Brenda de Groot
Health & Food Recipes Vegan

How to Make the Healthiest Smoothie Bowl Ever

The whole world seems to be obsessed by them and so am I: smoothie bowls. But I don’t mean your ordinary banana-and-almond-milk smoothie bowl. No. I mean really healthy ones. Containing not only fruit, but also a big bunch of greens and plant-based protein. In this article I will guide you through the process of making the healthiest smoothie bowl ever, that tastes great as well.

Veggies For Breakfast

A big plate of raw vegetables is most likely not on top of your mind, first thing in the morning. Yet this is exactly what you are eating if you made yourself a smoothie bowl the Vegan Monky way.

I like to think of a smoothie bowl as a black hole in which you can dump all kinds of super-healthy-but-not-so-tasty ingredients, and turn them into a treat. A chocolate pudding filled with bunches of kale and spoonfuls of flaxseeds.

Magic!Illustration monkey sitting in a smoothie bowl - Vegan Monky. Illustration by Brenda de Groot

How Do You Make a Smoothie Bowl?

Well..

  1. Make a smoothie
  2. Pour it into a glass
  3. Pour it into a bowl

Voilá.

What Should I Put Into It?

Again: I’m talking about a REALLY healthy smoothie bowl. Like, the healthiest of all times. My goal is to add as much vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals into the thing, while ending up with a delicious breakfast. This is what goes into my super healthy smoothie bowl:

  • Fruit
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts and/or seeds
  • Water or plant-based milk
  • “Superfood powders” (optional)
  • Plant-based protein (optional)
  • Toppings and upgrades (optional)

1. FruitIllustratie van fruit - Vegan Monky

How much:
200 – 250 grams

Why:
Vitamin C, antioxidants and a sweet taste

What:
The most delicious smoothie bowl has more than 1 type of fruit in it. I suggest to always use banana in your smoothie bowl. Bananas have a neutral but sweet taste, and add creaminess to your smoothie bowl. Bananas also take care for binding all the ingredients together. Which is great, because nothing is as annoying as a smoothie that separates itself into juice and foam after you poured it into a bowl.

Use one whole or half a banana, depending on how much more fruit you want to add.

Sweet fruit Forest fruits Melon Sour-sweet fruit
Banana Blackberries Cantaloupe melon Apple
Grapes Blueberries Galia melon Grapefruit
Mango Cherries Sugar melon Kiwi fruit
Nectarine Raspberries Watermelon Orange
Papaya Strawberries Pineapple
Peach Red currants
Pear Tangerine
Persimmon
Plums

Tip 1: If you really don’t want to use banana, then at least use mango, persimmon, papaya, cherries, nectarine, avocado, chia seeds, oatmeal, plant-based yogurt or silken tofu. These ingredients also act as binding agents and prevent your smoothie from separating.

Tip 2: Check out the frozen fruits in your local supermarket. They are easy, cheap and as healthy as fresh fruits. However, I prefer pineapple, mango and strawberries fresh over frozen.

Tip 3 a.k.a. Best Tip Ever: Use frozen banana instead of fresh banana. If you blend frozen banana, you get what they call ‘nicecream’: ice cream made from bananas. The texture is almost identical to the real deal!


2. VegetablesIllustratie van groente

How much:
150 – 200 grams, but more is always allowed.

Why:
Because. Vegetables are great. There is no other fresh product that has as much vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber then vegetables have – especially raw leafy greens. That’s great, since leafy vegetables are perfect to add into a smoothie bowl.

What:
Let’s start with: what not. I’d personally recommend you to skip raw broccoli and cauliflower. The combination of raw cabbage and fruit are not too great for most people’s bowels. Also, the grainy texture of the smoothie you’ll get isn’t too pleasant either.

With the table you find here, you will get a tasty smoothie for sure.
Pick two veggies, of which at least one leafy green, or choose more vegetables in smaller portions.

Leafy greens
(50 – 150 grams)
Neutral vegetables
(100< grams)
Cooked vegetables
(100< grams)
Intense vegetables
(50 – 150 grams)
Bok choi Avocado (max. 150g) Carrot Celery
Lettuce Chinese cabbage Pumpkin Fennel
Kale Courgette Red beetroot Red beetroot (raw)
Spinach Cucumber Sweet potato

Tip 1: Blend your smoothie for somewhat longer when you use kale: kale is very fibrous and it takes somewhat longer to blend it to a smooth mass.

