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14 Additions To Upgrade Banana-Based Smoothies

glass of banana smoothie and ingredients in bowls
glass of banana smoothie and ingredients in bowls - Static Media/Shutterstock

There's really no limit to what you can throw in the blender to make a perfect smoothie -- well, okay, maybe there are some limits, but when it comes to smoothie bases, very few foods can beat the classic banana. When blended, bananas help bring a thickness and natural sweetness to smoothies, and if those bananas happen to be frozen, then you're in for a delightfully creamy treat to boot. While we could praise the fruit all day long, we do have to acknowledge that there's a little more that goes into your blended beverage to make it what it is. Bananas make for a sturdy smoothie base, but the additions help round out the drink, make it taste even better, and perhaps add a little nutritional boost, too.

With so many smoothie ingredients out there, it can seem daunting to attempt something different, which is why so many people settle for sub-par smoothies. To make the smoothie enhancement task feel a little less overwhelming, we've compiled a list of the 14 best additions to upgrade your banana-based smoothie — some are as simple as a sprinkle of cinnamon, and others are more complex, like adding roasted bananas to the mix. They're suitable for transforming the flavor of your smoothie or bulking it up before you hit the gym.

Read more: 26 Coffee Hacks You Need To Know For A Better Cup

Oats

oats in gray bowl and wooden spoon
oats in gray bowl and wooden spoon - Carlosgaw/Getty Images

If you enjoy oats but the same old bowl of oatmeal is getting boring, consider incorporating them into your banana-based smoothie instead. The beauty of adding oats to smoothies is that you don't have to pre-cook or soak them before adding them to the blender — just dump them in and hit that blend button. The result is a heartier smoothie and notably thicker consistency that's still drinkable. Oats will also pack potential nutrients into your smoothie, with various vitamins, minerals, and carbs. If you often find yourself still feeling hungry after enjoying a typical smoothie, then oats are one of the easiest ways to bulk it up and help transform the beverage into a filling treat.

As for the taste, you will definitely be able to tell that there are oats in your smoothie, but it's a mild flavor that plays well with the fruity flavor of the banana. To ensure that you don't come across any oat chunks as you sip, blend your smoothie thoroughly for a smooth, oat-infused beverage.

Peanut Butter

peanut butter in jar against white background
peanut butter in jar against white background - Prostock-studio/Shutterstock

Move over, jelly. Banana is the true companion of peanut butter, and if you're doubtful, try adding a few tablespoons of peanut butter to your next banana smoothie. Trust us. You won't go back to peanut butter-less smoothies afterward because the ultra-rich, creamy, nutty ingredient pairs extraordinarily well with bananas. Ideal for those looking to bulk up the fat content of their smoothie, peanut butter will do just that while also possibly adding protein, carbs, and even a little fiber.

If peanut butter isn't your thing, or you just prefer other types of nut butter, you're in luck — just about any nut butter works well in a banana smoothie. We do stand firm on peanut butter and bananas being a true match made in heaven, but who says almond, walnut, or even cashew butter can't get in on the fun? They'll all add a distinct nutty flair that complements the banana flavor of the smoothie without overpowering it. And, if nuts are completely off the table due to an allergy or another reason, you can still enhance your beverage with sunflower seed butter.

Greek Yogurt

spoon and yogurt in glass jar on wooden board
spoon and yogurt in glass jar on wooden board - Olgalepeshkina/Getty Images

Thick, cool, and irresistibly creamy, yogurt is no stranger to smoothies, though you're missing out if you're not using Greek yogurt. Considerably thicker than your average yogurt, Greek yogurt will aid in thickening your smoothie, all while providing a creamy note that isn't too sweet or too overbearing in the background. The bananas provide plenty of sweetness to your smoothie all on their own, so plain, unsweetened Greek yogurt is a great option. Of course, if you want to add a little extra burst of flavor, then we can assure you that a strawberry or vanilla-flavored yogurt will work well in the smoothie, too.

The biggest perk to adding Greek yogurt to a smoothie is that it will likely give it a hefty protein boost --more so than regular yogurt would -- without affecting the flavor too much. The yogurt's creaminess and slight tang will only make your banana smoothie even more delicious.

Roasted Bananas

slices of caramelized bananas in pan
slices of caramelized bananas in pan - Istetiana/Getty Images

We already know that bananas are going into your banana-based smoothie, but have you given much thought to how you could switch things up with the classic fruit? Sure, the easiest way to get your smoothie going is to simply peel a banana and toss it into the blender or perhaps open your freezer and reach for some pre-frozen banana chunks. If you want to get creative, however, then you might want to consider adding roasted bananas to your smoothie for some added excitement.

Those familiar with bananas Foster may see where this idea is going. By roasting bananas in the oven or under the broiler, you'll end up caramelizing them, which provides a rich depth of flavor that a plain banana just can't compete with. Yes, roasting the fruit does require some extra effort and may transform your smoothie into more of a milkshake, but after just one sip, something tells us that you won't be complaining about the extra decadence.

