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The Ultimate Smoothie Bowl Guide + Vegan Salted Caramel Apple Smoothie Recipe

Updated: Sep 18, 2020

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links

This week, my meal prep looked a bit different than usual. Rather than my usual matching Pyrex containers lined up to satisfy my OCD, I had sheet pans filled with frozen fruits and vegetables….that were also lined up to satisfy my OCD.

With the summer weather in LA reaching well into the 90s, all I’ve been craving are creamy, smoothie bowls. I like my smoothie bowls to practically be texture or soft serve ice cream. It makes me feel like I’m eating ice cream for breakfast! And lunch and dinner, because honestly there’s never a bad time for ice cream.

If you want to know how to get your smoothie bowls to be thicker than a snicker, then read on!

Smoothie bowl tips:

If you want to keep your smoothie bowl from melting into a sad, colorful puddle, here’s a few tips.

#1. How do you avoid a liquidy smoothie bowl? Don’t add too much liquid! The main difference between a smoothie and a smoothie bowl is the amount of liquid used. You want to add as little liquid as possible so that it does not get too thin. If you use too much, the toppings (arguably the best part of the smoothie bowl) won’t be able to stay on top. But we’ll get into the wonderful world of toppings in just a moment. Right now, we need to discuss the second element that makes these bowls thicker than a Snicker: frozen produce! Using mostly, or all, frozen produce in your smoothies will give it a frosty element without watering it down with ice.

#2 Use frozen fruit! Now I know you’re thinking: “Gigi, that was your tip for keeping it from being watery.” And you’d be right. This tip has two benefits. Using frozen fruit ensures that the texture will get to be an ice cream consistency. Here’s a list of some of my favorite fruits and vegetables to freeze for smoothies. And yes, I did say vegetables. They’re a great way to add volume, creaminess, and nutrients to your smoothies while also keeping the sugar content low. This can help you from crashing right after slurping down your smoothie bowl.

Check below on how to prepare some of these foods for blending


  • Berries - strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries make great options. I personally buy my berries already frozen, as they’re cheaper and retain their nutrients better that way. You can also freeze them yourself.

  • Overripe Bananas - the riper your bananas are when you freeze them, the sweeter they will be.

  • Mango - Mango is delicious. ‘Nuf said.

  • Dark, sweet, pitted cherries - these are so sweet and tasty in smoothies, you won’t need any added sugar. I usually buy these already frozen.

  • Medjool dates - these nutrient dense fruits are a great natural sweetener

  • Avocado - yes, avocado is a fruit and yes you can put it in your smoothie. It adds nutrients and healthy fats and does NOT make it taste like guacamole.

  • Papaya - another nutrient packed fruit that helps make smoothies creamy.

  • Pineapple - A way to naturally sweeten your smoothie and make it taste like dole whip

  • Zucchini - again, yes zucchini is botanically classified as a fruit and it belongs in your fruit smoothie. It’s a great source of fiber and adds creaminess.

  • Unsweetened Applesauce - technically a fruit purée, but still a great addition to smoothies if you want to add some natural sweetness.

  • Pumpkin and pumpkin puree - yep, another fruit pretending to be a veggie. And another way to get in lots of volume and nutrients.

  • Butternut Squash, kabocha squash, and acorn squash - I’m beginning to sound like a broken record here, yes these are fruits

  • Açaí - there’s a reason this food is so trendy. It’s a superfood filled with antioxidants. You can usually find frozen packets of it. Just make sure to get the kind without added sugar.

  • Pitaya - also known as dragonfruit, it’s a great addition to smoothies.


  • Cauliflower - cauliflower is very neutral tasting when prepared properly. It adds creaminess and volume to smoothies without a lot of calories or carbs.

  • Beets - a great source of nutrients and natural sugar. They also make smoothies pretty, which is integral to a good gram pic. I like to buy the ones already steamed and peeled.

  • Spinach, kale, and dark leafy greens - a great way to get a salad in without have to gnaw on a bunch of lettuce

  • Peas - okay, personally I hate peas in my smoothie, but a lot of people enjoy the natural sweetness and protein they add.

  • Sweet potato - The thickness of adding sweet potato to your smoothie is unmatched.

How to prepare fruits and vegetables:

  • for berries, bananas, pineapple, mango, avocado, cherries, pitaya, and papaya - remove any skins and seeds, chop into bite sized pieces, and lay them down flat on a parchment lined baking tray (this will help them from sticking to one another in the freezer). Freeze for at least 4 hours before removing from the tray and storing them in freezer safe containers.

    • Note: if you buy your fruit already frozen, like berries or cherries, you can just throw them in your smoothie and skip this step.

  • For Applesauce and pumpkin purée - your ice cube tray can be used for more than just ice. Portion the purée into the molds and freeze for at least 4 hours. Pop them out whenever you want a smoothie or pop them out and store them in a freezer safe container.

  • For zucchini, squashes, cauliflower, beets, and sweet potato - remove any peels, chop into bite sized pieces, and steam until fork tender. Allow to cool, lay down the pieces evenly on a parchment lined baking tray, and freeze for at least four hours. Remove from the tray and store in a freezer safe container.

#3. Put your bowl in the freezer while you make your smoothie. This will help keep it cold while you eat it and stop it from melting.

#4. This one is probably the hardest to follow, but once your smoothie is blended, pour it into your bowl and stick it back in the freezer for 10 minutes. Doing this will help it to firm up and retain its texture. I like to use this time to wash my blender or food processor so I can be rewarded afterwards with a sweet, sweet smoothie bowl.

#5. Speaking of machinery, let’s talk about equipment. I like to use a food processor for my smoothie bowls, as I find that everything gets blended more smoothly and the final product is thicker. A high-speed blender will do the trick as well, but I find I always need to add more liquid than I want to avoid the motor from burning out.