Tip 2: Did you use too many vegetables in your smoothie and did it lost its good taste? Then use some extra banana or other fruit for some sweetness.

Tip 3: For the culinary daredevil: throw in some basil or mint and see taste what happens.  


3. Nuts and Seeds

How much:
1 tsp – 2 tbs (or 5 – 25 grams)

Why:
Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, minerals.

What:
All nuts and seeds go well in a smoothie bowl, but my favourites are chia seeds, hemp seeds and flaxseed. Chia seeds are made up 38% fiber [1]. That is a lot. Flaxseed is the king of the omega-3 fatty acids: there is no other product that contains as much omega-3 per 100 grams than flaxseed. And hemp seeds contain the most protein of all nuts and seeds: one third is pure protein [2]. But again, all nuts and seeds are great and contain many omega-3, protein, fiber and minerals.

Nuts Seeds
Almonds Chia seeds
Brazil nuts Flaxseed
Cashews Hemp seeds
Hazelnuts Pumpkin seeds
Macadamias Sunflower seeds
Pecans
Walnuts

Tip 1: Soak nuts in water the night before you use them. In this way you prevent a grainy texture of your smoothie bowl. Additional health benefit of soaking nuts (and oats) is that your body will absorb nutrients better.

Tip 2: Instead of blending nuts and seeds, you can also use them as a topping. In the section Toppings en Upgrades you will find some nice options to choose from.


4. Water or Plant-based Milk

How much:
100 – 200 ml

Why:
Just try without once and see what happens

What:

  • Water
  • Almond milk
  • Cashew milk
  • Oat milk
  • Hemp seed milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Macadamia milk
  • Rice milk

Tip 1: Always use unsweetened plant-based milk. You really don’t need those extra refined sugars.

Tip 2: Don’t add fruit juice to your smoothie. The extra vitamins don’t outweigh the extra sugars you’ll get from it. 200 ml of orange juice contains 17 grams of sugar, zero fiber and the same amount of calories as two small oranges [3,4].


5. Superfood Powders

How much:
1 – 2 tsp

Why:
Many extra antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

What:
The word ‘superfoods’ is used for products that contain many (who decides what is many I don’t know) nutrients. I’m not particularly fond of the term, since it is used by marketers to make easy profit from products. Broccoli, kale and blueberries are superfoods as well, but they are harder to make profit of. What I mean with superfoods here is the ‘powders’:

  • Turmeric (with black pepper, for the strongest effect [5]) Illustration of a monkey with a blender - Vegan Monkey
  • Cinnamon
  • Matcha powder
  • Cocoa powder
  • Ginger powder
  • Açai powder
  • Maca powder
  • Spirulina
  • Wheatgrass powder

I hear you think:

Túrmeric in my smoothie?!

Oh yes indeed. Throw ’em all in. A teaspoon of turmeric or matcha powder alone is quite a challenge to swallow, but the great thing of smoothie bowls is that you don’t even notice you’ve put the stuff in there!

Tip 1: Did you use too much superfood powders through your smoothie bowl and does it taste like sh-something nasty? Then add a piece of banana. They’re magic, remember?

Tip 2: Nevermind the colour of the powers. Your smoothie will end up dark green or brown anyway because of the leafy greens you put in. That nice yellow (turmeric) or purple (acai) colour is only attainable if you use white-ish vegetables.


Illustration of a musclular monkey with biceps - Vegan Monky. Illustration by Brenda de Groot6. Plant-based Protein

How much:
Depends on the protein source

Why: 
Muscle grow, muscle recovery, satiety.

What:
Your options are: plant-based protein powder, soy products or legumes

Option 1: Plant-based protein powder

Half (15g) or whole (30g) scoop of plant-based protein powder. By using protein powder, your smoothie gets sweeter and thicker. Now you can add even more vegetables, superfood powders and water and still maintain a great taste! You can also cheaply compose your own protein blend. For example, buy a jar of unsweetened rice protein, hemp protein, pea protein or soy protein and mix them up. I combine protein from a seed or legume with rice protein, which makes a complete amino acid profile and thus complete protein [6]. You won’t need to worry about combining amino acids when you use soy, hemp or sprouted brown rice protein: these already have complete amino acid profiles. Amount: 15 – 30 grams.

