Açaí *ah-sigh-EE* Berry

 

I have been into smoothies and smoothie bowls in the past, but I haven’t gotten that into acai bowls until I moved to Atlanta. It’s probably pretty apparent that I’m new to the acai berry, as I’ve been pronouncing it wrong for the last 4 years as a-kai instead of ah-sigh-EE so for those of you who are as unaware as I was- there you go. Pronunciation mystery solved.

What the heck is acai anyway?

It’s a berry, kind of between a grape and blueberry, that comes from slender palm trees found primarily in South America.

Traditional Uses:

While we use Acai berry products as a reason to Instagram our food, Amazon natives traditionally used these berries to treat diarrhea, parasitic infections, hemorrhages and ulcers. How pleasant.

Health Benefits

  • Full of antioxidants and anthocyanin compounds such as resveratrol and cyaniding and ferulic acidas, which help fight free radicals which are harmful to the body (this helps with anti-aging and cancer prevention, to an extent of course)
  • Rich in vitamins and minerals (iron, calcium, fiber, and vitamin A)
  • Helps maintain healthy cholesterol
  • Protects the heart
  • Improves immunity
  • Helps control prostate enlargement and can act as nature’s Viagra
  • Helps with weight control and digestion (it’s low in sugar for fruits, so that probably helps)
  • Rich in calories primarily from carbs, so it gives you energy!

 

I’m not an acai or nutrition expert, so definitely take everything I summarize with a grain of salt and do additional research in things that interest you about this berry or it’s health benefits. That said, I think the general benefits that it produces is similar to other plant foods. Since it’s hard to obtain though due to where it’s grown, it tends to be more expensive and either sold in blended packets or freeze dried powders.

So this past weekend, I decided to make my first acai bowl on my own! Well, with the help of my wonderful boyfriend anyway. Honestly, I’m not sure who was more excited for this- me or him. This was the recipe we used:

Acai Berry Base

One Serving

  • 1 pouch of frozen pure acai berry (Sambazon brand from Whole Foods)
  • 1/2 of banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen berries
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • Ice (although we missed this step)

Acai Berry Topping Options

  • Granola
  • Hemp seeds
  • Chia Seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Goji berries
  • Banana slices
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Pomegranate
  • Coconut
  • Honey

 

Some Tips: 

  • Run the frozen acai berry packet under hot water before putting into the blender. We didn’t do this and my poor personal blender got overheated trying to blend that frozen berry mix up and needed a break before getting back to the blending business. If you have a Vitamix or another strong blender, you’ll probably be fine.
  • Don’t add too much milk to the base or your bowl will have a thinner rather than thicker texture. I like it when the base feels more like ice cream or sorbet instead of being runny. Adding ice may help with this as well.
  • Be mindful of your toppings. You don’t need to add everything at once, but you can be playful. Personally, I love adding goji berries but maybe a simpler combination like strawberries, granola and coconut would be your thing. I typically go for more seeds on top rather than fill the bowl with additional berries because I like my food tasting a little less sweet or I feel a spike in my blood sugar in a way I don’t like. I’ve also had a mint leaf added to my bowl before and I liked the minty bitterness that it added to it. But, if the sweet stuff hit the spot for you, then definitely go for it. You know your own body more than I do
  • My boyfriend wanted to add yogurt to the acai bowl, so adding greek yogurt may be another option for you dairy lovers. It’s not something I tried because I don’t do dairy, but it would certainly add more protein to the recipe
  • Lastly, blend all of these base items together, then scoop it into a bowl. Top with some granola, seeds, and fruit, and voila! Hope you enjoy!

 

Love, peace, and superfoods,

Vika

 

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