The Smoothie Bowl Trend - As Healthy as we Think?
Updated: Feb 4, 2019
A few weeks ago, I received a message from a good friend of mine asking me what I think about smoothie bowls – specifically if the ones that you can buy from the store/juice bar/restaurant are really that healthy for you?
Well at first, I wanted to immediately respond with:
ARE YOU CRAZY? THEY’RE THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD! IF YOU SEE ONE ON A MENU, YOU BUY AT LEAST 16, EAT THEM ALL AT ONCE AND GO INTO A HEAVENLY, SMOOTHIE BOWL INDUCED COMA.
As you can see, I am pro-smoothie bowl.
But then it got me thinking. So I am ashamed to admit that I’ve probably purchased a fair few hundred dozen smoothie bowls in my lifetime. And to be honest, I’ve never really questioned the nutritional content of them before diving right in. My assumption was always that they were a great choice, no matter the ingredients or toppings. Shame on you, Amy.
So, after doing some research on smoothie bowls at my favourite establishments, it’s safe to say that not all smoothie bowls are created equal.
The good news is, most smoothie bowls you can purchase really are a great choice. For example, if it was between a Smoothie Bowl or a 6 pc Chicken McNugget Meal, you go with the Bowl. Duh.
But here’s the thing, and to my friend’s point, there are definitely some sneaky ingredients that can take your smoothie bowl from a healthy, balanced meal, to a sugary-filled snack.
Firstly, watch out for the amount of fruit included in the bowl. A cup of berries is perfect. It’s full of nutrients, some healthy sweetness, antioxidants…you name the berry, I love it. However, a cup of berries, plus mango, plus a whole banana, plus pineapple, plus kiwi, plus açai is overkill. You’re basically looking at a giant bowl of sugar, albeit natural, but still, it’s a lot of a sugar. Also – beware if they add juice. Super unnecessary. Tell them you’ll opt for cold water or coconut water instead.
Next up, the protein. I always make sure that I choose a smoothie bowl with added protein, and I always make sure to question if the protein is whey or plant-based, what their brand of choice is (I’m confident at this point that I know about most plant-based proteins) and how much they add in. The added protein will not only help balance out blood-sugar levels, but will help keep you fuller for longer.
Dairy-Free Milk Options
Again, it's okay to speak up and question the type of nut milk they use in their smoothie bowls. Most of the time establishments will have a variety to choose from. If you don’t want to use their sweetened Almond Milk because of the added sugar, ask if they have an unsweetened option or another option for you, such as Coconut Milk. You’re allowed to be picky.
Watch for the Toppings
Lastly, and I’m sure this is obvious, but watch out for the toppings. Of course, I know that the toppings are the best part, and I have many times fallen in love with a beautiful looking smoothie bowl with all the perfectly placed toppings, but this is where the added sugar can creep in.
The first offender, which I find on quite a lot of bowls on the market, is granola. Granola can be very high in sugar, especially if it’s conventional, store-bought granola. I’d hope a lot of juiceries and natural food restaurants make their own, but you can never be sure, so your best move is to either avoid a bowl with granola or ask them to hold the granola on your order.
The next few offenders: sweetened coconut, chocolate or nut butters. All of these are fine in moderation, but sometimes places can really load these on. So just beware.
Last but not least: more fruit! Again, if the bowl itself already contains quite a bit of fruit, it may not be necessary to add a full banana on top. I tend to add fruit on top only if there is little-to-no fruit in the smoothie bowl itself. Like my recipe below!
Breaking It Down: Smoothie Bowl 101
So enough about what to watch out for, here is an example of what you should look for in a balanced smoothie bowl:
- 1-2 servings of fruit
- High quality plant-based protein source (or a whey source, depending on your dietary needs)
- 1-2 servings of healthy fat (Coconut Oil, Avocado, Flax Oil, Chia Seeds)
- 1-2 servings of vegetables (Spinach, Kale, Cauliflower, Sweet Potato)
- Fibre (Ground flaxseed, Hemp Seeds or Oats)
- Nut Milk or Coconut Water
Toppings could include: (in moderation of course)
- Hemp Seeds
- Bee Pollen (I order mind from BeeKeeper's Naturals)
- Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Coconut Cream (This is completely unnecessary but so delicious. Here is a great coconut cream recipe I’ve been following for years. You don’t even need the added sweetener, it’s delicious by itself.)
- Nut Butter (only about a tablespoon)
So finally, here is my favourite go-to recipe that I make at home, pretty much on a weekly basis. I have a few in the rotation, but this is still by far my favourite concoction.
Are you a smoothie bowl fan? Or do you just think it's strange to eat a smoothie out a bowl? (Totally cool, I get it's weird.) Let me know!