Option 2: Soy

Add 50 – 100 grams soy yogurt or silken tofu to your smoothie bowl. Make sure you don’t buy firm tofu, because this will make your smoothie grainy and yuck. Soy yogurt is a great option if you don’t like the taste of tofu.

Option 3: Legumes

Yes you read that right: beans into your smoothie bowl. I’d recommend you to use more neutral-tasting beans, like navy beans, brown beans and canellini beans. 50 – 75 grams will add 4 – 7 grams of protein. Don’t use too much beans in your smoothie bowl, or it will end up as bean soup.


7. Toppings and Upgrades

How much:
Depends

Why:
A. Upgrades for more fibre, omega-3 and/or protein
B. Sweetenings for a better taste
C. Toppings for a nice crunch, interesting texture or pretty picture

7A. Upgrading your Smoothie Bowl

  • Oats: 1 – 3 tbsp (10 – 30 grams). Oats are fantastic: they contain a lot of fiber and protein [7], and will keep you full for a long time. Especially when you need the energy, I recommend you to add oats to your smoothie.
  • Buckwheat flakes: 1 – 3 tbsp (10 – 30 grams). If you want to be sure not to add any gluten to your smoothie bowl, then go for those flaky buckwheat version of oats.
  • Cooked quinoa: 50 – 75 grams. Do you have leftover cooked quinoa from your last meal? Good! Throw it into your smoothie bowl, as it adds extra fiber and protein [8].

7B. Sweetening your Smoothie Bowl

  • Medjool dates: 1 or 2. Or use 2 – 4 dried dates that you soaked for a few hours. Only add dates to sweeten your smoothie when you were a bit too enthusiastic with the superfood powders or vegetables, and you don’t have any fruit left in the house. Dates are high in sugars, as they are dehydrated. This also counts for other dried fruits.
  • Coconut sugar: 1 or 2 tbsp. Same story as for the dates: only use coconut sugar if you screwed up your smoothie bowl and the fresh fruit is finished. Coconut sugar is the only type of ‘sugary sugar’ I’d recommend using. It is an unrefined sugar – which means it still contains some vitamins and minerals. Also coconut sugar has a low Glycemic Index score (35 – 54) [9]. The reason for that is probably that it contains inulin, which acts as a soluble fiber instead of a sugar to your body [10].

7C. Toppings on your Smoothie Bowl

For a crunch, interesting texture or just a nice picture. I use about 1 – 2 tbsp when I use nuts, seeds or dried fruits like mulberries. Below you’ll find some ideas. Oh, and I also added the most important health benefits of the toppings between brackets. Illustration monkey making a smoothie bowl - Vegan Monky. Illustration by Brenda de Groot

  • Fresh fruits
  • Cacao nibs (antioxidants)
  • Shredded coconut (fiber)
  • Chia seeds (fiber)
  • Hemp seeds (protein)
  • Nutbutter (omega-3)
  • Whole nuts (omega-3)
  • Nut pieces (omega-3)
  • Almond flakes (omega-3)
  • Goji berries (antioxidants)
  • Mulberries (antioxidants)
  • Oatmeal (fiber)

Tip: Do you have sensitive teeth? Then don’t use hard toppings on an ice cold smoothie bowl.
I’ve been there, and it’s no good.


De gezondste smoothie bowl toppings: cacao nibs, hennepzaad, chiazaad en kokosrasp

The Uglier, The Better

There you are then. Standing in the kitchen with a blender full of green sludge. This magical mixture full of leafy greens may raise your body to a higher level, but your Instagram account – not so much.

Admittedly, it may not be as cute as this one, nor as arty as this. But like all other things in life, it’s all about what’s beneath the surface. Be proud of your hideous creation. Own it. Because for smoothies and smoothie bowls the following applies: the healthiest smoothie bowl is an ugly smoothie bowl.

Take that, Instagram.

Now let’s eat.

De gezondste smoothie bowl met toppings

This post is also available in NL

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