Plant-Based Milks

milk jugs with various nuts on wooden surface
milk jugs with various nuts on wooden surface - Fcafotodigital/Getty Images

No smoothie is complete without some sort of liquid, and the good news is that it's pretty hard to go wrong with your liquid of choice. Many folks opt for dairy milk, seeing as it adds a creamy element to their smoothie, whereas others might add fruit juice or even just plain water in a pinch. If you're looking for a smoothie that is both creamy and vegan, then you'll want to go the plant-based milk route, and there's certainly no shortage of choices on that front, either.

Whether you're a soy milk enthusiast or an almond milk fan, we can happily assure you that both kinds of plant-based milk will work well in your banana smoothie. But why stop there? Other types of plant-based milk like coconut, oat, hemp seed, or even macadamia milk are all viable vegan alternatives.

If you feel overwhelmed by the sheer choice of plant-based options, stick with your favorite or whatever you keep stocked in the fridge. You can also decide on the type of milk based on the key flavor that you want to taste in the smoothie. Looking for something fruity and tropical? Go for coconut milk and add pineapple along with the banana for a refreshing treat. Or do you want something with a more nutty undertone? Almond milk is your best bet.

Chia Seeds

chia seeds with wooden spoon
chia seeds with wooden spoon - Vera Larina/Shutterstock

You may be most familiar with chia seeds in the context of pudding or overnight oats, but as it turns out, the tiny seeds make for a great banana smoothie, too. Though they won't really affect the taste of your smoothie, they will potentially amp up the nutritional value, increasing the beverage's calorie content, fiber, iron, zinc, and magnesium. One of the best things about chia seeds is that a little bit goes a long way, so it's a good idea to include them wherever possible.

If you don't have chia seeds on hand or aren't a fan of their slightly crunchy texture, then other seed alternatives may be more up to your speed. Hemp seeds or flaxseeds are the most comparable substitutes, both contributing their own slew of possible nutritional benefits without compromising how good your smoothie tastes -- that is the most important thing, after all.

Protein Powder

pile of protein powder with plastic scoop
pile of protein powder with plastic scoop - Vovashevchuk/Getty Images

While a medium-sized banana contains a little more than a gram of protein, you can inflate the smoothie's protein content with milk and additional ingredients like chia seeds. Still, a banana-based smoothie likely isn't the biggest source of protein you could find. If you're really serious about it, however, there's an easy solution, and that's to add protein powder. Now, there's no denying that flavored protein powder will affect the way your smoothie tastes, and it might alter the texture a little bit, but if you find a flavor you really enjoy, then neither of these qualms should be a huge issue. If you've ever attempted to add protein powder to a smoothie and ended up with a foamy mess, fear not — you can simply add the protein powder at the end of the blending process to avoid excess foam.

Now, the type or flavor of protein powder you're adding to the mix is really contingent on personal preference. A neutral flavor like vanilla will match nicely with the banana flavor in your drink, though bolder flavors like chocolate or peanut butter also pair well with banana and may make your smoothie a little more exciting on the palate.

Berries

hands holding assortment of berries
hands holding assortment of berries - Chris Ryan/Getty Images

Bananas are a type of berry, so it only makes sense that other berries might complement your banana-based smoothie. When in doubt, there's no way to go wrong by blending strawberries with bananas, seeing as the two fruits make for perhaps one of the most iconic smoothie combinations to ever exist. If strawberries aren't your thing, however, plenty of other berries are out there to fill the void. Blueberries will offer a nice mild flavor and some moisture to the smoothie, whereas more tart varieties like raspberries or blackberries will help cut through the smoothie's sweetness.

Another berry resort that may not initially come to mind is avocado — yes, avocados are not only a type of fruit but also a type of berry. And luckily for your smoothie, avocados are a type of berry that will provide a smooth, almost buttery contrast to the sweet banana. Thanks to avocados' high fat content, they'll also help bulk up your smoothie and help you feel full even once your berry-infused beverage is long gone.

Cinnamon

ground cinnamon, cinnamon sticks, and grater laid out
ground cinnamon, cinnamon sticks, and grater laid out - Fcafotodigital/Getty Images

Many of the additions on this list will not only enhance the flavor of your smoothie but also supposedly add nutrition -- something that is often considered a plus but not necessarily always. If you're looking for a way to influence the flavor of your smoothie without adding additional carbs, sugar, or calories, then cinnamon is your best option. Not only does cinnamon complement the banana flavor nicely, but it adds a certain warmth to a smoothie that no other ingredient can really duplicate. Moreover, it may even make your smoothie taste a touch sweeter without actually contributing extra sugar.

