Breakfast IN BED: The Smoothie Bowl

Words, Images & Recipe by Sam Hillman

Many of the recipes I’ve contributed to Breakfast IN BED thus far have been genuine morning time favourites; the nostalgic comfort food, the lazy brunch and the downright hedonistic. They are the sorts of things that I’d love to eat every day, but I don’t. Because I’m equal parts lazy as shit and a creature of habit. I eat the same thing for breakfast nearly every day, though it’s something I have deliberately steered clear of associating myself with for all its instawankery baggage.

A few years back, when the only thing wider than my thigh gap was the gaping hole between me and mental stability; smoothie bowls were a daily staple. I was livin’ da vida orthorexia; subsisting on a carefully balanced diet of foraged berries and pretension, throwing out #rawvegan instabrags like confetti at a wedding and basking shamelessly in my own self righteousness. They were an ideal vehicle for my extensive collection of superfoods. The perfect fuel for a busy day of judging other people’s packaged snacks and worrying about canola oil.

My ingredient criteria back then was simple: if the average person had heard of it, was able to pronounce it or could afford it, I didn’t want a bar of it. I wanted powders from the Inca trails! I wanted activated walnuts! Medicinal spices! Hemp seeds! Algae! Probiotics! Brown paper packaging! To me, a breakfast not infused with a careful selection of overpriced supplements was a meal wasted; an opportunity to properly nourish my body forever missed.

Today I see a smoothie bowl as the closest I can get to having actual ice-cream for breakfast.

This isn’t a stab at conscientious eating by any means. It is with cupboard full of acai powder that I write this. But it’s also important to realise that a near-evangelical approach to food is a slippery slope. There’s a difference between actively choosing unprocessed foods and throwing out spirulina tablets, paralyzed by the fear of their silicone casing. It’s one thing to eat a certain way, it’s another to assume it makes you morally superior. For some, raw veganism is a high-energy lifestyle fuelled by kombucha and empathy. For me, it was the heavily restrictive and brutally regimented eating patterns of my teen years repackaged as #fitspiration.

Though like any good and incidentally healthy meal, the smoothie bowl needn’t be confined to the dietary elite, nor filed irevocably under a self-indulgent hashtag. Those familiar with the Danish Danish koldskål can attest that the concept of a sweet cold soup topped with fruit and crunchy grains has long preceded #cleaneating. Leave out the kale and the fancy powders, and you’ve got yourself a delicious hybrid of a milkshake and a bowl of cereal. Quick to make, infinitely adaptable and faintly reminiscent of an ice-cream sundae.

The key is to get the balance right. This one is my go-to.

1 ½ -2 frozen bananas

½ cup of milk, I use hazelnut milk for the Nutella vibes (store bought! Gasp!)

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1 heaped tablespoon of dark cacao or cocoa

1 heaped tablespoon of peanut butter

One medjool date

Blend the lot until smooth. Add a few extra splashes of milk if you need. Play with flavours.  Top with strawberries and granola, or whatever takes your darn fancy.

Note: You should also, unlike the picture, chop your berries. A career in food styling typically makes for photos that are confusing and lacking any sort of narrative plausibility.