Smoothie Bowls

I’m passionate about smoothie bowls…and often their ridiculousness.  Smoothie bowls seem and look so healthy, but often they are deceiving. I recently came back from a run and started ranting about smoothie bowls. Although to be fair, I often rant about many things after a run; something about the endorphins, I suppose.

Let’s talk about smoothie bowls…

Instagram famous, they are, those gorgeous smoothie bowls. They’re packed with health- Superfoods, Antioxidants, and Omega-3s! So, of course, they’re the ultimate health food, right? Errmmm….maybe not.

Pros– I love the crunchies (toppings- nuts, seeds, fruit, etc.) and the fact you EAT a smoothie bowl. Studies have shown that eating and chewing can help signal your brain that you’re full. So you’re more likely to listen to your body and know when it’s full. Satiety is important to know the right amount of food to eat.

Cons– Often smoothie bowls are very large portions with high calorie ingredients. Made with lots of fruit, granola, nuts & seeds, smoothie bowls can have lots of sugar and calories. While, fruit is good for you, overdoing it, isn’t good for you. I’ve seen smoothie bowls on menus with more calories than a meal! There often isn’t much protein, so it’s not a great choice for athletes or as a meal replacement. If you want a smoothie bowl to be a complete meal, make sure it has protein (look for dairy or plant based proteins).


Ask questions! Don’t be afraid to ask restaurants- what’s in your food and how they make it. I was recently a “secret shopper” at a cafe and the employee tried to explain to us, the base of their smoothie bowl. The base was banana, acai, and chaga tea. The acai smoothie bowl was served in a giant overflowing a container. I can only guess there was 2-3 bananas and lots of acai berries. If eating a banana by itself, I can usually only eat one; they’re very filling to me. Chaga tea is apparently medicinal mushroom tea, which seems a little over- hyped since there’s not much research on it (and also how much was really in the smoothie bowl).

Sharing! Large cafe acai smoothie bowls are be great for sharing between 2 people!

Example of large acai smoothie bowl

Make smoothie bowls at home! Pre-portion the ingredients and think about what you would normally eat. Would you normally eat 1 banana, 1 cup of yogurt, 1/2 a cup of berries, and some nuts? Then do that and make it a smoothie bowl. Make your smoothie bowl your own. Own it. Own your smoothie  bowl.

Simple smoothie bowl recipe

  • 1 cup of base (kefir, yogurt, milk, almond milk, etc.)
  • 1/2-1 cup frozen berries, mangoes, pineapple, etc.
  • 1/2-1 frozen banana
  • optional 1 single-serve packet of acai (trader joe’s)
  • Toppings- 1/4-1/2 cup granola, hemp seeds, chia seeds, etc.
  • Superfoods- experiment with 1 superfood at a time. Keep it simple is my motto. Goji berries, blue-green algae powder, kale, etc.

Also, check out these balanced smoothie bowl recipes.

Don’t fall into the hype of smoothie bowls! Many are hyped to be full of health, with an expensive price for frozen fruit. Instead, look for smoothie bowls with protein and properly portioned for you!

P.s. if you’re in Chicago, check out the Lifeway Kefir Shop. I’m thankfully to work for a company that supports health and doesn’t fall into the smoothie bowl hype. LKS’s smoothie bowls are all nutritionally-balanced with a few fruit servings, superfoods, and boast 20-37 grams of protein per bowl.




Protein Periodization

Protein Timing

The timing of protein is very important, because the body can only metabolize 20-25grams of protein at a time. Extra protein is turned into fat in the body. This is why spacing your protein throughout the day is important.

Protein Sources

A source of protein should be included at every meal and at snack time. This ensures fueling and refueling for muscle recovery.

Protein  Sources

2 lg  Egg, 12 g

16 oz  Milk, 16g

1 can  Tuna (5 oz) , 25g

6 oz  Chicken or Beef , 45g

Vegetarian Protein Sources

1/2 cup beans, 6g

1/4 cake tofu, 6-8g

2 TB peanut butter, 7-8g


As runners and athletes, typically carbohydrates are considered the most important and protein is perhaps forgotten. Protein is especially for important for recovery.  In order to build and repair muscle, protein is needed. How much depends on a few factors, your training, gender, weight, etc.

Dedicated Athletes: .8-1 g/ kg

Endurance athletes: > 1 hour a day, slightly more protein, 1.2-1.4g/ kg

Resistance Athletes: Strength trainers- 1.6-1.7g/kg

Meatless? Monday and Protein

So, its another Meatless Monday! Yikes, what actually counts as Meatless? Does diary count? What about eggs? As a lacto-ovo- vegetarian (90% of the time), I regularly eat dairy and eggs. So my food recall for today does include eggs (ovo) and diary (lacto).

