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Healthy Banana Recipes You Haven't Made a Billion Times Already
Bananas Are Best
Bananas are one of my favorite foods: I eat several each week. For just 105 calories per medium banana, they're a great snack, especially when paired with a tablespoon of peanut butter or a small handful of almonds or pistachios. Plus, they offer blood-pressure-helping potassium and satiating fiber.
Bananas also make great recipe additions—they can be the stars of smoothie or muffin recipes or act as a sugar stand-in when whipping up baked goods. Looking for banana inspiration? Here are 10 ways to eat the star ingredient, from my dietitian colleagues' kitchens (and mine!) to yours.
Amy Gorin Nutrition
Blend into a smoothie
I always store a couple of peeled and sliced bananas in the freezer. Sometimes, I'll eat as is—and other times I'll add them to a smoothie, which I'll have as an afternoon snack or as part of a breakfast (perhaps paired with a fried egg placed on top of a slice of whole-grain toast). A banana lends a creamy mouthfeel to the recipe and sweetens the smoothie without the need for added sugar or honey. Plus using frozen fruit allows me to skip the ice.
Try it: Berry Almond Cocoa Smoothie
Cook an overnight breakfast
"This recipe cuts the added sugar by more than half—many traditional banana bread loaves use a cup or more!—without sacrificing the sweet indulgent flavor, thanks to the super-ripe and naturally sweet bananas," says Tina Gowin Carlucci, R.D., owner of Gowin Nutrition. "This banana bread is so easy to whip up and toss in your slow cooker before going to bed. When you wake up, you have freshly 'baked' bread for breakfast. Yum!"
Try it: Slow Cooker Banana-Pecan Bread
Swap for sugar in baked goods
"By substituting mashed banana for added sugar and using Greek yogurt as a butter replacement, you come out with a great-tasting cookie that contains no added sugar, is rich in fiber and potassium, and contains less fat and calories than the standard version," says Erin Palinski-Wade, R.D., C.D.E., author of Belly Fat Diet for Dummies. "It's a cookie that's rich in whole grains and protein and healthy enough that I serve it to my family for breakfast!"
"I love this banana recipe because it uses chickpea flour and liquid in place of wheat flour and eggs to create a fluffy, delicious pancake!" says Sharon Palmer, R.D.N., author of The Plant-Powered Blog. "So it's great for people who are avoiding gluten or eggs for dietary preferences or allergies. The bananas add natural sweetness to the recipe, so the pancakes are not very high in sugar, either. You can even add more bananas on top for further sweetness."
Use them in a muffin recipe
"We love that these muffins taste like a decadent treat but have only 155 calories," say Tammy Lakatos Shames, R.D.N., C.F.T., and Lyssie Lakatos, R.D.N., C.F.T., co-owners of NutritionTwins.com and coauthors of The Nutrition Twins' Veggie Cure. "And unlike sugar-packed muffins, these have 5 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber and just a small drop of honey. Healthy applesauce and Greek yogurt replace otherwise artery-clogging shortening and butter. They're a delicious way to pack in vegetables, whole grains, fruit, and eggs in a snack."
Eleat Sports Nutrition
Top off your toast
This simple recipe works well as a breakfast or a snack. If you're choosing the latter, consider halving the portion, unless you're eating after a very strenuous workout. "This recipe makes for an excellent option for your next post-workout snack!" says Angie Asche, M.S., R.D., owner of Eleat Sports Nutrition. "Combining carbs with protein post-workout helps aid in recovery."
Try it: Crunch Toast
Dice them in a salad
"People don't always think of fruit in green salads, but they add a naturally sweet dimension to balance more acidic and earthy flavor notes," says Maggie Moon, M.S., R.D.N., author of the forthcoming The MIND Diet. "The natural sweetness of bananas means there's absolutely no need for any added sugar from dressings, and the fiber in bananas and all those veggies offer a prebiotic paradise for gut health."
Add to a healthy dessert
"If you have a sweet tooth but you're trying to cut back on added sugar, look no further than our chocolate-and-hemp-covered frozen banana bites," say Liz Weiss, M.S., R.D.N., and Janice Newell Bissex, M.S., R.D.N., cofounders of MealMakeoverMoms.com. "Three of our decadent-tasting dessert bites have just 170 calories, and each serving also provides 2 grams of fiber. When you're craving something sweet, grab a few bites from the freezer and enjoy."
Create a healthier PB cup
Craving peanut butter cups? Try this healthier, homemade version from Abbey Sharp, R.D., owner of Abbey's Kitchen. "These homemade peanut butter cups are surprisingly light because they're sweetened only with ripe bananas," she says.
Whip up vegan ice cream
Bananas offer a wonderful creamy base for frozen desserts. "This vegan ice cream is packed with plant-based protein, thanks to the tofu and powdered peanut butter," says Lauren Harris-Pincus, M.S., R.D.N., owner of NutritionStarringYOU.com. "Yet it's guilt-free enough to enjoy anytime."
Try it: Banana Fudge Vegan Ice Cream