#6. Make it filling! Many people say they feel hungry right after eating a smoothie. That’s usually because they’re slurping down nothing but a cup of fruit. With the addition of protein and fats however, your smoothie can keep you full and satisfied. Here’s a list of proteins and fats to add to bulk up your smoothie bowl:


  • Protein powder - probably the most basic way to get in a protein boost. Whey or casein are the most common. If you’re plant based, pea and brown rice protein powders make great additions. I like protein powders with minimal ingredients like the ones from Naked Nutrition

  • Collagen - collagen dissolved completely, is a great source of protein, and is thought to support healthy hair and bones.

  • De-fatted Peanut or almond butter - these powdered nut butters are higher in protein and low in fat.

  • Greek yogurt or high protein vegan yogurt - these can add a nice protein boost while also adding creaminess to your smoothie

  • Silken tofu - another way to add creaminess and protein. And no your smoothie won’t taste like a stir fry. Just make sure to use silken or soft tofu.

  • Beans - white navy beans, black beans, kidney beans etc. all make great additions to smoothies. They add fiber, protein, and help to make it almost a cookie dough like texture. Tip: after draining and rinsing your beans, add them to a bowl of water with a few tablespoons of lemon juice. Let them sit for 10 minutes and rinse again before adding them to your smoothie. The lemon juice will help to neutralize the “bean” flavor.

  • Rolled oats and cooked quinoa - these help the smoothie to thicken while also adding protein.

  • High protein milks - skim, soy, and hemp milk are a great way to get your blender moving while also adding protein.


  • Nut butters - probably my favorite way to add healthy fats. A big dollop of peanut or cashew butter in a smoothie helps up the creaminess while also providing your body with much needed fats to help absorb all the nutrients in your smoothie.

  • Coconut cream - skim the solids off the top of your can of coconut milk for a decadent smoothie.

  • Avocado - yep, this was also on the fruits list but avocado is also a great source of fats.

  • Seeds - chia, hemp, and flax seeds are a great source of fats, as well as protein. When blended, they can also thicken smoothies and add creaminess.

#7. Give your smoothie a boost! These ingredients aren’t necessary, but can add flavor and nutrients to your smoothie.

  • Milks - use flavored milks and non-dairy milks instead of water in your smoothie. They can add flavor, creaminess, and nutrients depending on the kind you choose. Chocolate oat milk is delicious in a smoothie. Just gonna put that out there.

  • Fruit juice - another way to add flavor and nutrients. Just try to find one that’s natural, cold pressed, and not 90% sugar.

  • Greens powder - this is a great way to get a lot of greens in for a small amount

  • Maca powder - known to help balance hormones, it adds a “caramel” taste to smoothies, especially when paired with dates

  • Moringa powder - this powder is also know to help balance hormones and support healthy hair

  • Spirulina - a great source of protein and it turns the smoothie blue.

  • Butterfly pea powder - another way to make a smoothie blue and possibly support brain health.

  • Spices - cinnamon is delicious in peanut butter smoothies and helps to regulate blood sugar.

  • Vanilla extract/other natural extracts - I love using vanilla, peppermint, and almond extract in my smoothies depending on what I’m making.

  • Liquid CBD - feeling stressed, depending on where you live cbd may be regularly available. Add a few drops to your smoothie to help mellow out.

#8. Finally, the most critical part of the smoothie bowl, choosing what goes on top! Adding something crunchy to go along with your smoothie is an important part of keeping yourself full. Chewing is the body’s first step in digestion. Without it, the smoothie goes straight to the stomach. The body is not alerted that alerting you’re eating something, causing you to be left with a grumbling stomach. You can go nuts here! No, literally, you can add nuts along with seeds, granola, cereal, fruit, chocolate chips, nut butter, yogurt, anything! I love topping mine with homemade granola because the added crunch is so satisfying. If you need some easy granola recipes, I have a few to check out.

Go forth, follow these tips, and make smoothie bowls.

Vegan Salted Caramel Apple Smoothie Bowl Recipe
Vegan Salted Caramel Apple Smoothie Bowl Recipe


Vegan Salted Caramel Apple Smoothie Bowl Recipe:

Makes about 2 Servings 



210 g - Unsweetened Applesauce - Pre-Frozen in an ice cube tray 

140 g - Frozen Banana Slices

150 g - Steamed and Frozen Cauliflower Florets 

20 g - Date Syrup - Sub soaked medjool dates 

10 g - Maca Powder  

¼ tsp - Vanilla Extract 

¼ tsp - Kosher Salt 

60-120 ml - Nut Milk*

Salted Tahini Date Caramel:

32 g - Tahini 

20 g - Date Syrup

5 g - Maca Powder 

Pinch - Flaky Sea Salt 

To Assemble:

170 g - Vegan Yogurt- Optional

1 Pack - Salted Caramel Frooze Balls - Crushed - Optional 

More Tahini Date Caramel 

Pinch of flakey sea salt 


20 minutes before blending, put the jars or bowls in the freezer*.

In a bowl, add the salted tahini date caramel ingredients.  Stir until well combined. 

Add all smoothie ingredients to a food processor or high speed blender.  Blend until completely smooth.  

Remove jars from the freezer.  Add a layer of yogurt and date caramel.  Pour smoothie on top.  Top with desired toppings and enjoy!  


  • Use just enough nut milk to get the food processor or blender going in order to ensure that your smoothie bowl is thick.  Start with 60 ml and add more as needed to reach desired consistency.

  • Placing your jar in the freezer helps to ensure the smoothie bowl stays cold while you eat it.

Want another smoothie to try out these tips with? How about this Vegan Nutella Smoothie Bowl?

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