Hibiscus Berry Smoothie Bowls {gluten-free, vegan}

These creamy hibiscus berry smoothie bowls taste like soft serve ice cream kissed with tart hibiscus and floral honey. They’re packed with nutrients from hempseed, chia seed, oats, and cashew butter to keep you going long after breakfast. 

Hibiscus Berry Smoothie Bowls

Happy Earth Day! Jay and I are headed to Washington DC next week to join the climate march, and we’ll be there in spirit with our Science Marching brethren today. Speaking of activism, I’m extra excited to share today’s post for two reasons. First, we’ve been eating these smoothie bowls for breakfast every day for the last month – that’s way longer than I like to withhold favorite recipes from you! And second, I’m sharing photos from my happy place: Marin County’s Mount Tamalpais, home to Muir Woods National Monument, where Jay and I have been hiking every other weekend this year. A bunch of Mother Earth-loving bloggers have banded together in celebration of our national parks and Earth Day thanks to Eva and Sasha; you’ll find links to loads of national park love at the end of this one. And what better way to fuel up for a day in nature than with a nutrient-packed hibiscus berry smoothie bowl?

Hibiscus Berry Smoothie Bowls

Apparently, the theme of our hikes this year has been “hikes that are longer/harder/not on actual trails than they appear.” Our first was in January during a break from California’s wettest year on record. Craving some waterfall action, we headed down Cataract Trail on Mount Tam. We’d eaten a big breakfast, but we grabbed a few snacks just in case we became peckish on the trail. As we descended, the trail became more and more steep, but we were so dazzled by the falling water that we barely noticed our knees complaining. When we reached the base, though tired and ravenous, we realized we needed to make good time or else get caught in the dark. As the sun set, we booked it back up the hill – about 700 feet in elevation spanning several miles – and made it to the car at dusk.

Another hike saw us teetering along the face of a cliff, goat-like, as hang gliders soared above us. And another, in Redwood Regional Park, started as a tree-lined saunter but ended in steep switchbacks and extended a good 2 hours longer than planned.

Mount TamMount TamMount Tam

I bought Jay a book on hiking trails for his birthday because clearly we need help.

Mount Tam-5

Last weekend’s jaunt was also on Mount Tam, though the climate felt drastically different than the lush, tree-covered Cataract Trail. The terrain was dry and exposed. We had hoped for wildflowers, and we found a few. We also found the last leg to be more like a boulder-filled gorge than an actual trail. We ran out of water, wore the wrong shoes, but somehow we survived long enough to celebrate with a few beers on the porch of the Mountain Home Inn afterwards.

Mount Tam-10Mount Tam-11

If all of this makes me sound outdoorsy and tough, don’t be fooled – it’s all just an elaborate excuse to load up on smoothie bowls. I used to think smoothie bowls were just thick smoothies, but Dana showed me the path to smoothie bowl perfection. The trick is to keep them super thick by adding very little liquid – just half a cup for over 2 cups of frozen fruit. Rather than adding the liquid to the blender first as with regular smoothies, you blend the frozen fruit on the lowest speed until, in her words, it resembles Dippin’ Dots. Then you add a touch of liquid and blend until smooth and thick, like soft serve.

Hibiscus Berry Smoothie BowlsHibiscus Berry Smoothie BowlsHibiscus Berry Smoothie Bowls

Inspired by Renee’s magical ways with cashew butter, I added some to make the smoothie bowl extra creamy. Same with ground oats, hemp, and chia. And the magic ingredient is ground dried hibiscus blossoms, which are packed with vitamin C, vibrant magenta in color, and brimming with a sweet-tart flavor that pairs perfectly with the strawberries and raspberries that are just coming into season here in California. Sarah inspired me to grind the hibiscus in a coffee grinder to a fine powder to add to the smoothies, and I like to sprinkle a little on top for a pretty dusting. And the coup de grace of this overly thought out smoothie bowl is the drizzle of cashew cream, which Laura showed me how to make during a retreat in Cambria, CA earlier this year.

Hibiscus Berry Smoothie BowlsHibiscus Berry Smoothie Bowls

The result of all these lovely ingredients blended together is something akin to incredibly flavorful soft serve ice cream (or “nice cream”) that you can eat for breakfast because it’s healthy. In fact, I’ve even whipped these up for dessert in lieu of chocolate, which was previously unheard of around here. This particular combination of ingredients produces our ideal smoothie bowl, but the recipe is versatile, so feel free to change things up according to your tastes and what you have on hand. I’ve given some suggestions below.

