One of the tastiest (and healthiest) hacks in the plant-based kitchen is to use healthy, whole foods to replace dairy-based foods. While you can buy products that do that, certain foods are pretty awesome in their ability to do this naturally. For instance, the creation of cashew cream cheese is nothing less than a culinary genius, and avocado butter is a food of the gods as much as chocolate. Many plant-based foods can also replace eggs in recipes, with one of those being bananas. This trick works wonderfully in recipes like granola bars and pancakes, but the humble yellow fruit can also be used in more ways than just an egg replacement. You can also use bananas instead of dairy foods in many of your plant-based recipes.
Why Bananas are Great Replacements for Dairy
Bananas don’t just provide a creamy texture and sweet taste to foods; but they also contain many of the same nutrients found in dairy that assist in lowering blood pressure and reducing stress, including potassium, magnesium and B vitamins. However, unlike dairy, banana comes with no cancer risks, lactose intolerance, or harm to cows. They’re also just tastier and much more natural compared to the milk from an animal.
So don’t throw away those bananas when they go brown. Here are some other incredible uses for bananas that you can use to replace dairy foods. What an inexpensive and kinder way to eat healthily!
1. Use in Place of Sour Cream and Yogurt in Cakes
Ever had a moist piece of cake that used sour cream (or even yogurt) in the recipe? Buttermilk is also commonly used for this because the lactic acid in fermented dairy products reacts with the ingredients in the cake during baking to create a moist texture and prevents it from drying out. You can replicate that same benefit by using some creamed, ripe bananas. Per 1/2 cup of sour cream, yogurt, or buttermilk called for, use 1/2 cup of mashed, ripe bananas. Of course, this will add a banana flavor, so if you want a more subtle taste, use really bright yellow bananas (versus brown) which are milder in flavor.
Try this trick out in: Rich, Decadent Vegan Banana Pecan Upside Down Cakes, Raw Vegan Strawberry Banana Ice Cream Cake, Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting, Mindblowing Banana Chocolate Caramel Vegan Ice Cream Cake, or The Ultimate Unprocessed Vegan Birthday Cake. Feel free to experiment with bananas in any of our other cake recipes too!
2. Use Them to Thicken Oatmeal and Add Flavor
A common ingredient in overnight oatmeal is dairy-based yogurt, which is used to thicken the oats and also aid with making the dish creamier. While you can most certainly replace yogurt with healthy, plant-based coconut yogurt, bananas can also be used instead, or in addition to, yogurt of any kind. Bananas provide a binding nature, along with a sweet, creamy flavor. They also soothe the gut lining much like yogurt’s probiotics and can reduce inflammation. And to beat all, though bananas don’t contain probiotics (good bacteria) for the gut, they are a natural prebiotic food that can help nourish the good bacteria already in your digestive system to help it thrive.
A 1/2 banana per bowl will do the trick in replacement to one 5 ounce container of yogurt. You can also add bananas to oatmeal during the cooking process to make your oatmeal creamier without milk. Try out bananas in Banana Oatmeal with Hazelnut Butter, Raisins and Baobab Powder or Slow Cooker Vegan Coconut Banana Pecan Oatmeal.
3. Use Them in Place of Cream Cheese in Desserts
Dessert tacos anyone? What about a creamy, sweet pie? Hold the cream cheese and bring on the bananas! Bananas make great replacements to cream cheese because they’re dense, sweet and incredibly satisfying. When blended with a touch of non-dairy milk, they make an awesome replacement to cream cheese (or even sour cream) in dessert recipes like pies.
Try this trick out in: Frozen Banana Bourbon Pie, Vegan Chocolate Banana Cream Pie, Raw Black and White Vegan Mousse, Acai Berry and Banana Mini Cheesecakes, No Bake Mississippi Mud Pie, or Whipped CocoCream Tart With Fresh Berries.
4. Use Them Instead of Yogurt in Smoothies
Bananas are great to use in smoothies where you don’t want to use dairy-based yogurts. They’re creamy, sweet and will help thicken up your smoothie naturally. Plus, there’s no need for added sugars when using bananas (that some commercial yogurts contain), and there are no lactose, milk proteins, or other hard to digest dairy ingredients. For a creamier and thicker texture, peel your ripe bananas, cut into cubes (or break into halves). Then freeze these in glass containers or BPA-free to-go containers for ease of use.
Try this trick out in: The Perfect Chocolate Banana Smoothie, Dark Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Banana Blizzard, Healthy Pumpkin Pie Detox Smoothie, The Winter Glow Smoothie, Energy-Boosting Vegan Superfood Protein Shake, and Cacao Nibs Cherry Smoothie.
5. Use Them In Place of Dairy Spreads
Butter, sour cream, yogurt, whatever you use to spread on toast, crackers, or even just stir into porridge, you can use bananas the same way. Mash a banana and spread on sprouted grain toast with some nut butter, add mashed bananas alone or with some nut butter to whole grain or seed-based crackers for a snack, or just stir some mashed bananas into porridge or top your porridge with sliced bananas in place of butter. This will add a creamy, dense flavor with no fat, no cholesterol, and more potassium, magnesium and Vitamin B6.
Plus, who can turn down recipes like Banana Strawberry Dillas and Protein Packed Hemp Breakfast Crepes? You can also try it out with your favorite sprouted grain bread with some cashew, almond, peanut, or coconut butter.
And Let’s Not Forget … Banana Ice Cream!
No dedication to the many uses of bananas as a replacement to dairy would be complete without at least a slight mention of how you can use them to replicate ice cream. Freeze them in cubes or slices, add to your blender (preferably a high speed blender) with a little non-dairy milk to get it going and process until you get banana ice cream. You can also use a food processor if you like.
Try Decadent Caramel Chocolate Banana Ice Cream, Creamy Vegan PB Banana and Chocolate Ice Cream, or Easy Banana Cacao Ice Cream as just a few ways to try bananas in vegan ice cream.
Enjoy bananas as a healthy part of a whole foods plant-based diet and you’ll never miss the cow’s milk again!
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Lead Image Source: Strawberry Sorbet and Raw Banana Ice Cream