Smoothie bowls are smoothies in a bowl, garnished with cut fruits and nuts and seeds and other optional toppings.
Smoothie bowls, along with smoothies have gained a lot of popularity in recent years but there’s also criticism about the fact that they aren’t really healthy and make people have more calories and sugar in the guise to having something healthy.
So what’s the truth? Are smoothie bowls and smoothies actually healthy or unhealthy?
I’ve written extensively about smoothies in my previous blog posts, and I would like to take the same approach towards smoothie bowls. Whether they are healthy or unhealthy depends entirely on how they are made and what ingredients they are made with. It is possible to have healthy smoothies and bowls just as it’s possible to have unhealthy ones.
So what determines whether a smoothie bowl is healthy or unhealthy? The ingredients! As I mentioned before, smoothies and bowls can be made healthy when you do not use added sugar and ingredients with added sugar. They can be made healthier when you use more vegetables and few fruits and add some good fats from nuts and seeds and protein from soy milk or yogurt or green yogurt.
If you use lots of green vegetables and berries and healthy nuts and seeds and nut butters along with some protein, and no added sugar or sweetened ingredients, then your smoothie is very healthy. In fact, it’s possible to make smoothie bowls even healthier than smoothies.
Let me explain how.
Smoothies can become unhealthy when there’s lots of sugar in them. Now we all know that added sugar is the worst. But even if your smoothie doesn’t have added sugar, it could have ingredients with added sugar such as fruit sorbet or flavoured and sweetened yogurt. Another source of sugar is from fruits. Now this is really important to understand. Fruits are awesome and I recommend them all the time. However, fruits should mainly be eaten in their whole form. When they are juiced and the fibre is removed, all the natural sugars in them is concentrated. While smoothies retain the fibre, it is broken down and the sugars are still concentrated. This is why fruits should be eaten in their whole form as far as possible. Fruits are a wonderful source of nutrients, fibre (with their peel) and antioxidants, but in order to get the most out of them without the effect of a sudden spike in blood sugar, they must be chewed and eaten.
So this is where smoothie bowls present an opportunity. Blend all the vegetables and nut butters and protein and leave the fruits cut up and added as topping. That’s the best of everything. Use a spoon to take a bite of the sweet fruit goodness and the veggie + fat and protein goodness in the liquid form.
You’ll have to make a conscious decision to not add any sugars of sweeteners in it if you’re looking to cut calories and also for maximum nutrients without side effects. It might take a little getting used to, especially if you’ve been having smoothies that taste like dessert, but if you’re serious about your health then this is the way to go.
You might be wondering “if I have to cut up the fruits anyway, why bother making a smoothie at all? Why indeed? It still makes sense to make the smoothie for the dose of fruits and veggies you’ll be getting. Most people don’t get their RDA of 5 a day servings of fruits and vegetables. The smoothie itself will give you at least 3, so it’s definitely worth the time and effort.
Unfortunately most smoothie bowl recipes do not follow this. Most recipes you see include lots of blended fruit (usually even more than the vegetables and that’s understandable because most recipes aren’t healthy – even if they say so). Most will try to make the yummiest smoothie which sadly means sacrificing good health.
But not anymore. I’ll show you how you can turn any smoothie bowls recipe into a healthy one. Here are 3 simple steps:
1. Get your healthy ingredients ready. This includes green leafy vegetables and other vegetables such as carrots, berries (which you can blend as they don’t cause a spike in blood sugar like other fruits do), nut butters such as almond or peanut butter, protein base such as soy milk or yogurt or Greek yogurt and for the toppings, seeds such as chia, ground flax and help and cut fruits of choice such as banana, apple (with peel), mango or pineapple .
2. Start with the protein base (preferably a little liquid for easy blending, a total yogurt base might make it a little harder to blend – depending on the type of blender you have). Then put in the leafy greens and blend. Then add the other veggies and nut butter and finally the berries. You could also add them all at once in the order mentioned and blend together.
3. If you prefer, you may add optional antioxidants such as amla, spirulina or chlorella. This is the time to add them in and blend one more time.
4. Transfer to a bowl. Adjust the thickness by adding some more nut butter or yogurt if desired.
5. Add fruit and seed toppings and enjoy with a spoon! ( Don’t forget a photo for social media first 😉 )
A smoothie bowl with no added sugar and no blended fruit is really the healthiest option out there. When consumed with all the healthy fats and protein, this makes a perfect choice for breakfast because it’s filling, satiating and will give you a steady supply of energy through the morning without any spike and subsequent crash.
For example, look at this smoothie.
Beet and berry smoothie bowl1 beet (peeled and diced)1 cup raspberries1 cup unsweetened non-GMO soy milk (or almond or rice milk, but soy has protein)1 tsp Amla or Acai berry powder
Optional – Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, mango, banana, chia seeds, flax or hemp seeds for topping. 2 tbsp almond butter
1. In a blender, add the milk, beet, raspberries, amla or acai powders and nut butters. Blend until smooth and creamy.
2. Transfer to a bowl.
3. Add desired toppings.
All goodness. No sugar crash.
Did you make any healthy smoothie yet? Let me know in the comments below!