Why I do dairy….In particular, I choose to consume dairy not just because it tastes good, but research has shown that dairy proteins (casein and whey) help support muscle repair and recovery.  Dairy foods are also complete proteins e.g. they contain all the essential amino acids required by the body. What’s an essential amino acid, you ask? The building blocks of life, and so you better eat them!*

Let’s see what I ate….Food Recall time

Pre run breakfast classic: PB toast and COFFEE

Protein= 3g (from rye bread)

Post run Breakfast: Spinach Scramble with Seitan Bacon and Brown Rice and COFFEE

Protein= 23 grams (2 grams from brown rice, 6 grams from 1 egg, 15 grams from seitan bacon)

Scramble and COFFEE

Pre lunch snack: Kefir* and COFFEE

Protein=11 grams of protein


Lunch: Subway….(I forgot my lunch at home?) Also, who knew Chicago subway’s had giardiniera? Falafel Veggie Sub

Protein= 33grams (9grams bread, 24 grams falafel)

Falafel Veggie Sub

Post lunch snack: Kefir* , peanut butter cups, and COFFEE

Protein=11 grams of protein

Coffee…the 4th cup, it seems I have a problem.


Dinner: TBD, let’s hope its something good. Although, I am sorta full from that sub at lunch….

Also…boom, doing the math I perfectly hit my 1.2 grams of protein per kg of body weight already. And it was fairly spread out throughout the day, more on protein timing later. 🙂

Note for vegans: If you chose not to do dairy, no worries, there’s plenty of creative ways you can get your protein in, too (seitan, tofu, etc.).

*Disclosure: I do work for Lifeway Foods; hence the kefir. 🙂

Next up: Protein timing and protein utilization!



Food Recall= myself, obviously.

1.Hansen, M., Bangsbo, J., Jensen, J., Bibby, B. M., & Madsen, K. (2015, April). Effect of whey protein hydrolysate on performance and recovery of top-class orienteering runners. Retrieved March 27, 2017, from

2.Naclerio, F., & Larumbe-Zabala, E. (2016, January). Effects of Whey Protein Alone or as Part of a Multi-ingredient Formulation on Strength, Fat-Free Mass, or Lean Body Mass in Resistance-Trained Individuals: A Meta-analysis. Retrieved March 27, 2017, from

3. Rosenbloom, C. (2012). Sports nutrition: a practice manual for professionals (5th ed.). Place of publication not identified: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Protein Intro

Protein, Protein, Protein….Recently, I’ve seen a few athletes falter in the protein department. It might also be my most frequently asked question: “Protein, tell me more…” So, here’s a quick intro. This week, I’ll be doing a short series on the protein food group.

We all hear and read that we need PROTEIN and need a lot of it for good health, weight loss, training, etc. But is that actually true? Yes and no. Yes, protein is needed for good health and is very important for muscle recovery. However, most Americans are eating too much protein. The general recommendations are .8grams per kilogram of body weight. To put this in perspective, this is about 55 grams of protein for a 150lb person e.g. 1 restaurant steak may contain 62 grams of protein. So you can see that it is easy for someone to very quickly consume too much protein!

Dedicated Athletes: The recommendations are .8grams  of protein per kilogram of body weight. This is a baseline recommendation for the average individual trying to maintain current body weight and fitness.

Endurance athletes need more protein! Why?  Because we’re training, breaking down muscle, and we need to repair these muscles to come back stronger, faster, and fitter! Typically for an athlete in training, 1.2-1.4grams of protein for kilogram of body weight is recommended*.

Resistance Athletes need even more protein! Why? Because you’re building strength and making those muscle fibers break down. Typically for an athlete in training 1.6-1.7grams of protein for kilogram of body weight is recommended*.

*Note: These ranges vary based on the individual, sport, level of training, and various other factors. We’ll discuss this more later in the week. 🙂

Questions:  If you don’t know how to or don’t want to calculate your specific protein needs, please ask me!

Picture credit: Nuun (and the protein I ate after was some Vital Farms hardboiled eggs)

Next up: Meatless Monday and Why I do Dairy!

Sources (because, well I didn’t just make this up, haha):

1. Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Energy, Carbohydrates, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2002.

2. Rosenbloom, C. (2012). Sports nutrition: a practice manual for professionals (5th ed.). Place of publication not identified: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.