar gel. My favorite recent smoothies have featured vanilla, cacao (even though I’m not supposed to, it’s one of the few things I can feel like eating atm), spinach, frozen peas, stevia and a little bit of nut milk + water.
love
Ela

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bitt March 14, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Ela is the master of low glycemic smoothies!!

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Anna March 13, 2012 at 11:25 pm

Thanks for posting this! I absolutely hate bananas in smoothies, I think it ruins the whole taste! Whenever I’m at Whole Foods I’m tempted to pick up a Naked smoothie drink but have to read every ingredient to see if there’s “hidden” banana in it. It won’t be advertised on the front as a featured fruit for the combo but it’s in almost every smoothie they make!

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Laura@keepinghealthygettingstylish March 14, 2012 at 5:08 am

I love avocado in my smoothies, I tend to freeze half of one every so often just to save for that. It might sound weird but I also really find that zucchini adds a lot of creaminess! I love snack size smoothies made with spinach, a scoop of vanilla sun warrior, zucchini and ice. I sometimes add a few spices as well. Pear and fresh ginger is another favourite combo at the moment.

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Gena March 14, 2012 at 8:14 am

I love ginger pear smoothies, but have only ever done them with banana. Hmmmm…. :)

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Alexia @ NamasteYoga March 14, 2012 at 5:25 am

perfect timing! i have about half an avocado, some strawberries and blueberries left in my fridge. just enough to make this smoothie! :) i have been on a smoothie kick the last week, couldnt have a breakfast without one. i usually stick to my green smoothie (banana, mylk, hemp protein, pear, cinnamon, wheatgrass, maca). have u ever tried to put maca or lucuma in your smoothies?

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Gena March 14, 2012 at 8:14 am

I love the taste of lucuma, but not maca (and I’ve yet to be persuaded of the health claims for the latter). That said, I bet they’d work nicely here!

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Magda March 19, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Hi Gena,

FIrst of all, let me say thank you for this smoothie. I made it this morning and it was the perfect thing to soothe my upset stomach. I didn’t have almond milk so I just used more hemp seeds and water to make hemp milk. I also subbed romaine lettuce for spinach since that was what I had on hand. And added vanilla – yum. It was thick, creamy and delicious. It was so good, I just made a second one for lunch! LOL!

But also, I wanted to respond and say how wonderful maca is. I’m sure this won’t persuade you from a scientific perspective, but hopefully it will be one more personal story for you to consider. Maca has been phenomenal in helping me balance my hormones – it has helped me conceive, helped bring my periods back when my baby was 7 months old and still 100% breastfed, and generally helped me feel balanced. I’ve struggled with hormonal imbalances for so long (due to long-term use of birth control pills/shots), that I know the symptoms when my hormones are off and taking maca helps relieve the symptoms and bring everything into balance. I am guessing that you, Gena, probably don’t have any hormonal imbalances so maybe you just don’t need it. However, if this resonates with any of your readers, I highly encourage the use of maca. Personally, I can’t praise it enough. Thanks again for the smoothie!

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Karen March 14, 2012 at 7:41 am

I love avocado in my smoothies, but have only added it to a green version…creamy!

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Simone March 14, 2012 at 8:43 am

i love that you posted about this because i really really loathe bananas – cannot stand them, the taste, smell, texture, everything – yuk! Sadly, most places that serve up green smoothies, or indeed any raw smoothie, use bananas. So i have tried out many bananaless options and pretty much have subbed in any ‘softer’ fruit. Having said that I have never thought of using avocados. If anyone is interested, these work well in replacing the banana texture and smoothness – honeydew melon or rockmelen (specially with raspberries!), kiwi fruit, pear (pear and raw cacao are a perfect match imo), mangoes mangoes mangoes are by far my fav :)

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Gena March 14, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Gracious! I love them so much, it’s hard to imagine. but I’m glad this recipe works for you!

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Lindsay March 14, 2012 at 8:49 am

Love this recipe! This is going on my list of “to make” – it will be perfect for when baby comes and nursing starts!

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Christina March 14, 2012 at 8:53 am

Love it! Thanks so much!! I’m one of those readers whose allergic/sensitive to bananas. I don’t miss them at all which is really nice, but I do miss the ease of a banana-based smoothie. Can’t wait to try this! We readers are so demanding aren’t we!?

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Gena March 14, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Ha! Hardly. Your demands are my new breakfast successes.

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Allison Allen March 14, 2012 at 9:06 am

I love smoothies – and the avocado berry smoothie sounds delicious. Thanks for posting!

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Sarah E. March 14, 2012 at 11:02 am

Sweet! My favorite b-less smoothie: frozen or fresh berries, almond milk, chia seeds, cacao powder, Vitamineral Green or another green powder, maca powder, few drops liquid stevia, or date(s) depending on desired sweetness/texture. ;)

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Jocelyn March 14, 2012 at 12:29 pm

I have never tried an avocado smoothie before and I love avocados. Just never thought of the combination I guess. This was absolutely delicious!! Thanks for sharing!

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Gena March 14, 2012 at 1:04 pm

You tasted it already?! Fantastic! I had it again for breakfast today :)

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Anastasia@healthymamainfo.com March 14, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Sounds like a great smoothie! Love the fact of banana-less :)

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JoLynn-dreaminitvegan March 14, 2012 at 12:54 pm

I’m so happy you shared this smoothie without bananas because I never know what to do when I don’t have them.

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Christine (The Raw Project) March 14, 2012 at 1:02 pm

This smoothis looks wonderful! I’ve actually never tried avocado in a smoothie and need to! I tend to be a creature of habit with my smoothies too always adding the same fruits and veggies.

