12 Delicious Toppings To Instantly Elevate Your Smoothie Bowls

It doesn't matter if you're just trying to add more fruit to your diet or consider yourself a health guru, smoothie bowls have definitely crossed your mind as a brilliant idea. Although no one is there to really take credit for this ingenious creation, it has instantly become a sensational trend on social media, health blogs, and recipe outlets. One recipe that may have given rise to the smoothie bowl is probably the famous açaí bowl, popularized by the Gracie family in Brazil in the 80s.

A smoothie bowl is an effortless way to turn healthy smoothie recipes into rich and wholesome meals by topping them with additional ingredients, such as fruit, seeds, nuts, puffed grains, and more. While it's a simple idea, it creates almost too many options. Don't worry, we are not going to leave you alone on this — we've rounded up some of the best and most delicious toppings to compliment your favorite smoothies. Read on and you'll never fall short on ideas for your next healthy morning bowl.

1. Exotic fruits

Smoothie bowls are essentially made with fruit, so adding a few more slices on top may seem like an obvious thing. While in most cases a few slices of banana or kiwi work just fine, it may well get boring after a while. The best way to spice things up a little is to add some new and exotic fruits, like Pitaya (dragon fruit) or passion fruit, to your smoothie bowl.

Dragon fruit resembles kiwi because of its black seeds, but its beautiful, white flesh is much less tart. It's best to scoop the flesh out. For something truly unique, try working with a tiny measuring spoon; it will produce beautiful dotted balls that will turn your smoothie into an Instagram-worthy treat. Unripe pitayas might taste a bit soapy, so check before you buy — it should be slightly firm, but soft for the gentle press of a finger.

If you'd like to add even more texture to your bowl, passion fruit seeds make a huge difference. Passionfruit has a very tropical feel to it and provides a refreshing crunch; it works best when paired with a coconut or mango smoothie base.

2. Raw chocolate

It would be hard to find someone that doesn't love good chocolate. Some of the most decadent desserts and smoothies are cacao-based, but not all chocolate is made equal. If we follow the journey of cacao fruit from its harvest to our favorite bar, we can learn that there are essentially two types of cacao (via Healthline): raw or roasted. The choice really depends on how much bitterness you can handle. Raw cacao packs much more natural intensity and is considered nutritionally superior — the perfect addition to a smoothie bowl.

If you'd like to make things really chocolaty, raw cacao nibs would be the best choice. Essentially it's just a crushed-up cacao bean, and while eating it on its own may seem like a challenge, a nice handful of nibs in a smoothie bowl makes for a wicked crunch. It balances well with the sour freshness from berries, or sweetness from dates and bananas, as well as cuts through fat like avocado or coconut. And if you're making a cherry smoothie, a dusting of raw cacao powder would absolutely nail it.

3. Bee pollen

Bless the little bees that tirelessly work so hard to bring us honey, but do you know what else they have in store for us? Bee pollen. While they wander around looking for nectar, they also collect pollen from male plants, which they then mix with their saliva and nectar to produce little pollen loads (via the Journal of Evidence Based Complementary Alternative Medicine). These loads, when brought back to the hive, are used to make bee bread — a main source of protein for the bees throughout the year. Beekeepers have designed special harmless traps to collect pollen loads on their arrival to the hive; only some pollen is collected so that our little friends can feed as well.

The collected pollen has a beautiful golden hue and is usually a tiny round or oval-shaped granule. According to Medical News Today, bee pollen is an excellent source of protein and has a full spectrum of all major vitamins and minerals. It also has powerful antibiotic and antioxidant properties, making this treat a highly-valuable superfood.

Bee pollen has a chewy and soft texture, a honey-like sweetness, and a beautiful floral aroma. Just like honey, it works very well with pears, apples, and oranges; just sprinkle it over your smoothie bowl and enjoy the real fruits of hard labor.

4. Seasonal berries

A handful of berries is an effortless way to lift a smoothie bowl to new heights — just wash, assemble, and serve. However, if we get stuck with common berries like strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries, we might be missing out on all the benefits. Berries, just like fruits or vegetables, have seasons, and while it's great to see them on the shelves all year round, they're often not in their prime.

