What’s the point of putting a smoothie in a bowl? I’m glad you asked. Aside from food-bloggers using these artful concoctions to blow up your Instagram feed, it’s a sophisticated twist on the traditional straw-sipping style. It also provides some nutritional advantages. Eating it with a spoon allows for the smoothie to be much thicker, so you can pack in more fitness-boosting ingredients—like protein powder, yogurt, nut butter, or avocado. The addition of a bowl makes it feel more like a meal, and it easily becomes one with generous layers of whole-food toppings. Is this possible in a cup? I think not.
Making smoothie bowls is clearly not rocket-science, but they are genius for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s a fancy way to eat more plants and superfood ingredients. Healthy meals are most appealing when they’re simple to make, yet full of bright colors, textures and flavors. The number of healthful combinations is limited only by your imagination and taste preferences. And it’s a great way to showcase some artistic flare while still being entirely functional.
But don’t let the smoothie bowl’s good looks fool you; it can deliver an intense amount of nutrition. This recipe features an ancient ingredient that’s been lining the health-food isle for a while—maca root. While you may have yet to incorporate it in to your superfood arsenal, it’s been a treasured staple of the Peruvian diet for thousands of years for its nutritional and medicinal benefits.
Maca is considered the highest altitude crop cultivated in the world. It grows as a turnip-like root vegetable in the Andes Mountains at elevations of 11,000 feet and above, where it withstands extreme cold, sunlight, and blistering winds. It’s believed to impart its ability to thrive in rugged conditions by decreasing sensitivity to stress, a quality belonging to a rare class of herbs known as adaptogens. These healing plants help restore balance and protect the body from illness by lowering the stress-hormone cortisol.
In addition, some research studies have found evidence that maca root also balances hormones, increases energy and enhances mood. While its use is not part of mainstream medicine, it is well-established in phytotherapy, a science-based medical practice based on the therapeutic properties of plants.
Maca is perfect for adding protein, iron and tons of vitamins and minerals to your smoothie bowls. Top with cacao nibs—nature’s healthy chocolate—and it becomes a smoothie sundae you can eat any time of day. And the best part, it tastes as good as it looks.
-2 frozen bananas
-1 Tb maca root powder
-1 Tb chia seeds
-¼ cup plain greek yogurt
-1 Tb peanut butter
-½ cup almond milk
-Toppings: sliced strawberries, slivered almonds, cacao nibs
Place all ingredients (except toppings) in a high powered blender.
Blend for 30 seconds.
Scoop smoothie into a bowl and arrange toppings.
Ashley Sigmund is Paste’s Recipe for Fitness columnist. She is a Denver-based RDN with ten years in the medical field helping patients and clients improve their health.