Aside from cinnamon, there are quite a few spices that will give your smoothie the perfect finishing touch. Fresh vanilla bean, cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg are all warming picks that will improve your smoothie. Whether you blend the spices directly into the smoothie or just top off your glass with a small sprinkle is up to whether you want an extra-spicy flavor profile or you want just a dash of warmth.

Coconut Cream

jar of coconut cream and coconut pieces
jar of coconut cream and coconut pieces - Veronica Fernandez/Getty Images

Sometimes, we just need a little extra delight in our banana smoothies, and when such a desire strikes, there's no ingredient better equipped for providing decadence than coconut cream. Thick, rich, and conveniently dairy-free, coconut cream is a great smoothie addition for those who love the flavor of coconut and can't get enough of it from coconut milk alone.

On the topic of coconut milk, it is important to note that coconut cream and milk are not the same thing, though you can make the former by separating it from the latter. Coconut cream is high in fat content, so it'll help add a certain richness to your smoothie that milk alone doesn't quite accomplish. For an ultra-coconutty banana smoothie, you can easily add both fresh coconut cream and a little bit of coconut milk to your blended beverage and maybe even throw in some shredded coconut to help add some texture amidst all that creamy goodness.

Honey Or Maple Syrup

honey dipper on top of jar of honey
honey dipper on top of jar of honey - Fcafotodigital/Getty Images

Though bananas are a sweet fruit all on their own, many people use additional sweeteners for their smoothies when the fruit alone isn't enough. Could you simply add plain granulated sugar and call it a day? Sure, but you'd run the risk of yielding a grainy smoothie; plus, there are so many more invigorating sweeteners out there, like honey, for example. Sweet, golden honey will add the perfect pop of sweetness to your banana smoothie without overdoing it. In addition, it'll fuse with the rest of the ingredients, so you won't have to worry about graininess as you would with plain sugar.

If honey is out of reach, you can also sweeten your smoothie with maple syrup, which you might prefer. Similar to honey, maple syrup will blend right into the smoothie and add a nice, subtle sweetness. An added bonus to maple syrup is that it will also provide a subtle maple flavor to the mix, something that fans of banana pancakes would probably appreciate.

Chocolate

cacao nibs in measuring cup on wooden surface
cacao nibs in measuring cup on wooden surface - Bigacis/Getty Images

We'd be remiss not to highlight the absolute ingredient combination delight that is bananas and chocolate, and fortunately, you can accomplish such a combo in smoothie form, too. There are a few ways to do so, and perhaps the most obvious way -- to a frequent baker, at least -- is to reach into your pantry and grab the cocoa powder. While cocoa powder won't add any sweetness to the smoothie, it will add a rich, deep chocolate undertone, and you can easily sweeten up the smoothie in other ways if you so desire.

If you want the best of both worlds — chocolate and sweetness — then reach for that bottle of chocolate syrup, which will easily transform your banana smoothie. The good thing about chocolate syrup is that it will mix right in, and you can add as much or as little as you'd like. Finally, if neither powder nor syrup tickles your fancy, cocoa nibs are the way to go. They will add a certain bitterness to the smoothie while still providing plenty of chocolatey goodness. To ensure that your smoothie isn't too bitter, you may want to pair cocoa nibs with syrup to create a nice bittersweet balance.

Spinach

pile of raw spinach
pile of raw spinach - Mohamed-Kareem Mohamed/Shutterstock

Not to risk sounding too much like your parent, but we wouldn't be doing our due diligence if we didn't highlight how easy it is to get your greens in via a smoothie. No, we're not going to pretend bananas and spinach are a common duo, but they're both neutral enough to work well together, especially in blended form. By adding a handful of raw spinach to your smoothie, you're effortlessly incorporating essential vitamins and some extra fiber, but all you'll really taste is the banana.

Though you aren't limited to spinach, it is one of the best options as it has a very mild flavor so as not to change your drink's flavor profile too much, if at all. You'll certainly notice that the spinach turned your smoothie into a bright green concoction, but the only hint of spinach you'll taste will come in the form of a subtle earthiness.

Coconut Water

glass of coconut water beside coconuts
glass of coconut water beside coconuts - Ws Studio/Getty Images

Unlike milk, water does not give smoothies a creamy texture. But if your go-to liquid ingredient for your banana smoothie is plain water, then you know it gets the job done nonetheless. However, if you haven't tried replacing it with coconut water before, now's the time to branch out. By making the simple swap, you'll still enjoy a relatively neutral smoothie -- but one with the added bonus of antioxidants and minerals.

Potential nutritional benefits aside, coconut water will also enhance the tasting notes in your smoothie without greatly impacting the flavor as something like milk or cream would. Coconut water has a very mild but distinct taste that's subtly sweet with just a hint of nuttiness. If that sounds pretty good to you, reach for a bottle of coconut water instead of the tap the next time you make your banana smoothie. Don't forget to thank us later.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.