Why drink your smoothie from a glass when you can slurp it in a bowl using a spoon? We love our dairy-free smoothies – especially when we can use a fun glass straw – but there is something extra special about healthy smoothie bowls. You might have seen them cropping up lately on food blogs, social media and in cafes, and if you’re wondering what the fuss is, we’re about to school you.
Healthy smoothie bowls have a few distinct advantages to smoothies in a glass, namely:
- You’ll consume them more slowly. Have you ever poured yourself a delicious smoothie and within 60 seconds it’s gone, dazed at where it went so fast? Us too. Serving smoothies in a bowl allows you to slow down, relax, even ‘chew’ your smoothie bowl for optimum digestion.
- Toppings! It’s difficult to add toppings to a traditional smoothie, as they’ll get stuck in the straw. With healthy smoothie bowls, you can add toppings galore to add texture, flavour and crunch.
- Aesthetics. Smoothies in a glass just don’t have the sex appeal of smoothie bowls. You can swirl, colour coordinate and decorate smoothie bowls so they feel fancy and elegant.
- Satiety. Some people don’t view smoothies as a full meal – even though they can be if you make them well. The addition of extra ingredients to healthy smoothie bowls means you’ll likely feel more satisfied and satiated. Plus, some folks find that actually eating with a bowl and spoon feels more meal-esque than drinking out of a glass.
If you’d like to dip your toes into the smoothie bowl world, here are our top tips for creating healthy smoothie bowls that will serve as a complete, satisfying and delicious meal.
9 Tips for Healthy Smoothie Bowls
1. Choose a base liquid
Figure out what kind of liquid you’d like to add to your blender as the base of your smoothie. We prefer to use plant-based milks – discover how to create them here. However, you can also use chilled tea, coconut water, 100% fruit juice or just plain water.
2. Select a variety of fruit + veg
This is where you can give your healthy smoothie bowls some heft. We like to add about 2 cups worth of vegetables and fruits to our smoothies – typically 1 cup of greens (spinach, kale, romaine, etc.) and 1 cup of fruit. When choosing fruit, we aim for those that are lower on the glycemic index (berries, apples, cherries, lemon/lime, pears, etc.) so we don’t spike our blood sugar levels and get that ‘sugar buzz’.
While many recipe developers and food bloggers feel it’s essential to include a frozen banana in healthy smoothie bowls, you don’t need it to create a thick, ice cream-ish consistency. Any frozen fruit will do! Other ways to create a thick smoothie bowl are:
- Use less liquid
- Freeze some of your base liquid in ice cube trays for blending
- Add water ice cubes
- Scoop in half or a 1/4 avocado
- Thicken with flax seeds or chia seeds
And don’t forget about the veggies! Cooked, pureed and chilled vegetables add thickness and nutrition to healthy smoothie bowls too, including:
- Butternut squash
- Sweet potato
On the aesthetic side of the equation, consider colour combinations and what your smoothie will end up looking like after blending. Dark leafy greens may muddy up the waters, so you could choose a lighter green like romaine or butter lettuce. If you want to play up the green colour, add something like spirulina or chlorella for a bright green hue. Play around and see what you like!
The nice thing is if you don’t like the colour of your smoothie, you can always cover it up with toppings.
3. Add in a good source of protein
Protein helps to balance blood sugar levels and create a satiating smoothie, plus protein is essential for healing, growth and repair. Some great protein options for healthy smoothie bowls are:
- Nut or seed butters
- Hemp, chia or flax seeds
- Sunflower or sesame seeds
- Protein powders
- Spirulina and chlorella
- Grass-fed gelatin or collagen
- Bee pollen
4. Toss in some healthy fats
Healthy fats help to slow down the release of sugars into the bloodstream, which is important in healthy smoothie bowls if you are including sweeter fruits. And that’s not all – fats help to boost our brain function, improve our skin, hair and nails, help us absorb certain fat-soluble vitamins and reduce inflammation.
Some fat options for your smoothie bowls are:
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Flax oil
- Hemp oil
- Nuts and seeds
- Coconut milk, coconut meat or shredded coconut
5. Use herbs and spices
Herbs and spices are a wonderful way to add extra flavour and nutritional benefit to your healthy smoothie bowls. Some our favourites to use are:
- Cinnamon: helps to balance blood sugar
- Parsley or cilantro: aids detoxification
- Turmeric: highly anti-inflammatory
- Ginger: anti-nausea and anti-inflammatory
- Lavender: helps with stress + anxiety
- Maca: an adaptogen that helps with stress, energy and libido
- Cacao powder: rich in antioxidants and magnesium, which help combat free radicals and with relaxation
- Mint: great for digestion
- Basil: antioxidant-rich and anti-inflammatory
And whatever other herbs and spices you love. Go for it!
6. Choose delicious toppings
Once your smoothie is blended, choose toppings for extra flavour, texture and crunch. You may want to select toppings that will complement your smoothie, or contrast it. For example, if your smoothie is quite sweet you can choose bitter/sour toppings, or vice versa.
Some wonderful toppings for healthy smoothie bowls are:
- Nuts or seeds
- Shredded coconut
- Cacao nibs
- Gluten-free granola
- Dried almond pulp
- Coconut whipped cream
- Dried fruit
- Extra fresh fruit
- Cashew cream
- Fermented nut cheese
- Edible flowers
- Dairy-free yogurt
- Popped quinoa
A word of warning: don’t go too crazy with the toppings! Most of the toppings above are nutrient-dense, so you don’t want to end up feeling sick and stuffed at the bottom of the bowl. A good rule of thumb is to choose about 2-4 Tbsp of toppings, and try to use anywhere from 2-5 different toppings for best results.
7. Use a chilled bowl
Stash your bowl in the freezer for 30 minutes before making your smoothie. This will keep your smoothie cold as you eat it.
8. Make it pretty!
After you pour your smoothie into the bowl, start decorating! This is ultra fun, especially for the artsy, creative types. You can decide how you want to scatter your toppings – in circles, in lines, in quadrants, haphazardly. Anything goes! If you’re looking for inspiration, you can turn to Instagram, Pinterest or food blogs.
9. Share the goodness
Make enough for two (or more) and share the healthy smoothie bowl love. If you’re having guests over or making them for family, set up a toppings bar so everyone can make their own creations.
And don’t forget to snap a photo so you can share your beautiful smoothie bowls with others – feel free to tag us @culinarynutrition or #cneprogram if you do!
Header Image: sveta_zarzamora