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elizabeth March 14, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Mango’s my favorite banana substitute in green smoothies. But lucuma and coconut butter will add enough heft to your nut milk that you can make a creamy berry smoothie sans banana or mango. Goji berries will also add a lot of thickness. And while it’s not “creamy,” I adore Sarma’s cilantro green shake, which has neither mango nor banana (cilantro, cucumber, grapefruit, frozen pinapple are the main ingredients).

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bitt March 14, 2012 at 3:16 pm

I felt so touched by this being in a banana-free home right now. My husband is one of those freaky allergic to banana types and I have candida so I must avoid for now. I have a feeling I will be introducing berries into the mix before bananas, so this is smoothies will be one to try for sure. I have been warned not to use too much avocado in a smoothie, have you noticed there is a limit to the amount that works? Another good banana substitute is young coconut although much more expensive.

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Toby March 14, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Thank you for this! I probably commented before that I’d love to see more banana free smoothies as I cannot tolerate eating it. Banana based smoothies were a mainstay in my diet last year until they started making me sick.

Great ideas here in the comments too – I’ll be noting them down.

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Zoe March 14, 2012 at 5:25 pm

I am really in to smoothies now I have bought a Vita Mix. I will try this one as it loos wonderful. Thanks.

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BroccoliHut March 14, 2012 at 5:45 pm

I tend to favor bananas in my smoothie-making too, as they add such creaminess to the mix! However, occasionally I do branch out. Lately, I’ve been really liking a mix of strawberries and cherries.

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Carrie (Carrie on Vegan) March 14, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Love, love, love the look of this banana-free smoothie! I am also majorly addicted to using bananas in my smoothies, but I occasionally try to make a banana-free version just to give my monkey-tendencies a break. Here’s my fave version that uses collard greens (tastes better than it sounds):
http://www.carrieonvegan.com/2012/01/08/collard-green-smoothie/

Thanks for another amazing recipe, Gena!

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Stephanie March 14, 2012 at 11:46 pm

I love bananas in my smoothies too, but man, I can almost taste this one, and it’s good :) Great work!!

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moonweaver March 15, 2012 at 3:42 am

banana smooth the taste down. I do not use it that much, but maybe I should :-) I am on day 11 of my nutritional feasting marathone. experimenting with MSM to have strong nails and nice skin.

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sarah March 15, 2012 at 10:57 am

Thank you!! I’m a banana allergy sufferer and really miss smoothies and dram of those easy banana ice cream treats!

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Nada (One Arab Vegan) March 15, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Bananas are pretty much mandatory for me at breakfast so I can’t really fathom the idea of a banana-less smoothie, but I’ll take your word for it!

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Kaitlyn@TheTieDyeFiles March 15, 2012 at 6:24 pm

I came to smoothies through banana soft serve, and I honestly don’t think I’ve ever made a banana-less one! I suppose I’ll have to get creative. I like a challenge!

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the delicate place March 16, 2012 at 1:37 pm

yum! i’ve been leaning towards the avocado based smoothie for the creamy texture (i’ve noticed that xanthan gum is slightly irritating my gi) so this helps a lot! bananas are hit and miss for me, i hate the smell but don’t mind them so much in blended form. i love gingerbread smoothies with avo, molasses & fresh ginger root!

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Janna at Joy of Smoothies March 18, 2012 at 2:31 pm

I agree with you…I LOVE bananas and they find their way into almost all my smoothies.

But sometimes I go a bit overboard, adding 2, 3, even 4 bananas to one smoothie. and it tends to overpower the entire recipe and make all smoothies taste kind of the same.

I have also been experimenting with banana less smoothies. I think avocado can be a great substitute as it has a similar creaminess and texture as bananas. Most people wouldn’t think it tastes good in smoothies but it actually does! It’s a good way to add variety to smoothies.

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Tt in nyc March 18, 2012 at 10:35 pm

I actually really dislike bananas! Every few months i try to like them again, but not yet- and i eat allllll fruits and veggies- anyways, everytime i use a recipe with banana or frozen banana i swap in frozen mango, it works great! Im in love with the cheap bags at trader joes already prepped, super easy and potentially cheaper than fresh

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Kasandra March 19, 2012 at 8:57 pm

I looove bananas! That’s why this banana-less smoothie thing is quite the challenge! I’m experimenting with an anti-candida diet, at least for now and I’ve been jonesing for the creamy texture of a frozen banana to fill out, fortify, and sweeten up my smoothies. So far I’ve used instead:

Avocado
Almond butter
Extra Ice :(

But I like the idea of Coconut butter—I will have to try that! I’ve also had to add a bit of stevia to sweeten things up a little.. though it does feel kind of like cheating ;)

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Anastasia March 19, 2012 at 10:19 pm

You got me thinking… I don’t have one! I have been putting bananas in all smoothies on autopilot, pretty much. I’ll try something different tomorrow.

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Kristen March 23, 2012 at 1:12 pm

I love this! Thanks for the banana free variation :)

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Kait March 28, 2012 at 11:15 pm

This looks AMAZING and you’ve made it look pretty too! I’m super impressed. ;)

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fleur May 1, 2012 at 1:41 am

I just made this last week, but substituted mango for the berries (and omitted the greens) added 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast and few drops stevia.
I know, weird but really good! sweet n salty is my middle name ;)

also, I often use frozen young coconut instead of banana for creaminess, lovely with tropical fruits like pineapple, mango, and also with berries. everything tastes good with berries!

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sophie July 30, 2012 at 5:32 pm

is this enough for a breakfast? (i exercise 30-60 mins daily)

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