How to Build Your Own Instagram-Worthy Smoothie Bowl

locknloadlabrador/ iStock / Getty Images Plus
locknloadlabrador/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

Ah, the elusive smoothie bowl. How we adore thee from afar as we scroll through someone else’s feed. But guess what? Smoothie bowls don’t have to be a figment of your social media dreams. How to Build Your Own Instagram-Worthy Smoothie Bowl - They’re actually quite simple.

In fact, a smoothie bowl is really nothing more than a thick smoothie poured in a bowl and topped with your favorite additions. If you’re used to drinking a smoothie on the run, sitting down to a smoothie bowl can be a lot more satisfying. Plus, the texture and variety are really unbeatable — and worth it! Believe me, you really can’t go wrong here.

Add whatever you like, or use my fail-proof formula for the perfect smoothie bowl. How to Build Your Own Instagram-Worthy Smoothie Bowl -

Part I: The Smoothie Base

1 cup dairy-free liquid
Such as almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk or coconut water

Dairy-free options are great choices, but just be sure to use unsweetened varieties or you’re pretty much just getting sugar water. Making your own nut milks is ideal, but not necessarily realistic. If you plan to purchase them, first read the ingredient lists to find one made only with nuts, water and, perhaps, vanilla bean. You can use water, but the flavors will be more diluted and the smoothie will taste a bit watered-down.

1 cup fruit or vegetables
Alone or in combinations such as strawberry and banana; banana, beet and blueberry; or mango and pineapple

Aim for at least half of your fruit in your smoothie bowl to be frozen — this will help keep the perfect consistency without having to add a lot of ice, which equals lost flavor. Buying frozen fruit in bulk is cheaper. Or, if you buy it fresh, wash, dry and then freeze fruit flat on a cookie sheet before putting into bags in the freezer (otherwise, the fruit will stick together and you’ll end up needing to use an ice pick to make your smoothies).

½ cup ice
Or use more frozen fruit

Customize your smoothie to your preference. I prefer mine a little thicker if I’m pouring it in a bowl and eating it with a spoon and toppings, and a little thinner if I’m sipping it with a straw as I run out the door. If it ends up too thick, add more liquid until you reach your desired consistency.

1 scoop protein powder (optional)
Flavored or unflavored

You don’t have to add this, but I highly recommend it. You should aim to get a serving each of protein, a healthy fat and a complex carbohydrate at every meal, and if you skip out on the protein powder, you’re pretty much just having carbs. When choosing a protein powder, read the ingredient label and know exactly what you’re putting in your body. The best brands have no artificial sweeteners, preservatives or chemicals, and are made with organic, non-GMO ingredients.

1 tablespoon cacao powder (optional)

Sometimes I use protein powder that’s not chocolate flavored, but I still want that chocolate kick. So I’ll throw in a tablespoon of raw cacao powder, because, “Why not?”

1 tablespoon “superfood”
Such as spirulina, chlorella, hemp hearts, chia seeds, maca powder or nut butter

This is a great way to add an extra boost to your smoothie.

½ cup greens
Such as kale, spinach or chard

Because no smoothie is complete without some greens! How to Build Your Own Instagram-Worthy Smoothie Bowl - Kale, spinach and chard are my go-tos and can all be cleaned and frozen ahead of time.

Now, using a high-quality blender, start by blending the greens and the liquid first to ensure you don’t have any chunks. Then, add the rest of the ingredients above.

Part II: The Toppings

Choose what you want to add based on your desired flavors and textures. For my smoothie bowl pictured above, I added:

  • ½ tablespoon pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup shredded coconut
  • 1 tablespoon hemp hearts
  • Sliced fresh fruit
  • 1 tablespoon nuts or nut butter
  • 1 tablespoon granola
  • 1 tablespoon goji berries
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds

Part III: Getting Personal

Here’s where you can really make a smoothie bowl that fits your needs.

Are You Looking to Lose Weight?
Use berries instead of higher sugar fruits such as bananas, pineapple or oranges. The higher antioxidant count and lower fructose levels of berries will help to promote weight loss by keeping blood sugar steady and protecting cells from stress. And, add a natural fat such as half an avocado or a tablespoon of coconut oil to leave you feeling more satiated.

Is This Smoothie Bowl for a Child?
Use ½ scoop of protein powder instead of a full scoop, and be sure you’re using a product that is free of chemicals, preservatives and artificial sweeteners.

Are You an Endurance Athlete?
Use bananas, beets or other foods rich in complex starch to give you immediate energy to fuel a long workout. You can also add soaked oats or even cooked quinoa for an extra boost.

Are You a Breast-feeding Mother?
Add 1 to 2 teaspoons ground flaxseed, ¼ cup soaked oatmeal or ½ inch fresh ginger root (grated). These foods are considered galactagogues and can help to increase milk supply.

And, there you have it. Now, don’t mind me, I’ll just be over here dreaming about smoothie bowls for the rest of the day.

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Shannan Monson
Shannan Monson, RDN, NASM-CPT, is a nationally-recognized registered dietitian nutritionist, certified personal trainer and founder of the Nutrition Simply coaching program. Read her blog and follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.