Ah, the elusive smoothie bowl. How we adore thee. From Instagram, on someone else's feed. We asked our resident nutritionist Shannan Monson of Nutrition Simply how to make the smoothie bowl of your dreams and she broke it down for us into three really simple steps. Excuse us while we drool over this deliciousness...

Part I: The Base

Smoothies really aren't rocket science, but it can feel intimidating to make them without a recipe, especially if you're just getting into the whole morning-smoothie-routine thing.

This is exactly what I follow every morning to make perfect smoothies (and even more perfect smoothie bowls), and the best part is, you can make it completely personal to you. Which means perfect, smoothies, just the way you like 'em, no recipe, no fuss, every time. (Can I get an amen?!)

1 cup liquid

almond milk // cashew milk // coconut milk // coconut water

These are all great dairy-free options that are easy to digest, and also full of good nutrients. Both are low in sugar as well, making them a great choice to start the morning, just be sure to purchase unsweetened or you're pretty much just getting sugar water.

Making your own nut milks is ideal, but also #reallife, so just be sure to read ingredient lists and ideally the only ingredients are nuts, water, and perhaps vanilla bean. You can use water in your smoothie as well, but know that the flavors will be more diluted, and it tends to taste a bit watered down.

1 cup frozen or fresh fruit (or veggies)

pineapple + coconut milk // strawberry + banana // banana + beet + blueberry // mango + pineapple // berries + chocolate

Aim for at least half of your fruit to be frozen—this helps keep the perfect consistency without having to add a lot of ice, which equals lost flavor.

Buy frozen fruit in bulk (Costco for the win!) or buy in season and freeze flat on a cookie sheet before putting into bags in the freezer. (Otherwise it will stick together and you'll be using an ice picker to make your smoothies in the morning. So, just buy it frozen.)

1/2 cup ice

(optional) // sub frozen fruit instead

If you overdo it on the ice and the smoothie gets too thick, you can always add more liquid until you reach your desired consistency. I typically go 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.

1 scoop protein powder

chocolate // double chocolate // vanilla almond // French vanilla // unflavored

You don't have to add this, but I highly recommend it. You should aim to get a protein + healthy fat + complex carbohydrate at every meal, and if you skip out on this part, you're more likely to be hungry later in the day.

And p.s. make sure to read the ingredient list–The best brands for you have no artificial sweeteners, preservatives, or chemicals, and are made with organic, non-GMO ingredients.

1 Tb cacao powder

Sometimes I'll want to use strawberry protein powder or something that's not chocolate, but still have a chocolate kick, so I'll throw in a tablespoon of raw cacoa powder, because I can, and why not? Those antioxidants are good for you and #chocolate.

1 tb superfood

spirulina // chlorella// hemp hearts // chia seeds // maca powder / nut butter

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

½ cup greens

kale // spinach // chard

Because no smoothie is complete without some greens. Kale, spinach, and chard are my go-tos, and can all be cleaned and frozen ahead of time, so there's no need to worry about having fresh greens in the house. Just be sure to have a high-quality blender (totally worth the investment), and feel free to start by blending the greens and the liquid first to ensure you don't have any chunks.

Part II: The Toppings

Making a smoothie bowl is as simple as making a thick smoothie and pouring it in a bowl. Then throwing all your favorite things on top. It can be a lot more satisfying than a typical on-the-run smoothie, plus the texture and variety is really unbeatable. (And worth it.)

Believe me. You really can't go wrong here. Add whatever you like. Some of my favorite toppings are shown above.

Part III: Personalize it

For weight loss:

Use berries instead of higher sugar fruits like bananas, pineapple, oranges etc. The higher antioxidant count and lower fructose levels help to promote weight loss by keeping blood sugar steady and protecting cells from stress.

Add natural fats such as ½ an avocado or 1 TB coconut oil to leave you feeling more satiated, encourage your body to use fat as fuel, and curb sugar cravings later in the day. It may seem counterintuitive, but eating natural, healthy fats will actually allow you to burn more fat.

For kids and toddlers:

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. Our favorites are Designer Whey and Tera's Whey.

For endurance training:

Use bananas, beets, or other complex starch to give you extra immediate energy to fuel long workouts. You can also add soaked oats or even cooked quinoa for an extra boost.

For breastfeeding:

Add 1-2 tsp ground flaxseed, ¼ cup soaked oatmeal, or ½ inch fresh ginger root to your smoothies. These foods are considered galactagogues, and can help to increase milk supply.

Share with Motherly: What are your favorite smoothie mix-ins and toppings?