Written by Lina Nieto, nutrition communications intern
Smoothies are the perfect way to get in a balanced breakfast on busy mornings! These no cook creations are incredibly versatile, customizable, portable and convenient, and with the right ingredients they can be an extremely nutritious way to begin your day. But for some people, just drinking a smoothie in the morning is not the most filling or satisfying option. Enter the smoothie bowl, a slightly thicker blend topped with healthy goodies of your choice like fruits, nuts, seeds, and more. Eating a smoothie bowl with a spoon and adding some heftiness with toppings creates the sensation of actually eating something rather than just drinking it, without sacrificing all the healthful additions and benefits of smoothies.
For those who have never made smoothie bowls before, just follow these simple steps! Once you’ve got the basics down, it’s really easy to experiment with nutritional boosts and ingredients of your choice to make your bowl a meal.
Add a Creamy Base
To create that frosty/creamy base that gives your smoothie bowl tons of dimension, frozen fruit is the way to go. Overripe frozen bananas and frozen berries are usually the most popular go-tos as they add sweetness and thick texture, but you can use whatever frozen fruit you’d like – blueberries, mango, acai…the possibilities are endless. Avocado is an unexpected but delicious addition to make your smoothie bowl super creamy as well, and once you add in all your other ingredients the flavor of avocado will go unnoticed.
Add Your Veggies
One of the main purposes of creating smoothies and smoothie bowls is to add in superfoods that you normally may not eat a lot of on their own due to taste. When added to a smoothie, the flavor of greens and other vegetables are masked and it is much easier to get in your recommended daily servings of vegetables this way. Usually mild tasting greens like spinach are ideal for those who are just beginning to make smoothie bowls, but feel free to experiment with seasonal or local greens of your choice such as kale, swiss chard, mustard greens, or even sea vegetables like spirulina and chlorella. But you don’t have to limit yourself to leafy greens! Think beyond spinach and kale and perhaps add some cucumber for a refreshing and hydrating smoothie bowl, or add cooked squash like pumpkin or butternut in the fall months.
Choose your Liquid
Adding the right liquid is crucial for the taste and consistency of your smoothie – some recipes may simply call for water, while others require creamier alternatives like yogurt or cow’s milk. For those that prefer dairy free choices, there are many different options to choose from such as coconut milk, coconut yogurt, almond milk or other nut milks, hemp milk, coconut water, and unsweetened iced tea. A good rule of thumb is to start off with less liquid and work your way up to more to avoid creating a smoothie bowl that is too thin.
Protein is perhaps one of the most important additions to factor in when trying to make your smoothie bowl more of a meal. Protein powder seems like the obvious addition, but there are many other options to choose from. Nut butters are a great choice, as well as seeds like chia or hemp. Hemp seeds are super nutrition boosters as they are high in protein and beneficial omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, fiber, and minerals like zinc and magnesium. They have a neutral taste that adds an additional creamy texture to smoothies. Manitoba Harvest is a great brand to choose from, as they sell both hemp hearts as well as hemp protein powder HempPro70, which has 20 grams of plant based protein per 30 gram serving and comes in chocolate, vanilla, or original flavor. Another great option is Daisy Cottage Cheese – one 1/2 cup serving adds 13 grams of protein for just 90 calories.
Adding healthy fats like nut butter, seeds, avocado, or even a bit of coconut oil adds to the satiety factor of your smoothie and helps in the absorption of other nutrients.
These are optional additions, but if you think your smoothie bowl is missing a bit of sweetness, you may consider adding in a natural and unrefined sweetener like raw honey or a bit of maple syrup. You can also add in cacao, maca, or matcha powder for additional flavors.
Here’s the fun part– adding toppings is reminiscent of a frozen yogurt bar, but the options you choose can be much healthier. The right toppings add crunch, nutrition and depth to your smoothie bowl. Experiment with granola, muesli, coconut flakes, sliced fruit, nuts and seeds, citrus zest, spices, softened nut butter and even cacao nibs or dark chocolate shavings. Once you’re done adding all your toppings to your smoothie bowl, grab a spoon and enjoy this filling, delicious and nutritious treat!