Vegan Turmeric Banana Mango Lassi
One of my favorite things to order at my local restaurant here in the Seattle area is definitely a lassi to accompany spicy lentils, garlic naan and fragrant rice dishes. A lassi is a traditional Indian drink made from yogurt, water, spices, and fruit. Sweet, creamy, tangy mango lassis are a staple at Indian restaurants and so beautifully balance spicy, savory dishes. Because I like super spicy food, having a cooling beverage alongside is perfect. The problem is, classic mango lassis can be high in fat and sugar depending on how they’re made. So I created my own! My simple Vegan Turmeric Banana Mango Lassi is a great way to get all the same traditional flavors of a lassi while also being cautious of fat and sugar content.
I’m going to share exactly how to do this today on the blog so that you can whip your own up at home easily.
Supporting the Gut Microbiome with Food
As you may have heard, it’s all about the ‘microbiome’ these days. There is actually a microbiome in many parts of the body – or bacterial organisms living within us that may affect health. Arguably the largest and most influential on other systems is the microbiome in the gut or lower GI. Though we’ve known for awhile now that there are more bacteria living there than there are cells in our bodies and that they help keep our bowels regular, supporting elimination and detoxification in addition to making their own B12 and vitamin K (thanks bacteria!), studies are starting to link the bacteria there to our immune system, cognitive function and mood and even to body weight. If you’re interested in learning more specifics about how to support the microbiome, a great dietitian friend of mine just wrote a a new book about how to do a reset of this important system. Check it out here.
Though there’s much more to explore in this area of health, one thing is sure: eating lots of good fiber for the bacteria to feast on is a good thing. Beans, whole grains, veggies, and fruits support a healthy microbiome with a diverse collection of bacteria. Fermented foods – think yogurt, kombucha, pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi, and even wine and beer – contain bacteria that could support the bacteria naturally living in our gut. Some people do say that they notice better GI function – less constipation or loose stool depending on the issue – when they eat more fermented foods. So there may be health benefits in addition to the natural deliciousness of this Vegan Turmeric Banana Mango Lassi.
Using Turmeric for Inflammation
Turmeric is a spice and medicinal herb that has been used in dishes and medicines for thousands of years. Used traditionally in Indian dishes, you can buy this little brown root at a grocery store and grate it freshly into any recipe. It is also widely used in African and Chinese cuisine as well. The medicinal properties of turmeric come from curcuminoids, the main one being curcumin. Curcumin is what provides turmeric with its anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric helps to reduce inflammation in your body at the molecular level, and its anti-inflammatory abilities are seen to be as strong as some anti-inflammatory drugs.
Turmeric also has antioxidant properties, reducing the amount of free radicals in your body. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that react with important organic compounds, so it’s important to incorporate antioxidants into your diet to help reduce the amount of free radicals present in your body.
I love adding turmeric to my diet as much as I can because it is packed with so many health benefits. Turmeric not only has antioxidant properties but it also can help improve brain function and lower the risk for brain disease. It helps to increase neural activity and improve memory. Plus, it has also been seen that turmeric has some positive effects on preventing and helping treat Alzheimer’s Disease. Additionally, turmeric can help lower one’s risk for heart disease, cancers, arthritis, and other chronic diseases.
The numerous health benefits turmeric provides make it a perfect addition to your diet. My Vegan Turmeric Banana Mango Lassi is the perfect blend of sweet and savory flavors while also being packed with nutrients provided by turmeric and other ingredients. Plus, it is perfect for breakfast or a pre- or post-workout snack. If you are looking for some additional smoothies that are also packed with these amazing health benefits, check out my Melon Vanilla Smoothie, Calming Smoothie for Runners, or Wild Blueberry Vanilla Matcha Smoothie.
Making the Vegan Turmeric Banana Mango Lassi
The base of this lassi is your choice of non-dairy milk. Any non-dairy milk will work here, but I personally love to use one that is a good balance of carbohydrates, fat, and protein, such as soy milk. It’s important to be aware of the contents of the non-dairy milk you are using. I always try to choose one that has a good amount of protein to make the dish more filling.
Be aware of how much sugar is present in your non-dairy milk choice. A lot of brands like to sneak in added sugar for additional sweetness to the non-dairy milk. Make sure you are choosing the unsweetened choice, for this lassi already has natural sweetness from the fruits present.
I love incorporating frozen fruits, especially frozen bananas, into my smoothies so I had to incorporate them into my Vegan Turmeric Banana Mango Lassi as well! Using frozen fruits provide this lassi with thick consistency and a creamy texture. The banana and mango also add natural sweetness so no additional sugar or honey is needed.
It can be hard to find healthy non-dairy yogurts out there. Some of my clients have even decided to just make their own but in Seattle you can get unsweetened, plain Nancy’s brand and it’s quite good. The problem with so many yogurts (dairy AND non-dairy) is a high sugar content and low levels of protein. Almond, cashew, coconut and other non-dairy yogurts will have little to no protein so choose a product made with soy for better balance in this category.
If you want to use regular, dairy yogurt, feel free!
The turmeric provides this lassi with an even brighter color already present from the mango and banana. This root can be ground up and easily added into this dish. I also recommend adding a touch of cardamom at the end for a garnish. Cardamom, like turmeric, is a spice native to India and can help boost digestive health. This additional garnish adds a little extra boost to this already nutrient-packed lassi.
Try out this Vegan Turmeric Banana Mango Lassi and let me know if you love it!
Vegan Turmeric Banana Mango Lassi
- 2 cups frozen mango chunks
- 1 cup non-dairy unsweetened plain yogurt
- 2 cups unsweetened plant-based milk (such as coconut or soy)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground turmeric root
- 1 small frozen banana
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamom for garnish
- Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Evenly pour lassi into 2 glasses and garnish with cinnamon.
Ginger Hultin,MS, RD, CSO
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