You’ve seen the bowls and are intrigued by the purple color and bright toppings, but perhaps are not quite sure what it is. Açaí (pronounced AH-sigh-EE) is a berry that grows on a palm tree in the Amazon Rainforests of South America. The berries are dark purple in color and taste like a cross between a blackberry and dark chocolate. They’re about 1 inch in size and have a pit. Having a pit technically makes them a “drupe”, but commonly referred to as berries.
These berries ripen so quickly after being picked, they are required to be in frozen form, or powder or juice, to enter the USA to ensure safety. The best quality of açaí in the USA is organic and 100% açaí puree’ with nothing added. The açaí bowl as we know it is a Brazilian inspired breakfast and dessert that’s delicious and nutritious.
Açaí bowls became popular in the 1990s on the west coast with athletes due to the superfood benefits. Because of their taste and consistency, and simply being a fun and healthier alternative to ice cream, the bowls quickly became desirable. Açaí bowls are typically dairy-free, making them a great option for those with allergies or following a plant-based diet. Surfers in CA and Hawaii popularized them as a tasty and healthy treat after riding the waves. In Hawaii, nothing beats the freshly shredded coconut, mango chunks, juicy pineapple, and sliced banana for toppings. So, if you visit Hawaii, taste testing açaí bowls there is a must!
Let’s talk about the blended base. The beauty of an açaí bowl is the versatility for you to add only the ingredients that you enjoy! There isn’t a set recipe you have to use. For the desired consistency (like frozen yogurt), blend the frozen puree’ with a bit of liquid (juice or non-dairy milk), banana and one other fruit. Sweeten it however you like, or don’t add any sweetener. It’s also a great way to get some extra nutritional supplements in your diet by blending them in such as protein powder or spirulina. Want a more chocolaty flavor that’s still natural? Add some cacao powder. Mix in what you like. The options are limitless, and that’s just for the blended base! Note: Beware of açaí sorbet which contains a much higher sugar content. Because sorbet is pre-packaged by the manufacturer and scooped out of a container, no ingredients can be removed.
Now for the really fun part- toppings! Beautiful bowls are so Instagram worthy! You know what I mean with the pretty rows of different colors. Granola is a popular first topping to add a crunchy and hardy texture, then comes the fresh fruit. All berries are quite nice and really compliment the taste of the açai blend. Fresh banana slices are a staple as well. Still many more topping options…nuts, cacao nibs, chia seeds or any type of seeds. The final topper, the crown if you will, is a drizzle of nut butter, honey or agave. Açaí bowls are truly the perfect, delicious & refreshing choice to give you a boost any time of day which you can enjoy without guilt!
So what’s so healthy about this fruit anyway? Antioxidants. Açaí has an incredible amount of antioxidants- three times as many as blueberries! Antioxidants are important because they neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals throughout the body. Açaí also contains healthy fats and fiber. Additionally, there’ve been several studies that show açaí can help boost brain function and lower cholesterol. It’s a superfruit for sure!
With warmer weather on its way, and National Açaí Bowl Day being April 6th, now’s the time to partake! What are your favorite toppings? Vibes Juice Bar will make it your way and is now OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK. Cheers to your health and enjoyment.