You’ve probably seen “smoothie bowls” like the one above popping up all over your Pinterest or Instagram feeds.
This delicious new trend offers the best of both worlds: You get the convenience, taste and texture of a smoothie, but a bowl is even more filling than a traditional blended beverage.
While smoothies are a convenient and healthy way to replace a meal on the go, research has shown that liquid forms of fruits can be less satisfying than whole foods. With a smoothie bowl, in addition to blending in superfoods, you also add fruit, nuts, seeds or grain on top. So you also get something to chew, which can help make for a yummy whole breakfast or lunch.
Plus, making a smoothie bowl is still just as easy. You can use a smoothie recipe you already know and love, or just throw something together. All you have to do is use less liquid or add a little more of something thickening (like an extra half of a frozen banana or a few spoonfuls of oats) and blend as you normally would. (Because it’s thicker, you may need to stop your blender and stir or shake the ingredients, then blend again.)
As with regular smoothies, what you put in bowls depends on your taste. So feel free to get creative! Here is a list of ingredients to get you started, with some of my own experiments sprinkled in.
I like frozen spinach, but you can use kale, romaine, or even cucumber. Also, think beyond greens: Pumpkin and cooked squash (like butternut) make delicious smoothie bowls, as do carrots (best to lightly steam or shred them before blending).
Frozen berries are always great and frozen bananas can lend a creamy, ice cream-like texture. Dried dates can also add thickness and a caramel-like sweetness, but be sure to pit them first. If they feel hard, soak them in hot water until they soften, then drain, reserving the liquid, and pat dry. You can use the liquid to thin and sweeten your smoothie bowl.
There are plenty of powders to choose from if you want extra protein (check the label; some can be very high in added sugar). Personally, I prefer nut butter or seeds, like hemp or chia. Hemp seeds are loaded with nutrition, and they’re a neutral-tasting thickener that lend additional creaminess to smoothies.
You can use regular or low-fat milk of course, but nut milks, coconut water, unsweetened decaf iced tea, and even plain water can also work and add interesting flavors. Start with very little and add sparingly to make sure you don’t thin out your smoothie bowl too much.
If you haven’t added some fat with nut butter or seeds, toss in a bit of avocado or a spoonful of coconut oil. Fats help you feel full and satisfied, are essential for absorbing certain nutrients, and they keep your hair and skin healthy.
These are all optional, but they’re good to have on hand in case you taste your smoothie bowl base and it’s missing a little something. If you need a touch of added sweetness, throw in a tiny bit of honey or maple syrup. Cacao powder ($11, Amazon) or cacao nibs (or unsweetened cocoa, if that’s what you have on hand) also offer that unbeatable chocolate flavor and get you tons of fiber and minerals. I enjoy adding maca in my smoothie bowls (this dried South American root vegetable has a nice butterscotch flavor). Spirulina or matcha powder are also good for powering up your bowl with nutrition.
Anything you might add to yogurt works: granola or muesli, toasted unsweetened coconut, sliced fruit, whole chia or hemp seeds (if they’re not blended inside already), or nuts. Experiment and have fun with it. Grab a spoon and enjoy!