Acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) has become crazy popular recently. You’ve probably seen acai in anything from smoothies to candy (these are awesome), and in by far the most popular form: the acai bowl, a snack that’s gained so much following, a number of cafés have popped up around the country specifically to sell acai bowls.
There are already at least a half dozen acai bowl/juice bars in a 30-minute radius of my house (keep reading for my favorites). If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’m a mega fan so let’s take a step back and figure out what the heck we’re all eating, and why it’s supposedly so good for us.
via Epicurean Mom
The acai berry comes from the acai palm, a species of palm tree found on the banks of the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil. (Don’t they kind of look like crisp little blueberries?)
The antioxidant-rich berry has quickly built up a mega following because of its “superfood” status; it has many health benefits including:
- Heart health: According to research, acai berries are high in anthocyanins, a form of plant antioxidant associated with lowering cholesterol levels in the blood stream.
- Glowing skin: Some skin care products already incorporate acai oil, due to its high antioxidant content, but eating the berries can also promote glowing skin.
- Strong immune system: Acai is high in Vitamin C and ellagic acid, an immune-system-boosting combination that’s been shown to suppress the growth of cancer, according to Global Healing Center.
- Anti-aging: Once again, because of the high antioxidant content, acai berries are said to slow or reverse aging processes related to oxidative damage.
- Improved digestion: Acai berries are high in fiber, aiding in a healthy digestive system.
via Keepin’ It Kind
Acai bowls are pureed acai berry (blended into a thick, smoothie-like consistency) topped with granola, fruit, chia seeds, hemp seeds, nuts, etc. Some places even mix in additional fruits, protein powders, and in one case, activated charcoal, before topping it.
They’re perfect for breakfast, lunch (top with peanut or almond butter for some protein!), or even an afternoon snack.
via The Chalkboard
Depending on where you live, there’s likely a juice bar close by that also sells acai bowls. If not, check your nearest Whole Foods for acai puree in the frozen section. (the most well known brand is Sambazon). I recently purchased it like this after a few friends raved about it — also finding it an effective way to get some added nutrients into their little ones.
Hint: if you’re buying the acai puree to make your own bowl, toss it in the blender with a few frozen banana slices and a splash of coconut or almond milk to add a little sweetness to the tart flavor and to get a smooth, creamy texture.
Local to me and want to try? My favorite spots include: Field of Greens and Bee Organics in Downtown West Palm Beach, of Raw Juce in Palm Beach Gardens, and Three Natives and Rocksteady in Jupiter.
Personally, I love it with almond butter (though in fairness, I think I eat a container of Trader Joe’s chunky almond butter each week), strawberries and banana slices. A variety of toppings like goji berries, granola and almond slices give it a crunch, however I try to be mindful of not adding too much sugar or calories to each bowl.
Do you make or buy acai bowls? If so, share your recipes and favorite combinations below!