How to prepare a smoothie bowl correctly (without making it full of calories and sugar)

Carrot cake flax meal bowl pourI am now affiliated with Omniblend Australia. I was quite keen to establish this relationship because I have had my high-speed 1.5L OmniBlend V for over 5 years and I use it all the time to make smoothie bowls for breakfast and tasty and healthy desserts.

Please don’t be put off by this affiliate relationship. I enjoy chronicling my whole food, refined carbohydrate free recipes and researching and writing on topics in health, nutrition and athletic performance, but this takes time. So receiving some financial support would make my blogging experience all the more enjoyable.

I consider myself a person with integrity so I will explain to you exactly why I am happy to recommend OmniBlend high-speed blenders.

Firstly, let’s get one thing clear. I believe that smoothies and smoothie bowls are a bit of a fad in the health space. You do not need to make a beautiful acai bowl everyday to be healthy. Getting regular exercise and eating a diet containing plenty of vegetables, lean meats, eggs, fermented dairy, legumes, beans and some nuts, seeds and fruits will also set you up to be quite healthy.

I personally enjoy smoothie bowls for a number of reasons, which I will describe below, but they must be prepared correctly. Smoothies can be a source of many, many calories in the form of fructose from too much fruit or honey, or in the form of sucrose (common sugar) from sweetened frozen yoghurts. People drink them under the illusion that they are ‘healthy’, however, in reality they can contain as many calories and carbohydrates as a chocolate bar. Sure there is more nutritional value in a fruit smoothie than a chocolate bar, but if you are trying to lose weight a smoothie filled with fruits, juice and honey is not the best option. Plus I find that drinking my breakfast does not leave me satisfied and I am tempted to seek out more food.

Here are some guidelines to follow to ensure that you create a lower carbohydrate, high protein, nutritional and satisfying smoothie bowl that you can enjoy on a regular basis:

  • Use minimal fruit – don’t throw 2 bananas, an apple and an orange into your blender to make your smoothie bowl. If you are going to use fruit stick to ½ cup of frozen berries or pitted cherries or 1 small frozen orange.
  • Add a serving of a good quality whey or plant based protein powder – I realize that protein powder is not a ‘whole food’ but I don’t always feel like or have the time for eggs for breakfast so protein powder is a convenient way to boost the protein content of your smoothie bowl while adding texture and flavour. My favourite whey protein powder is Glyco-Whey from Syntec and my favourite plant-based protein powder is Power Plant Protein from Prana ON. Both are fairly pricy but worth it for the quality. I like to cycle between the two as I believe too much whey may not be good for your health long term.
  • Use low fat coconut milk, coconut water, plain Greek yoghurt and/or cottage cheese as liquid – avoid using high sugar juices as the liquid base for your smoothies. Instead try the options I have listed as they are low in carbohydrates, fairly low in calories and the yoghurt and cottage cheese increase the protein content.
  • Throw in some greens – I always use frozen spinach in my smoothie bowls for extra vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre and to help thicken the mixture. If you have any other greens that are getting a bit old, such as kale or baby spinach, throw them in your blender. Avocado is another great addition (remember it is higher in calories, however). If you are concerned about the taste I can assure you that the other ingredients mask the flavour.
  • Add in cocoa powder or flavour extracts for some variety.
  • Use at least one tray of ice cubes – ice thickens your smoothies turning them into a meal that you can eat from a bowl. I mentally feel more satisfied knowing that I have eaten my breakfast.
  • Add some additional fibre by adding a tablespoon of flax meal, psyllium husks or chia seeds. A word of warning regarding flax meal and psyllium husks: both are very high in dietary fibre and will likely cause you to use the bathroom more frequently than normal if you use too much.
  • Sprinkle some coconut flakes, shredded coconut, seeds, nuts or cocoa nibs on top of your smoothie for extra nutrients and texture. Don’t go too crazy with the nuts and seeds if you are actively trying to lose weight.

So there are my guidelines for preparing smoothie bowls based on my personal opinion, as well as my many, many years of reading scientific literature on weight loss and nutrition. It is a fact that excess refined carbohydrates are detrimental to your health in multiple ways, hence why I follow a diet as low in refined carbohydrates as possible (the occasional ice cream, pizza and beer is not going to cause too much damage, especially before a big race).

