ROCKLAND, Maine — The Super Bowl is over, but the Smoothie Bowl is just starting to kick off.

At Main Street Markets in Rockland, regulars are ditching their straws and grabbing spoons for this new take on the health shake. On campuses such as Colby College, students are forgoing the sandwich line altogether for the smoothie bar. And power breakfasters at UNION at the Press Hotel in Portland are digging into blueberry smoothies spiked with bee pollen, almond butter and oats for a healthy start.

The beverage jumps from urban enclave to school cafeteria and from cup to bowl.

For this blend of raw fruit, vegetables and dairy, there is no one size fits all.

“It’s breakfast soup,” said Jennifer Rockwell, who has been whipping up thick concoctions and layering on fruit, nuts and seeds since opening Main Street Markets this summer. Coming from Manhattan, the twentysomething strives to make cutting-edge combos such as smoothie bowls available to Mainers.

“It’s always difficult for someone to order something they have never tried,” Rockwell said. “Once they take the risk, be it a smoothie bowl or bottle of wine, they always love it.”

The smoothie bowl, popular in metropolitan parts of the country, is just starting to gain traction in Maine.

“I didn’t invent the concept. It’s something that I love and make regularly for myself,” said Rockwell, who offers a seasonal bowl each month along with the super green bowl — a spinach, pineapple, banana and almond milk base topped with granola, Maine blueberries and chia seeds. The accoutrements are layered in attractive patterns, like a high-design parfait.

Unlike a drinkable smoothie, the bowls are made sans ice and excess liquid.

“The base is thicker. You can eat it with a spoon, pour it in a bowl. Arrange add-ons on top. The texture should be smooth underneath with a crunch,” Rockwell said. The consistency is akin to frozen yogurt, soft and thick.

For added health benefits, smoothie bowls are topped with fruit and nuts, coconut, seeds — you name it.

“When you drink a smoothie, it’s a meal. You are getting a whole apple, a handful of spinach, a whole banana, a cup of almond milk and ice,” Rockwell said. By adding a spoon, “the smoothie bowl takes it to another level. With solid foods on top, it’s easier to recognize it as a meal.”

The winter warmer special is made of bananas, coconut milk, chia seeds and a dash of cinnamon. It’s topped with cooked quinoa, toasted coconut, Maine blueberries, apples and granola.

“We use as many local and organic ingredients as possible,” Rockwell said.

At Colby College in Waterville, sophomore Cal Barber was making smoothies in his dorm room with a blender when he had an epiphany. He approached the cafeteria staff and asked about adding smoothies. A Vitamix smoothie bar was installed before winter break, and students returning in early February have been flocking to the new addition.

“It’s a healthy way to stay fit and not be hungry going to class. There are a lot of athletes at Colby who want to bulk up,” said Barber, a football player who brings his own protein powder to the smoothie bar. “It’s a healthy and efficient way to pack in what you need.”

A third of the student body is partaking in the do-it-yourself smoothie bar. They buy a portable $15 cup, toss in their ingredients from the salad, fruit or smoothie bar, hit blend and are on their way. Greek yogurt, flax seeds, soy milk and kale are popular ingredients.

“They fit in with student’s fast-paced lifestyle,” said Joseph Klaus, an operations manager for Sodexo, the company that runs the school’s dining service.

Since he started with the college in 1998, Klaus has noticed students’ tastes have evolved. They are more curious about their food’s origins.

“Two fronts have morphed together: sustainability, how their food is produced and grown, and what they are eating and how it affects their body.”

Students today also want food that’s free of growth hormones and not genetically modified. The immediacy of a smoothie fits the bill. Local cabbage, beets and carrots are used for smoothies in addition to a wide range of options.

Although the machine also can be made for calorie-laden ice cream shakes, few students choose that option. More thought goes into their meals.

“Students want more control over what they eat,” Klaus said. “They help themselves to ingredients, and they go on their way. … Students love it.”

And few students have to leave campus to fuel up.

“Smoothies as a whole have become very trendy. The restaurant concepts have sprung up on campuses. … It’s portable, compact, less carbs than sandwiches,” Klaus said.

In Rockland, Main Street Markets cafe has become the go-to spot for fresh nourishment midcoast.

“If the foods I love are not available around here, I feel responsible to bring and share them with everybody,” Rockwell said.

Kathleen Pierce

A lifelong journalist with a deep curiosity for what's next. Interested in food, culture, trends and the thrill of a good scoop. BDN features reporter based in Portland since 2013.