Allow me to out myself first: Smoothie bowls are not my most favorite breakfast. Now that we have set that straight let me tell you a bit about my reasons and what I have observed about these very attractive looking super bowls that seem to be taking everyone by storm and is the big trend raging through social media and across many blogs. I also break down the smoothie bowl and consider the practicality of the super smoothie bowl vs. the real smoothie bowl! Oh yes there are many questions I need answers to!
Those who visit me here often will know how big I am on breakfast. As I often have a very busy schedule during the day I make sure to feed my body and my mind properly right at the start of the day. It is not only my favorite meal of the day but a vital one. Once I have had a good nutritional breakfast I know that
- I won’t be snacking and picking at food all day
- My sugar levels are balanced and I will not suffer any bouts of dizziness
- If I have to miss lunch I am still going to be fine
What does like my breakfast look like? Well have a look at my breakfast of champions and see for yourself!
When it comes to smoothies I prefer them in a tall glass or bottle rather than in a bowl. If I want the toppings and fruit I prefer to have them over unsweetened natural or almond yogurt or in the winters over porridge. So the smoothie bowl does not have it easy with me unfortunately.
Let’s go back a few steps though. If you are unfamiliar with the super smoothie bowls – where have you been all this time? – they are just regular smoothies, a little thicker and served in a bowl with a spoon! A selection of toppings, ranging from fruit, seeds, nuts, chocolate, and so on, are very artistically arranged on top of the super smoothies.
So how did this very elementary dish get so hyped? I personally believe the hype originated – as do most hypes these days – from Instagram. Many of the wellness gurus and / or social media influencers needed to create something that not only looked sexy and extremely photogenic on a photograph but also some new, over-the-top creation to garner more likes, comments and followers. It did not take very long for this breakfast, in all its prettiness, to boom across social media and food blogs.
My issue with many super smoothie bowls I see on social media is the practicality of the whole dish. The more I looked at the pictures of super smoothie bowls the more questions buzzed through my head.
Are these bowls really edible?
Why is there a carved mango with the peel on, on top – how does one eat that without making a mess?
How long did it take to carve all the figs, kiwis, dragonfruit in the shapes of hearts, flowers?
Why is the peel still on, on those orange slices?
Why are there so many inedible flowers on that bowl?
Is that really a smoothie under all that – I thought it was a fruit basket?
Why are the green tops still on the strawberries?
Why is there a bowlful of frozen fruit on top on the smoothie?
Why are the lychees only peeled on the tops?
Why is there a huge slab of chocolate on top (ok I can work with this one)?
Why is the thick smoothie oozing over the rim of the bowl – so messy?
As a food photographer and stylist I totally get the idea of making food look attractive for a picture. I mean it’s my job; it’s what I talk about in all the workshops and e-courses I give. Right there with you on making it pretty, appealing, appetizing and mouthwatering. However, even while taking care to create tempting and pretty food photos a couple of things must not be forgotten – the truth and the common sense.
One would never place a corkscrew next to a bottle of beer regardless of how vintage, amazing or unique the corkscrew looked. Nor would one cover up a perfectly grilled T-bone steak in an overload of vegetables or sauce, regardless how fresh and colorful it made the picture look. Right?
I am not entirely scorning the good-looking super smoothie bowl – they truly are works of art. Being a curious and inquiring person I am always keen to try out something to make my own opinion. The basic idea of a smoothie bowl is great – an easy, filling and often a nutritional way to enjoy fruit, vegetables and proteins to kick-off the day. Adding simple and fuss-free toppings give more time to eat rather than carving and shaping!
Why not take this Instagram super smoothie bowl breakfast trend and make it a power “real” breakfast? No one said you cannot make the simpler version also look good!
I took the challenge and went about putting together my smoothie bowl with some fresh ingredients and uncomplicated toppings. Something that is easy to make and that I could really eat with a spoon and not need my fingers or a knife J I also broke down the components of creating such a bowl for those of you who have enjoyed looking at all the pretty pictures but were feeling overwhelmed by the task. They do not take much time to make – if you stick to simple toppings that is. Furthermore, just like a regular smoothie I personally enjoy pairing flavors of fruit and vegetables together. I like my smoothie bowls thicker – if I am going to be spooning it then it should have the thick creamy soft-serve-like consistency. If you prefer your smoothie bowl thinner add more liquid than I did.
While it can be tempting to dress up your bowls with lots of fruit, granola, chocolate and other toppings, be mindful of portion size. All those extras can make the calories and sugar content skyrocket. Additionally, aim for a proper balance between carbohydrates, fats and proteins. For instance, if you incorporate a heaping amount of dates to the smoothie base, use them and other sweet toppings like chocolate, sparingly or consider a different unsweetened add-on.