According to a 2004 study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, blackberries increased their antioxidant properties by four times at their peak ripeness. This should be a good reason to start navigating the fruit aisle for seasonal berries. Besides their added nutritional value, fully ripe berries taste so much more vibrant!

If you really want to add a powerful health kick to your smoothie bowls, check for what's in season. May to September is when you'll find berries at their peak, with the late summer months offering more variety. Smart tip: Freeze some berries for the winter months, you'll thank yourself later.

5. Coconut chips

There are plenty of ways you can use coconut in your smoothie recipes; from coconut cream in a tropical fruit smoothie or coconut water for a brain-power smoothie. While blending coconut offers creaminess, we'll need something to give the texture to the smoothie bowl — and what could be better than coconut chips?

If your smoothie base is made of berries, then raw and unsweetened coconut would provide the perfect balance and texture. And remember, the better the quality of the coconut, the more fragrant sweetness you will get. Stay away from old coconut chips, as the oils in the coconut go rancid after a while; check the date on the package and if you have a chance, taste before you buy.

On the other hand, flavored coconut chips are a perfect choice when you're looking for some spice — a mango smoothie with chili and lime-flavored coconut is to die for. Coconut snacks are relatively new on the market, so be prepared to spend a few extra bucks on them. But you can also bake your own — all you'll need is a mature coconut, a sharp mandolin, and your favorite seasoning.

6. Nut butter

Nuts may seem like an obvious choice to add to the smoothie bowl, but bear with us for a second — there's another awesome way to use nuts as a morning health kick — nut butter! Oh boy, who doesn't love this scrumptious and sticky spread? Double-roasted, triple-roasted, or raw — it's sure to satisfy the extra calorie cravings with your smoothie bowl.

Today, the choice of nut butter is huge, so you can always have some variety. While peanut butter is hanging in pretty much everyone's cupboard, some highly-nutritious nut butter like walnut, pistachio, or pecan would definitely add an interesting twist to your usual smoothie bowl routine.

Walnut butter goes smoothly with chocolate and cherry smoothies, but can also be a lovely addition to kiwi. Meanwhile, try the pistachio nut butter with oranges or apricots — it will truly surprise you. And if you're not feeling adventurous, a dollop of good old peanut butter on a strawberry vanilla smoothie is always a winner. The best part: Peanut butter is the pantry staple you can easily make at home.

7. Freeze-dried fruits

There is a new health trend that is disrupting the specialty food market and that is freeze-dried fruit and vegetables. Freeze-drying is a technology for drying a wide spectrum of foods and offers unparalleled convenience. Just like common drying, the key to the technology is to remove all the water from the product, but because freeze-drying is performed in sub-zero temperatures it particularly excels in preserving all the vital nutrients and significantly extends the shelf life of fresh foods.

While conventional drying significantly alters the flavor profile, freeze-dried fruit appears to be almost frozen in time. Tasting it is an unforgettable experience; while it feels dry to the tongue, when you bite through a freeze-dried blueberry or an apple, the flavor simply bursts through with the same freshness and zest it had at the time of harvest. Freeze-dried fruits also feel very airy and crunchy in comparison to the very dense and chewy texture of dehydrated fruit. If you haven't yet tried it, you must; it will without a doubt revolutionize your smoothie bowls. Freeze-dried fruit weighs very little, but definitely packs a punch — a little goes a long way.

8. Oily seeds

Whenever you feel like nut butter might be just a bit too heavy in your smoothie bowl, seeds can be a great alternative. They provide fewer calories but pack equal amounts of vital nutrients and are one of the best plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids (via Healthline). Hemp or flax seeds are a particularly great source of the nutrient and a wonderful addition to smoothie bowls.

Hemp is a versatile plant prized for producing some of the most nutritious seeds. They are usually hulled to reveal small off-white seeds that are super delicious and creamy. The milky earthiness is not overpowering and can add beautiful texture to chocolate or creamy plant milk smoothies; it also works great with bananas or apples.