Now let me tell you why I enjoy smoothie bowls. Firstly, smoothie bowls are quick and easy to prepare. I am up between 4:00 – 4:30am most mornings to train before work, be it running on the trails, hill training, running intervals, mountain biking, road biking, strength training or paddling. I then need to quickly fuel myself, while checking emails or social media, to prepare for a minimum of 8 hours in the lab. My work day involves designing and executing experiments, not only for myself but also for students, meetings with my boss or other work colleagues to discuss data or new ideas, collating data and writing scientific papers. In other words, I’m pretty busy. Making a smoothie bowl for breakfast allows me to quickly throw everything into my OmniBlend, blend for 5 minutes (I’m usually making coffee during this period), pour it into a bowl and eat with a spoon.

Secondly, I can make smoothie bowls very nutrient dense. I can throw in a combination of spinach, kale, flax meal, coconut milk, cottage cheese, Greek yoghurt, berries, nut butter or cocoa powder, along with ice and a good quality whey or plant based protein powder and I end up with a mixture of protein, good quality fats, dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals.

Finally, I quite like the taste and texture. A delicious cold smoothie bowl after training, especially in summer, loaded with protein and some fat is a great way to recover.

My relationship with OmniBlend means that if you purchase an OmniBlend product through my affiliate link (http://www.omniblendaustralia.com.au/ref/54/) I will receive a small commission. The price of the 1.5L OmniBlend V with a 7 year warranty and free shipping is $379AUD. All OmniBlend machines have a heavy duty 3HP/2238 Watt motor, full stainless steel 6 blade assembly and a BPA free jug. If we compare this to the 1.2L S30 high-performance blender from Vitamix, which has only a 790 Watt or 1HP motor, it has a recommended retail price of $845AUD. That is a significant difference in price and I believe the OmniBlend is the superior machine. After 5 years of use I replaced the blade in my OmniBlend for $59AUD with free shipping and it is working better than ever. I apologise for turning into a salesperson but I honestly believe in this product and am happy to promote this brand, not only for making breakfasts, but also for making frozen desserts, dips and nut and coconut butters.

OK, enough promoting the OmniBlend. Here are some smoothie bowl recipes I have recently used my OmniBlend to make.

Chocolate raspberry smoothie bowlChocolate raspberry green smoothie bowl

This smoothie bowl is a tasty combination of chocolate and raspberries with frozen spinach for extra vitamins and minerals.

Makes 1 serve

Ingredients

½ cup frozen raspberries

1 cup low fat coconut milk

¼ cup Greek yoghurt

3 tablespoons cocoa powder

4 blocks frozen spinach

1 tablespoon psyllium husks or flax meal (for extra fibre)

1 tray of ice cubes

1 serve of a good quality whey or plant based protein powder (vanilla flavour)

Nuts, seeds, coconut, cocao nibs or anything nutritious to sprinkle on top

Utensils

Measuring cups and spoons

High-speed blender (I use an Omniblend – buy yours here)

Method

  • Place all the ingredients into a high-speed blender. Blend on medium to high for at least 5 minutes until the mixture is smooth and of an even consistency. Use the tamper (the mixing stick I guess you would say) to stir during blending.

Carrot cake flax meal bowl

Carrot cake flax meal breakfast bowl

This is an interesting concoction I came up with. It tastes like a smooth creamy, spicy carrot cake without all the calories and refined carbohydrates. The flax meal adds a decent amount of dietary fibre while the cottage cheese provides some protein. Top this bowl with some nuts, seeds and/or coconut to make it more satisfying.

Makes 1 serve

Ingredients

1 medium carrot, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons flax meal

½ cup cottage cheese

½ cup low fat coconut milk

1 tablespoon erythritol/stevia blend (I use Natvia)

A few drops vanilla extract

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Utensils

Chopping board

Sharp knife

Measuring cups and spoons

High-speed blender (I use an OmniBlend – buy yours here)

Method

  • Place all the ingredients into a high-speed blender. Blend on medium to high for at least 5 minutes until the mixture is smooth and of an even consistency. Use the tamper to stir during blending.

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