By: Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD
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For on-the go meals, smoothies have been an option for years. From the franchises you see around town to the make-at-home versions you’ve tried in your own blender, these thick drinks — when made properly and enjoyed in appropriate portions — provide a healthy meal alternative.
But lately the trend is shifting from portable glasses to hearty bowls — and from grab and go to sit and enjoy. The “smoothie bowls” you’ve seen on Instagram or Pinterest take basic components of a smoothie, add less liquid and more thickening ingredients, and are topped with nutrient-dense, fiber-filled superfoods. Swap the straw for a spoon, and you’ve got a hearty dish.
For one thing, making a smoothie bowl instead of an on-the-go drink encourages you to slow down and practice mindful eating.
But perhaps more important, the bowl promotes variety in the form of toppings such as nuts, seeds and fruit. You end up with a combination of protein and fiber that leaves you feeling full without an intense spike in blood sugar.
One note of caution: The toppings you’ll see below are nutritional powerhouses such as nuts, seeds and grains. Those are ingredients you need, but an accidental overpour can leave you with more calories than you want. To prevent over-packing your bowl, use recipes and measuring spoons to limit your toppings and know just how much is going in your body.
Where to start
If you’ve made a smoothie, the basics below will look familiar.
The biggest difference is that for a bowl, you’ll increase the amount of thickeners and decrease the amount of liquids. Start by following recipes such as the ones listed below. If you’re adventurous, you can tinker with recipes to get just the right texture for you. In addition, rather than blending in nuts, seeds or other items for added nutrition, you’ll add them on top of the blended base and proteins — and enjoy their crunch with a spoon rather than through a straw.
Recipes will vary, but here’s a basic guide to bowls:
- Liquid: Unsweetened milk of your choice (almond, cow’s, rice, soy, coconut).
- Thickener: Plain, unsweetened yogurt (Greek is a great, high-protein option) or avocado.
- Sweeteners: Fruit (frozen provides a thicker texture, typically ¼ to ½ cup), dried medjool dates, pumpkin puree.
- Fiber: Veggies such as spinach, kale and carrots, or psyllium husks.
- Ice: Optional, based on how you like your texture.
- Powder: Choose an option with no added sugar, such as spirulina powder or pea protein.
- Nut butters: Unsweetened peanut butter, almond butter, sun butter, etc. (2 tablespoons is a good rule of thumb).
- Seeds: Chia, ground flax, pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts, pomegranate seeds.
- Nuts: Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts.
- Grains: Granola, quinoa puffs, soaked oats, muesli.
- Flavors: Cinnamon, ginger, cocoa nibs.
- Texture: Unsweetened coconut flakes, raisins, goji berries.
Sample smoothie bowl recipes
You can experiment with turning your favorite smoothie recipes into bowls, but here are two recipes to get you started.