For something with more bite, flax seeds would be a better choice. Flax is a nutritional powerhouse with superior health benefits, like being a very good source of healthy fiber. The flax seeds have a nutty earthiness that really shines through with berries, pineapple, or papaya in your smoothie bowl.

9. Super berries

We know that berries are a delightful addition to a healthy diet, but some berries have a category of their own. Super berries are a group of berries that could form an alliance of nutritional heroes, and they are worth digging for at your local health food store.

Probably the best-known of all exotic, super berries is the goji berry. Originally from Asia, this super berry is highly valued for its medicinal properties and often appears in food supplements and superfood blends (via Healthline). Some of its key benefits include a rich nutritional profile and immunity support that has been linked to the slowing of aging. They are not overly sweet and have a balanced sour flavor, which pairs nicely with mango, peaches, or kiwis.

Another great way to turn your smoothie bowl into a youth elixir is to add golden berries: The little-known superfood that tastes like clementines and cranberries. Goldenberries contain carotenoids, an important antioxidant that can slow down the aging of the cells. Golden berries add beautiful tanginess to tropical or chocolate smoothie bowls.

10. Puffed super grains

Although puffed rice is over 100 years old, puffed grains are just catching up with the latest focus on ancient grains and gluten-free products. Grains like quinoa, kamut, or amaranth have risen to fame as a healthier alternative to wheat, oats, or white rice. But to harness all the goodness these grains have to offer we'd usually have to cook them, and that is not always convenient for a quick breakfast bowl. Well, it seems that's not the case anymore. More and more cereal producers have included puffed ancient grains in their production lines, allowing us to enjoy them straight out of the packet.

There are plenty of puffed grains to choose from, but amaranth stands among the few we call super grains. According to WebMD, amaranth is the closest plant protein source to the animal, containing a complete list of essential amino acids. It tastes amazing as well; its toasted caramel notes and creamy nuttiness are an instant favorite with chocolate but also can be great with apricots, blueberries, or pears. Be bold and experiment with other super grains as well; quinoa or sorghum can also turn your smoothie bowl into a complete meal.

11. Sprouted buckwheat

Buckwheat might seem like a boring grain usually attributed to buckwheat kasha, a popular bowl consumed in Russia and Eastern Europe. But there's more to its humble appearance than you might think.

Consuming cooked buckwheat groats offers substantial health benefits like the ability to lower cholesterol levels as well as regulate blood sugar in people suffering from diabetes, per Netmeds. It's also a very good source of easily-digestible protein and fiber. But there's even more we can do to get this grain to superfood status. According to the science book "Cereal Grains for the Food and Beverage Industries," buckwheat is also rich in antioxidants, which are significantly increased when it is sprouted.

And while not all of us have the luxury of time to sprout buckwheat for seven days to its peak germination, there are convenient and delicious alternatives. Brands like Lil Bucks now do it all for you so you can enjoy all the benefits of this highly-nutritious grain hassle-free. The best part: Sprouted buckwheat groats are super fun to eat. The nutty flavor with hints of honey paired with a beautiful crunch is sure to become your new healthy staple — just sprinkle it on your smoothie bowl and enjoy a quick and wholesome meal.

12. Popcorn

Popcorn is something we don't usually consume for breakfast, but there are plenty of reasons we can (and should). Popcorn is very healthy and nutritious, making it the perfect food, not just for late-night movie snacking. Popcorn is considered a whole grain and contains a lot of fiber for healthy digestion, as well as lots of essential minerals and vitamins. Interestingly, according to Joe Vinson, Ph.D., popped corn contains more antioxidants than sweet corn. Would it work in a smoothie bowl? The answer is, yes!

While you can buy all sorts of prepackaged popcorn, we'd encourage you to play around with some homemade popcorn recipes, such as cinnamon-spice berry popcorn or classic caramel almond popcorn. Once you whip  up and try a peanut butter smoothie bowl with caramel popcorn, you'll be coming for more the next day.