What Exactly Is Acai?
The acai fruit is a nutritional powerhouse! It’s linked to improving cognitive function, heart health, and even having anticancer properties. The berries are also known for health benefits that include improvements in skin quality, weight loss, and even exercise-induced muscle injury recovery! It’s no wonder then that adding this incredible berry to your diet is gaining popularity here in the States.
The berry itself resembles a dark purple grape and hails from Central and South America. Which means, I wasn’t able to find it in the fresh produce section of the local supermarket. And that’s not because I wasn’t looking hard enough!
Acai fruits are rich in antioxidants (more than cranberries or blueberries) and contain fiber and healthy fats. Acai is high in a particular antioxidant known as anthocyanin. Anthocyanin has been observed to lower oxidative stress, inflammation, and improve brain health. Additionally, anthocyanins also have been found to fight against cancer. The berries are also naturally sugar-free, too-which may also aid in cancer-fighting, or at least cancer-inhibiting, properties of the berries.
Am I Saying Acai Right?
I walked around for years pronouncing this fruit’s name incorrectly. Years. I think back now and wonder how many people have heard me talk about this superfruit without telling me that I was saying its name incorrectly. Since it’s not native to the States, I had never heard it said out loud before. I had only read about it, and there’s a chance you haven’t either. Let me save you the embarrassment of mispronouncing it. It’s ah-sigh-ee. Big sigh of relief knowing you’re not going to be saying it wrong while asking a helpful Target employee where to find it!
What’s So Great About Acai Bowls?
Acai tastes like an earthy berry (think blackberry or mulberries) with an undertone of cocoa. Chocolate covered strawberries, anyone? Plus, a homemade acai bowl is a nutritional powerhouse. So if you learn how to make an acai bowl, you’ve just become a rockstar in healthy eating. The full nutritional acai bowl benefits depend on the acai bowl recipe you choose (See below for a satisfying acai bowl recipe). Nutritional values will differ depending on what you top your homemade acai bowl with. That’s the benefit of making your own bowl—you know exactly what and how much you are eating.
Mindfully Building Your Own Acai Bowl Recipe
Making your own acai bowl is as simple as blending just a few acai bowl ingredients together and adding your favorite complimentary toppings. Creating the ideal consistency is really the KEY! Too much liquid and you’re going to be drinking it like this morning’s cereal milk.
Here are a few quick tips to make sure your nutritious snack turns out just right:
- Buy Acai From Reputable, Quality Sources
Acai supplements are not well regulated. Sambazon is a great brand that has sustainable harvesting. They make a pure, unsweetened acai puree that can be found in the frozen food section of most health food stores like Walmart, Target and Trader Joe’s.
- Buy Unsweetened Versions
Acai is naturally low in sugar. So, don’t waste that health benefit by purchasing varieties that add that sugar back in during processing. Those added sugars aren’t healthy, and the bowl will be sweet enough thanks to my favorite secret ingredient.
- Freeze Ingredients
This means you’ll have to do a little preparing ahead of time for the best version of your acai bowl. Everything needs to be frozen before its blended. Acai packets are purchased frozen. Other berries are easy to purchase frozen as well. You’ll want to freeze your bananas a few hours before you start to make your bowl. You want this bowl to be thick, so the more frozen your ingredients are, the better!
- Small Pieces
Blending was much easier as soon as I learned to break up the acai puree into blendable size pieces (½ -1 inch). I also made sure to cut my bananas in similar sized pieces. Also, if your frozen mixed berries are frozen in clumps, break those up too. Think of it as setting your blender up for success!
- Use a High-Powered Blender
There’s a lot of frozen ingredients here. Make sure your blender packs the same punch as this nutritional powerhouse and you’ll be good to go! A weak blender is not going to cut it. You’re going to be blending up lots of frozen fruit and very little liquid. So, power is your friend! I use a Vitamix-900 series.
- How to Save What You Don’t Eat
It’s really not ideal to wait and eat an acai bowl. They are definitely best when served immediately. However, there are ways that you can postpone enjoying their fruity goodness. Refrigerating: Cover any unserved portion (without the toppings) and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Freezing: To freeze and re-prepare your acai bowl, do not add the toppings. Pour an unserved portion into a freezer-friendly ziplock bag. Lay it flat in the freezer. When you are ready to make this frozen bowl again remove it from the freezer, break into pieces, and blend. (You may have to let it thaw just slightly depending on your blender.)
- Consistency is KEY
In order for your acai bowl to be delicious, you’ll want to take special care to get the mixture to the ideal consistency. Too much liquid and you’ll end up with a smoothie (trust me on this, it took me at least 4 different attempts before I got this right!). Too little liquid and you’ll likely not be able to blend out the chunks for an even texture. Ideally, your final product will resemble soft serve ice cream.
Serving size: 1 bowl
Total Fat: 8.8g
Total Carbohydrate: 32.7g
*This recipe was prepared, tested, and taste approved by kids ages 6-12.
Acai bowls are really fun to play with, especially the toppings!
Try some of these great acai bowl toppings:
- Freshly Sliced Fruit (pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, mango, peaches, kiwi, blackberries…you get the picture)
- Chia Seeds
- Cacao Nibs
- Hemp Seeds
- Almond Slivers
- Bee Pollen Granules
- Chopped Pecans or Walnuts
You can make this acai bowl with acai powder if you don’t have the frozen acai berry puree. Just swap 1 Tbsp. acai powder for the packet.
Another easily substituted ingredient is the almond or coconut milk. Try coconut water or your favorite juice (apple, cranberry, tart cherry, etc.).
Acai bowls are fun for the whole family! Prepare the base of the bowl and set out a smorgasbord of toppings. Everyone will love this healthy, refreshing treat they can personalize to their palate.
You can even use a dollop of this acai bowl as topping to your morning bowl of breakfast oatmeal. The possibilities are endless! Share with us your favorite way to make your homemade acai bowls.