They come in a kaleidoscope of colours and look good enough to hang in a gallery – let alone gobble up. The ‘Smoothie Bowl’ is the latest breakfast trend and has taken instragram by storm; there have been over 400K pictures posted in recent weeks. For the uninitiated, smoothie bowls can be made with anything from frozen banana, mango and coconut cream to dragon fruit, granola and almond milk, with an array of nuts, seeds and other toppings.
So, how can something saturated in superfoods not be healthy? First, let’s put things in perspective. Eating a smoothie bowl is far better for you than munching something bought in a box, stripped of nutrients, covered in processed sugar and then fortified with synthetic vitamins. It’s also better than starting the day with a few slices of white toast, especially when you consider that a third of British bread may contain a toxic weedkiller*.
However, smoothie bowls can be too much of a good thing. Here we cut through the hype and look at how to build the perfect bowl without ending up bloated, with swollen lips (bee pollen is not for everyone) or hypoglycemia.
Fruit, friend or foe?
Fruit is filled with phytonutrients and should not be demonized. Nutrients like anthocyanins in berries and vitamin C from kiwi-fruit – are powerful antioxidants, which can help us scavenge free radicals and fight premature ageing and disease. Nonetheless, when we consume too much fruit in one sitting our blood sugar levels soar and then nosedive. This in turn sends our adrenals into overdrive, pumping out a combination of cortisol and adrenaline. Cue agitation followed by apathy. So when you pack a smoothie bowl with one large banana, two cups of pineapple, plus 250ml rice milk and granola (even if it is made with maple syrup) beware that mood swings might follow. It’s also worth remembering that fruit is high in fructose. While the body uses glucose for energy, fructose is metabolized in the liver and stored as fat. Fructose can also increase our appetite.*
How to Balance Blood Sugar
The answer? Fibre and fat are your friends. Fibre helps you feel fuller for longer, while healthy fat helps to stabilize blood sugar levels. Chia seeds are one of the highest forms of fibre on the planet, so fill your next smoothie bowl with two tablespoons of these seeds (or one generous scoop of oatmeal). Coconut yoghurt is also a great addition, as the medium-chain fatty acids have been shown to boost the immune system* as well as help with weight loss.* When it comes to milks, stick to unsweetened almond milk or oat milk and avoid rice milk, which is higher on the glycemic index.
Finally, to fruit. High-sugar options like banana and mango should be limited to one per bowl; one medium banana contains 14g of sugar and half a mango contains the same. Put them together and you’re close to your daily limit (30g) according to new government guidelines on sugar consumption. Also watch out for dried fruit as when the water is removed the sugar is concentrated. Half a cup of fresh apricots contains 7g of sugar while half a cup of dried apricots contains a whopping 34 g.
The Balanced Smoothie Bowl
Blend the Following:
1 medium banana (sliced and frozen)
2 tablespoons of chia seeds
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon of hemp seeds
1 scoop of coconut yoghurt
1 teaspoon cacao or chlorella powder from Inspiral *
1 teaspoon of cacao nibs
3 walnuts and 3 brazil nuts chopped
Sprinkle of blueberries
Laura Bond is a journalist author and health coach. She specializes in helping clients beat stress, reduce their toxic load and prepare their bodies for babies.