Smoothie Bowls: The Next Best Thing You Need to Try

Being a smoothie bowl fanatic myself, I’m sometimes a little surprised when people ask, “What’s a smoothie bowl?”

A breakfast of champions, a mid-morning snack, or a well-balanced meal (that doesn’t have to be sweet), smoothie bowls are truly an enjoyable and easy way to get loads of nutrients in,with the bonus of cooling you off on hot summer days!

While often confused with acai bowls or “nice cream” (i.e. a blend of frozen bananas + other “superfoods”), smoothie bowls can actually be SO MUCH MORE!

I’m going to teach you how to build your own epic smoothie bowl — a creation that you can repurpose into breakfasts, snacks, lunches, and even dinners. While dessert-inspired bowls can be a healthy indulgence, I’m going to step outside the boundaries of the carrot cake and pumpkin-spice bowls currently trending on Pinterest, and prove that you could technically have a bowl for each and every meal of the day — without overloading on sugar!

Note that smoothie BOWLS (vs. regular smoothies) provide the benefits of actually eating and chewing your food — which is proven to be healthier than drinking your calories.

  • Chewing your food sends signals to your brain that necessary fuel and nutrients are on their way and about to get to work!
  • The longer food hangs out in your mouth, the longer your tongue has to process all of the flavours. Once this detection occurs, messages are sent to the brain, which in turn gets the appropriate digestive juices flowing.

• In contrast with drinking, eating encourages saliva production, which actually helps to kill some bacteria, hence contributing to better oral hygiene.
• Studies have shown that taking time to chew your food keeps you feeling fuller and energized longer.

The main takeaway? Solid food has many benefits over liquid food. Smoothie bowls = solid. Smoothies = liquid. Smoothie bowls WIN.

Now let’s get straight into it…

1. Pick a protein

sure, powders (e.g. hemp seed, pea protein, brown rice protein, whey, etc.) work well—but how about something less conventional?

Here are some of my favourites:
• Red or green lentils: cook beforehand, then freeze in separate ½ cup portions (8 grams of protein each)
• Teff or quinoa flour: teff has 7 grams of protein per ¼ cup, while quinoa (which should be soaked and sprouted before raw consumption) has between 4 and 5 grams.
• Skyr or Greek yogurt: Skyr (Icelandic yogurt) kills it with 21 grams of protein and only 2 grams of sugar per ¾ cup. Greek yogurt is a good second choice with 18 grams of protein and 5 grams of sugar for the same amount.

2. Pick some veggies

there isn’t a better opportunity to get your greens in than blending them up with delicious items that totally hide that “healthy taste” you might not be in the mood for…

• Squash: butternut or summer squash work best. Pre-steam and then freeze in cubes. They add creaminess to the texture that gives bananas a run for their money! Plus, you get the bonus of beta-carotene.
• Zucchini: another addition that will bulk up the texture of your bowl. You can just cut it up raw and then freeze.
• Cucumber: such a refreshing addition on a hot day — mixed with coconut water, this combination is worth trying!

3. Pick some fruit

if you want. Most people consider the fruit addition to be an absolute necessity in a smoothie bowl… I beg to differ. Still, if you’re not a hard-core smoothie bowl advocate, it might be better to start with a more mainstream approach.

I still like to keep things on the low glycemic index side.
• Berries: wow, how original, am I right?!
• Apricots: fresh or frozen… just not dried!
• Grapefruit: add some mint for a refresher, or ginger for a kick!

4. Pick a fat

Yes, fat is good. Not only because your body requires it to function, but also because the addition will improve the consistency and taste of the entire bowl.

While we’ve all heard of nut butters, how about…
• Avocado: divine with cacao — further optimized with mint!
• Coconut butter: the flesh of the coconut, rather than just the pure oil (also includes fibre as well as small amounts of potassium, magnesium, and iron).
• Chia & hemp seeds: okay, you’ve probably heard of these — and it’s because they are amazing… so I couldn’t skip them!

5. Pick a liquid

It’s a bowl, but it needs to blend.

Other than yogurt — which I already mentioned — you might want to try:
• Kefir: an even more potent source of probiotics compared to regular yogurt!
• Almond/cashew/coconut/rice/soy/hemp milk: each has their own pros and cons… just make sure to get the unsweetened kind.
• Coconut water: my favourite for sweetening up green smoothie bowls. Just make sure not to add too much as it will thin out the consistency.

Still need to bulk it up?

Your blend should resemble ice cream — not soup. Here are some ingredient “hacks” I’ve found that work best for thickening things up!

• Psyllium husk: loaded with fibre; reduces appetite and even aids digestion.
• Oat bran: again, a very high fibre content that keeps you feeling fuller longer.
• Flaxseed (ground): beyond the fibre, flaxseeds contain manganese, vitamin B1, and omega-3.

TOP IT UP! Now the real fun begins…

⋅ Top pick: sprouted buckwheat groats

⋅ Top pick: pumpkin seeds

Dried fruits
⋅ Top pick: mulberries

Other favourites…
⋅ Cacao nibs
⋅ Freshly sliced fruits such as pear, nectarines, and guava
⋅ Coconut chips/flakes

And now you’re officially a smoothie-bowl connoisseur!

Here’s a collection of some of my favourites, which will help you get the ball rolling (or blender mixing). Welcome to your new favourite pre & post #yogafuel!

Kiki Athanassoulias

Kiki Athanassoulias is a Rotman Commerce graduate from Toronto, and a current fellow in the entrepreneurial non-profit organization, Venture for Canada. She joinedMeal Garden — a health-focused meal planning startup, as it was a perfect fit to her strong passion for food and nutrition, complimented by her business background and entrepreneurial training. Today, she acts as Marketing Director, and her goal is to pay it forward by genuinely helping Meal Garden users succeed in living nutritious and well-balanced lives! In her free time, Kiki enjoys practicing yoga and writing for her blog, Mindfully Edible.

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