Hibiscus Berry Smoothie BowlsHibiscus Berry Smoothie Bowls

Check out more national park love, gorgeous photos, and recipes to nom on the trail in the links below. If you want to take action to preserve our parks, you can call your representative (find yours here) and urge them to keep the parks out of state hands, where they could be destroyed for industrial uses such as fracking and logging. Let’s keep our parks safe havens for wildlife, endangered species, and endangered hikers who don’t bring proper snacks and footwear for generations to come.

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy Earth Day!

Hibiscus Berry Smoothie Bowls

Hibiscus Berry Smoothie Bowls {gluten-free, vegan}
Yields: 2 servings
Hibiscus comes in several forms: fine hibiscus powder, tea-grade hibiscus which is a bit finer than the consistency of red pepper flakes, and larger blossoms and petals that measure a centimeter or two long. You can find hibiscus tea bags in most grocery stores; look for hibiscus flowers and powder in the bulk section of health food stores. I’ve included measurements for all three forms. If using hibiscus powder, there’s no need to grind it with the oats and seeds. Feel free to vary this recipe as you like; I’ve tried swapping in blueberries, blackberries, and frozen cherries in place of some of the berries, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder in place of the hibiscus, and almond butter in place of the cashew butter, and all were delicious. If you’re going completely vegan, use maple syrup in place of the honey. A high-speed blender works well here, but a sturdy food processor would probably also do the trick.
Cashew Cream Drizzle (makes more than you need for 2 servings):
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) cashew butter
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) mild honey
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) hot water, more as needed
Smoothie Bowls:
  • 1 ½ teaspoons hibiscus powder (or 2 tablespoons lightly crushed hibiscus blossoms, or 1 tablespoon hibiscus tea from about 3 tea bags)
  • 2 tablespoons (10 g) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) hulled hemp seeds (a.k.a. hemp hearts)
  • 1 cup (150 g) frozen chopped strawberries
  • 1 cup (150 g) frozen raspberries
  • 1 small sliced banana, frozen (1/2 cup)
  • ½ cup (120 ml) almond milk or other plant milk, more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) mild honey
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) cashew butter (or other nut butter)
  • fresh berries
  • bee pollen
  • hempseed
  • berries
  • hibiscus powder
  • honey
  1. Make the drizzle by stirring together the cashew butter, honey, and salt. Work in the hot water until the mixture is the consistency of thick, smooth cream.
  2. To make the smoothies, in a coffee grinder, grind the hibiscus, oats, chia and hempseeds until finely ground.
  3. Combine the frozen berries and banana in a blender and blend on low until broken down into tiny pieces, scraping down the blender bowl occasionally. Add the almond milk, honey, cashew butter, and ground hibiscus mixture and blend on low, scraping down the blender frequently, until it reaches the texture of soft serve, a few minutes. At first it will seem like the mixture needs more liquid, but resist the urge to add more than another ¼ cup or you’ll end up with a thin smoothie. As the fruit softens, it will begin to blend together better.
  4. Divide the smoothie mixture into two bowls and top with a good drizzle of cashew cream and your toppings of choice. Serve right away.

Hibiscus Berry Smoothie Bowls

Check out more National Parks love at #OurWild:



18 thoughts on “Hibiscus Berry Smoothie Bowls {gluten-free, vegan}”

  1. I’m in love! (And I’ve been really skeptical about smoothie bowls – but I like the idea of this as a dessert. Sold.) And your hiking adventures make me sorely nostalgic for my old CA stomping grounds. I loved getting lost in Mt. Tam.

    1. Aw, that means so much to me coming from you Kimberley! These bowls work great as dessert. Come back to CA so we can go hiking!

  2. So stunning! I loved all the styling & scenery images as well. That’s such a good tip for the smoothie bowls too – kinda like ‘nice’ cream! And I think everything is a touch better with that BOMB cashew cream.

  3. These are the type of smoothie bowls I love, super thick and creamy. I think there’s just no point if the toppings sink to the bottom! Hibiscus powder (along with that cashew drizzle) sounds like the perfect smoothie topping to me. All of this is so pretty!

  4. Love all your recipes. And by all your fantastic photos.
    As my daughter is vegan, I collect vegan recipes for the occasion’s that she visits me.

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