Smoothie Bowls: the Jersey Takeover

Over the years, we’ve been obsessed with everything from avocado toast to cupcakes on a stick to bacon on, well, pretty much everything. While some obsessions prove to be short lived, others stand the test of time. The smoothie bowl is clearly a fit for the latter category.

The Skinny on the Smoothie Bowl

For those of you who have yet to experience a smoothie bowl, let me catch you up. Basically, it’s exactly what it sounds like—the makings of a delicious smoothie, in a bowl. The mixture combines all the components of your traditional smoothie—fruits, vegetables, nut milk, nut butter, protein powder, and more—but instead of being sippable, it’s scoopable. This thicker base is then topped with crunchy, creamy, and nutty additions that will make you rethink your morning routine: Glass vs. bowl. Straw vs. spoon.

playa bowls

So now you may be thinking, OK, a smoothie in a bowl, topped with granola, fresh fruit, honey, chocolate— it sounds delicious, but what’s the big deal? Well, if you’ve had any time to check out Instagram lately, you’ll soon find out that while taste is important, it’s also all about the presentation. Served with styling in mind, smoothie bowls have become foodie works of art.

Playa Bowls

Not only are food bloggers and stylists taking over social media with their perfectly laid-out lines of bananas, strawberries, hemp seeds, and granola, but so are many New Jersey-based shops, including the smoothie-bowl juggernaut, Playa Bowls.

With over 17 locations in New Jersey and now two in New York City, what started out as a dream to own a small business in Belmar, just across from the ocean (hence, Playa Bowls), turned into a Jersey Shore phenomenon. Owners Rob Giuliani and Abby Taylor, both Belmar residents, wanted to bring the benefits of acai (pronounced ah-sah-EE) back home from their surfing adventures around the world. After testing out recipes with friends and family, they brought their bowls to a storefront, offering a limited acai bowl menu with some sippable smoothies. Fast forward a few years and the Playa Bowls combination of fun-loving Aloha beach vibes and delicious bowl combinations made with high quality products have turned them into a huge success.

Ingredients are Everything

The deep purple acai berries give your body a burst of antioxidants (surpassing that of strawberries and blueberries), as well as vitamin A, calcium, fiber, and oleic acid (found in olive oil to help your insides run smoothly). If that’s not enough, they team up with anthocyanin, which shares properties with red wine. In addition, other popular superfood ingredients include pitaya, aka dragon fruit, a gorgeous bright pink fruit that’s rich in magnesium, iron, antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C, and B vitamins. Top it all off with other healthy ingredients like hemp seeds (improve dry skin), goji berries (high in vitamins A and C), chia seeds (known as a runner’s food), and even Nutella (which isn’t healthy, but hey, we all deserve a little treat in our life)!

Where Else to Find Them

From Dean’s Natural Food Market to Frutta Bowls (with eight locations across NJ), The Herd Juicery, and more, smoothie bowls are reigning supreme. With every shop bringing its own spin to the craze, there’s literally a bowl for everyone out there. Whether you’re looking for an after-school snack, breakfast on the go, or even a meal for your little one (my 15-month old son devours the bowls—kale and all!), you can find a bowl pretty much anywhere in the Garden State.

Some Playa Bowls favorites include the classic Pura Vida, featuring pure acai topped crunchy granola, fresh blueberries, strawberries, and sweet honey. There’s also the Electric Mermaid, featuring a pitaya blend topped with all your favorite aloha fruit: kiwi, pineapple, mangos, and coconut.

If you’re near Frutta Bowls, don’t miss out on the Hulk Bowl, which contains pretty much everything to make you feel like a superhero: kale, banana, pineapple, almond milk, whey protein, granola, strawberries, blueberries, peanut butter, and honey.

If you haven’t checked out the smoothie bowl scene yet, there’s no better time to up your game. Turns out, if you’re not eating them with a spoon, you’re missing out!