The Key Components of a Real Smoothie Bowl
- Thickening Protein – roughly about 2 tablespoons: nut butters, Greek, coconut or almond yogurt, protein powder (can be plant-based), hemp seeds. If you want to experiment try tofu or cooked kidney beans.
- Liquid: between 60ml to 120ml depending on your other ingredients: coconut water, milk, nut milks, veggie or fruit juices or just water. Start with a little and gradually add a small amount at a time to ensure you achieve your desired consistency.
- Fruit to thicken – around 250 to 300g: frozen fruit is the best to really thicken the smoothie up and give it that soft-serve like consistency. If you are using fresh fruit just make sure to add some ice cubes. Fresh fruit like apples, pineapples or peaches are great, while bananas, berries and mangoes work extremely well frozen.
- Vegetables – approximately a handful: kale, red cabbage, beets, baby spinach, chard, cucumber or lettuce are all vegetables I have used in my smoothies and love when paired with the fruit. You can also try celery, carrots and pumpkins as popular smoothie veggie bases.
- Healthy fats – about 1 to 2 tablespoons: avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut oil
- Toppings – a tablespoon each: granola, shredded unsweetened coconut, fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, chia / flax seeds, cocoa nibs, bee pollen, dark chocolate or muesli – if you are going to use flowers, make sure they actually are edible. Limit yourself to 2 to 4 toppings max to ensure that you do not have an extreme intake of sugars and calories.
I reached out to my Facebook friends and group buddies to check how they were creating their smoothie bowls. I wanted help from them to find some pretty yet realistic and simple smoothie bowls where everyone can actually enjoy eating breakfast. They did not let me down! Over on the Pinterest board “The Real Smoothies” you will find an awesome selection of beautiful, healthy and practical smoothie bowls. We hope these ideas stimulate your appetite!
In my smoothie bowl I experimented with adding some rosewater for a bit of an exotic flavor and yes – I used edible organic rose buds to give it the extra pretty look! Besides the frozen raspberries and banana, I use nut butter and avocado to thicken the smoothie further and for the extra healthy fats and protein. I chose the lighter coconut water instead of milk to reduce additional intake of calories and while the milk will give you a thicker consistency by adding more fruit and using coconut water you have a healthier version of the smoothie. Although the passion fruit half is placed directly in the smoothie bowl (I washed it well before), the pulp can easily be scooped up with the spoon. My other toppings include a tablespoon of my almond butter seed fruit and nut granola, which is gluten free and vegan and contains gorgeous nutty, seedy and dried fruit goodness. And because I love fresh raspberries – a small handful to make my pink prettiness complete.
- 1 frozen banana
- 250g frozen raspberries (or other berries)
- 1/2 avocado
- 100ml coconut water
- 50ml rosewater
- 2 tablespoons almond butter
- 50g fresh raspberries
- 1 passion fruit
- 60-80g from my Almond Butter Seed Fruit and Nut Granola
- Add all ingredients into a blender (except for the granola, fresh raspberries and passion fruit) and process until smooth.
- Pour into serving bowl and garnish with fresh raspberries, the granola and passion fruit cut in half. Great to scoop out with the smoothie.
Those of us who spend time in the kitchen making real food for our families will know what it means to be making easy simple, meals everyday. Although I have a pretty independent teen at home my day is packed with work at the university, photo jobs and projects or travel assignment. Add to that time to manage the family and home – I am sure many of you will relate with me. While I am very keen on the aesthetics of making food look good – even when it is not a hero of one of my photo shoots – I am particular that it remains within the realms of “real food”! Smoothie bowls if prepared with good, healthy ingredients and for a proper meal rather that just for the social media can be a great and quick breakfast for busy days.
My raspberry rose coconut smoothie bowl brings it all together as I envisage a smoothie bowl to be – fuss-free yet with all the important aspects needed for a breakfast. It also fits the vegan, gluten-free and grain-free diet if you are following any of these. To top it off it really looks good too! I hope this post helps you to build your perfect smoothie bowl to fit your lifestyle. My friends have given perfect and appetizing ideas of how a range of ingredients can be used to fit any diet.
Rome 2017 | Food Photography and Styling Retreat
Power-packed 2-day photography retreat in the stunning rolling hills of Sabina!
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Meet like-minded people and focus on your passion for food / lifestyle photography in a positive and encouraging environment. I believe in providing a memorable experience – be it the stunning landscapes, the delectable dishes we cook, the knowledgeable tours we take and the incredible insight of the people connected with the workshops.
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