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Smoothie bowl inspiration with Zel Garcia!

As someone who has a passion for food, art and wellness, I am in love with smoothie bowls! I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of them on the ‘gram — laid out perfectly in a bowl with all the superfood toppings and color-coordinated fruits in pretty shapes, looking so damn amazing that you almost couldn’t eat them. While smoothie bowls definitely hit the mark when it comes to making food look pretty, there is absolutely more to it that makes it special.

Personally speaking, I love smoothie bowls because the routine of making it makes me energetic and pumped up for the day. I find cooking in general to be therapeutic, most especially when I get the chance to experiment, be creative and have a whole lot of fun in the process. Smoothie bowls tick all of these boxes for me: I get to share my artistic side and it’s totally fun to make! I feel even better knowing that these bowls I'm making everyday are jam-packed with amazing nutrients that support my overall health and wellness, not to mention they are also easy to prepare and require very little time.


How my smoothie bowl journey started

My journey with smoothie bowls started when I visited Bali a few years ago. On our last day, while visiting one of the few cafes there, I spotted a smoothie bowl being served to the table across mine. I was intrigued by the sight of it, but never really had the chance to try it. I forgot about it for a short while after coming back home to NZ, then one day I randomly thought of experimenting with ice creams from scratch. During this time, I began considering how I can take better care of myself and being more mindful of what I put in my body (thinking that maybe making my own ice cream is better than getting the store-bought ones.) While I was working on the consistency of my ‘nice cream’, I suddenly remembered these smoothie bowls and instantly thought of giving it a try, and it was from that moment on that I spent countless days making smoothie bowls and experimenting on different ways I can do it. Too much fun and obsession about it became evident in my Instagram posts, and fast forward to today — I’ve actually led multiple smoothie bowl workshops here in Auckland, remotely and overseas. I feel very grateful to have shared to the world via my little community how amazing these smoothie bowls are and how it’s become a game-changer in the food and wellness industry.

My first ever workshop in the Philippines


Smoothie bowl workshop in AKL - a fundraising activity to raise funds to families who have been affected from the Christchurch bombing incident last 2019


Last smoothie bowl workshop was a fundraising activity for SCOT Foundation, as part of my Miss Asia Pacific / Miss Globe NZ pageantry journey


Nutritional value in smoothie bowls

One of the things I also like about smoothie bowls is that you can really get a lot of macro and micro nutrients in a bowl. Of course, it depends on what ingredients you use and what your nutrition goal is, but you can certainly boost your intake of fruits and veggies in a single meal. If, for instance, your goal is to add more greens into your meals, then you can go for a green smoothie bowl with loads of spinach and other fruits. I love using baby spinach in most of my green smoothies; most fruits would mask the mild ‘green’ taste of it, though you could barely pick it out. Spirulina, a superfood rich in Vitamin C, K and protein, is also a good thing to add to green smoothies if green leafy produce is not available for you.

If you’re someone who wants to increase your fiber intake, you can make your smoothie bowls with oats, ground flaxseeds (linseeds), chia seeds or use fiber-rich fruits like bananas, strawberries and raspberries. Likewise, if you are a gym junkie and you’re looking for that post-workout protein boost, you can use nut milks, almond butter, chia or even a scoop of your favorite protein powder. You can also use smoothie bowls to your advantage on days when you’re feeling a little bit under the weather and need a good dose of Vitamin C — adding fruits like oranges, mandarin, kiwi and pineapples on your bowl can help your body load up with the nutrients it needs to recover and feel better. The beauty of these smoothie bowls is that they are versatile and can be easily tweaked to your liking and nutritional needs.


Tools to get started, and make it pretty on the gram ;)

A must-have tool to make smoothie bowls is a good blender. I’ve tried many different blenders that are out in the market, but my absolute favorite is my Vitamix. It is such a powerful, quality appliance, and I really like that I can make a few batches in one go. I’ve also used some of the small handheld ones like Magic Bullet and Nutribullet, and they work amazing and more fit for single-serve smoothie bowls.


Working with a powerful blender is great, but I would say that you can definitely achieve it still with less powerful ones by working on different blending techniques.


Blender i love


When it comes to making ‘IG worthy’ smoothie bowls, I’d say that a good-looking bowl and spoon is a factor. I personally prefer the tropical and lushy feel I get from using coconut bowls and wooden spoons — not to mention they are sustainable and eco-friendly, too!


On using coconut bowls


Alright, let’s get down to the recipes


An easy-peasy green smoothie / an alternative recipe could be done with spinach leaves, chopped pineapple, frozen bananas, ½ cup coconut milk, ¼ cup pineapple juice. Full recipe on link.


The classic berry smoothie. From when I started to now, I still use berries a lot in my smoothies and smoothie bowls as they are easily accessible. You can never really go wrong with the classic banana + berry combination. This 'Pretty in Pink' Smoothie Bowl is another take on the famous combo and how you can finish it off with cute apple-fan toppings - you can also see it in action here.


A smoothie bowl that takes you to the tropics, with a hint of turmeric and chai. You can also make use of the same base recipe and decorate it with bananas and chia pudding on top, like what i did here. Smoothie base recipe: 1 cup each of: milk, frozen bananas, mangoes, yogurt / optional honey 1-2 tbsp


The most interesting part about this smoothie is that it actually has avocado and spinach in it! I masked the so-called ‘green’ taste with cocoa, banana and peanut butter and topped it all with crunchy nuts, seeds and cacao nibs.


Recipe: Blend together 2-3 small frozen bananas, coconut milk frozen on an ice tray (about 6-8 pieces), 3-4 teaspoon cacao, dash of cinnamon, half avocado, handful of baby spinach, and ⅛ cup almond milk. Top with sliced bananas, cacao nibs and linseeds or pumpkin seeds on top.



Photo credit by Karina Escalante and Richard Fischer - Zel holds the title Miss Globe NZ 2020 and represented New Zealand in Albania!


Before you smoothie bowl your way~


Looking at the recipes I shared, we know now that the possibilities are endless when it comes to smoothie bowls. This brings me to my next pro tip: always go for the good stuff! Think whole foods, nutrient-dense ingredients and go for fresh and organic produce if possible. When experimenting with flavors, consider the pairing of your smoothie bowl base and your toppings: both have to be complementary to each other. When you are using a fruity and tangy base, go for the sweet toppings like cacao nibs and bananas. The same goes for when you are creating a sweet and chocolatey smoothie base by adding less flavorful toppings like nuts and seeds (unless super-triple-mega-chocolatey is totally your jam.) Most importantly, never forget to have fun with it! I always share and emphasize this during my workshops, as I think it's the magical and beautiful aspect of it. Keep experimenting, and own the journey!


Finally, think of the person that you are becoming in the process of making it — how you’re becoming more intentional with the ways you nourish your body, and how you’re choosing to show up for yourself everyday with this simple and meditative routine. My wish is for you to experience your own magical smoothie moment and enjoy it the same way that I did. You totally deserve it!



Zel xx


For more smoothie and food-nspiration and thoughts on my personal journey to wellness, connect with me on Instagram: instagram.com/zelgarcia



Photo credit by Karina Escalante and Richard Fischer




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