We’ve all seen stunning, colorful photos of smoothie bowls online and wondered…“How do they do that?” Well, I decided to find out.
I started to experiment to see just how easy it is to recreate these bowls at home. Not only did I find out I could, but I learned there’s more to a smoothie bowl than just good looks. They not only are filled with healthy ingredients, but bring out my creative juices for ingredients and toppings! Just follow these tips and you, too, can create your own insta-worthy inspirations!
It’s all about that base ’bout that base
My favorite smoothie base is frozen pitaya (dragonfruit) which is a gorgeous bright pink color. I source mine from Pitaya Plus online. Not only are they the #1 supplier of organic frozen dragonfruit in the world, but they’ve recently been declared a registered B Corp! This means that while they are a for-profit company, they follow rigid social and environmental guidelines. Plus, giving back is built into their business model. Win-Win!
My other go-to fruit base for smoothie bowls is frozen acai. A favorite child of the health-food movement, acai sprung onto the superfood scene a few years ago and has never left. I prefer the organic pre-portioned packets available in the frozen section of my local Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or other health food store. Even the Mayo Clinic has jumped on the acai train and describes these Brazilian berries as containing antioxidants, fiber, and heart-healthy fats! I use a cup each of frozen pitaya or acai for my smoothie bowls.
You may also decide to skip the frozen acai and pitaya in favor of the fruits in powder form. The powders are readily available on Amazon. I’ve bought the Wilderness Poets Freeze Dried Dragon Fruit Powder and Navitas Organics Acai Powder, If you choose this route, I recommend adding at least a cup of frozen mangoes to help with the consistency. Mangoes have some killer health benefits, like being high in fiber, vitamin C, and folic acid.
Greens are king
I prefer spinach, since it’s so mild in taste, readily available, and contains calcium, iron, potassium, niacin, vitamin A, B, and B 12 among other vital nutrients. Spinach is even said to help lower blood pressure and has anti-inflammatory properties. I include at least 1/2 cup-1 cup in every smoothie because it’s such a powerhouse green!
Pro tip: Fresh spinach goes bad quickly, so I tend to buy chopped frozen spinach for smoothie use. But when I do buy it fresh, my favorite brand is Organic Girl, as it comes pre-washed (three times!)
If you’re into kale, that’s another super healthy option. But in my opinion, spinach pairs so much better with every flavor combination you can think of!
In order to obtain a thicker, creamy smoothie bowl that doesn’t melt immediately, I usually include half to a full frozen banana to my concoctions. I’ve subbed frozen zucchini for this, too, to sneak in some more veggies, but prefer the subtle sweetness of bananas. If done correctly, it’s almost like you get to eat ice cream for breakfast, but it’s actually good for you!
Pro Tip: Peel your bananas before freezing and keep in individual bags to retain freshness. Also, Trader Joe’s always has the cheapest bananas!
Til the cows come home
One of the most important pieces to a healthy smoothie bowl is the milk choice. I prefer non-dairy options, specifically cashew milk, almond milk, or oat milk. And I do have favorite brands.
Forager Project has a great cashew milk that I usually pick up at my local Whole Foods. It’s a fairly new California-based company. I always use up the 48 oz container before its expiration date, which helps me to reduce my food waste.
For almond milk, my brand of choice is the Whole Foods in-store brand, 365 foods. Their organic unsweetened almond milk is always a couple dollars cheaper than other options, tastes great, and I love that the carton is easy pour with a screw top lid.
Oatly is an incredible oat-based milk from Sweden that’s been revolutionizing the dairy-free market for 25 years. I can get it locally in midtown Omaha at the vegan coffee parlor, Amateur Coffee, but Amazon has the Oatly Plus-Oat-Drink, too. It’s noteworthy because the mouth feel is close to whole milk, so it feels really indulgent despite being dairy-free.
Pro tip: Stay away from flavored milks and choose the plain, unsweetened varieties to avoid extra sugar sneaking into your smoothie. There’s enough natural sugar from the fruit to make it plenty sweet without adding more.
You spin me right round
Of course you can’t have a beautiful smoothie bowl without the proper blender. The Mercedes Benz of blenders is the Vitamix, which has so many other uses I’ve lost count. The price tag is pretty steep though, so if you’re not quite ready for that investment, I have another useful option. I love my Ninja Fit Blender. It makes it so convenient to create the right portion size and handily turns into a to-go cup if I need to run out to a meeting. At just $50, this is a more budget-friendly choice for smoothie bowl newbies.
T is for Toppings
The last step to a beautiful smoothie bowl is to choose garnishes. You can mix and match these, but at any given time in my fridge + pantry, I have the following:
- Granola and my favorite is Purely Elizabeth’s Ancient Grain granola (gluten free)
- Freeze-dried raspberries for extra fiber, since fresh ones go bad so quickly
- Sun Potion astragalus, an Eastern herb said to boost immunity and energy
- Maca powder for hormone health
- Moringa powder for iron, calcium, and vitamin C
- Chia seeds for omega-three fatty acids
- Hemp hearts which are a complete protein with both soluble and insoluble fiber
- Dried goji berries for antioxidants plus macro and micro nutrients
- Edible flowers such as dried rose, hibiscus, and lavender (food grade, organic only to avoid pesticides). Hibiscus has anti-inflammatory properties, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, and is linked to improved digestion and mood enhancement. Ingesting lavender may help with headaches, bloating, anxiety, and prevent hair loss. Rose was used by the ancient Chinese to treat digestive disorders, pain from injuries, and menstrual irregularities. Plus, rose petals also contain Vitamin C.
- Cacao nibs since they are an alleged mood enhancer with potassium and magnesium
I usually choose a few toppings each time, rotating so I can reap the varied health benefits of them all. I also generally follow the serving sizes listed on the packaging, which helps me make sure my bowl isn’t a caloric bomb. And, I buy organic whenever possible!
Don’t be intimidated by this lengthy list of garnishes. I’ve built up my natural foods pantry over the years. Start with whatever looks the most appetizing or is most readily available based on your location. You can always add a handful of fresh fruit or a cleverly cut kiwi to the top too. Get creative, have fun, and eat your way to better health!
How do you make your insta-worthy smoothie bowls?
A Minnesota native, Katy is a freelance travel, food, and lifestyle writer currently based in Omaha, Nebraska. Besides contributing to the LifeDoneWell brand, Katy is a contributing writer and content creator for a variety of other print and digital outlets including Travel Awaits, The Reader, google’s Touring Bird, Matador Network, and Modern Mississauga. She was also a popular Bridal Blogger for Wedding Essentials Magazine, an Omaha World Herald publication.