Have you ever heard of Spirulina or had it in a smoothie and wondered what it is? Spirulina is actually a type of algae that is found in some bodies of water naturally. It has a very dark green color and a pungent odor. Spirulina is touted as being nutrient dense and rich in anti-oxidants. It’s thought of as a ‘superfood’ because it’s high in protein, iron, vitamin A, and B vitamins. I’ve found that 1 to 2 teaspoons in a smoothie is almost odorless and doesn’t change the flavor of my smoothie bowl much. A teaspoon contains about 2g of protein, 100% of your daily vitamin A, and about 11% of your daily iron requirement. There are lots of other claims regarding Spirulina’s potential health benefits which have not been well studied. Some studies claim that it may help improve the symptoms of chronic fatigue, lower cholesterol, and reduce nasal allergy symptoms. The only studies I could find regarding this algae did not necessarily meet the rigorous scientific standards typically sought after to prove these types of health benefits. There are also some reports that Spirulina can worsen certain auto-immune conditions or interfere with blood thinners. Spirulina is thought to be safe for most adults but if you have been diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, have a blood clotting disorder, or are on immune suppressants or blood thinners, it’s best to avoid it altogether or check with you doctor first. It’s also not recommended for children. In my experience, Spirulina is best used in small quantities in smoothies to add a nutrient boost and that vibrant green color. I found mine at Whole Foods in Chicago for about $14. It’s also available on Amazon or by clicking here. This colorful smoothie bowl is creamy, delicious, and energizing. Make sure you take a picture and tag @thefriendlyepicurean if you make it!
Avocado Spirulina Protein Smoothie Bowl (vegan, gluten free)
- 1 sliced and frozen banana
- 1/2 ripe avocado
- 1 scoop vegan vanilla protein powder (such as LivWell Nutrition’s protein powder)
- 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tsp spirulina powder
- 1 tbs raw shredded coconut for topping (optional)
- 1/4 fresh fruit for topping (optional)
Place all ingredients in a high powered blender (such as Vitamix) and blend until smooth. Stop blender as needed to scrape down sides. Scoop into a bowl and top with fresh fruit, raw shredded coconut, or any of your favorite toppings. Serves 1.
Nutrition Information (without toppings):
- Approximate Calories per Serving: 404 cal
- Approximate Protein per Serving: 22g
- Cellular and Molecular Immunology. The effects of Spirulina on anemia and immune function in senior citizens. (2011) Vol. 8, pp. 248-254
- International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. Microalgae: a novel ingredient in nutrition. (2011) Vol. 62, pp. 794-799.
- Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Spirulina in Clinical Practice: Evidence-Based Human Applications. (2008) Vol. 2011