Açaí bowls are DELICIOUS … but what are they? Simple and delicious – That’s what! Frozen açaí puree blended with fruits and berries, and topped with banana, strawberries, coconutty granola, coconut flakes and other goodies. These are a favorite treat in this household! More often had for dessert than breakfast as we prefer to consume fruits later in the day.
But really, what is an açaí berry – and what’s with all the hype? Is it really a ‘super food’? I’ve had a bit of a hunt around and found this interesting information for you – quite a bit comes from the Mercola website – feel free to pop on over for a bit more of a read if you like. http://foodfacts.mercola.com/acai.html.
The açaí berry (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) is a small round fruit, that is deep red/purple in color. It is kind of a cross between a blueberry and a grape and is harvested from the tall, slender palm trees found around the Amazon River basin in South America (which is where I grew up by the way! In the Amazon Jungle of Ecuador.. true story! But, a story best saved for another day ;)) Not only does it taste good but the health benefits of this delicious berry are incredible!
It’s only been recently that the popularity of this berry has gained momentum due to people discovering the benefits and nutritional value of this fruit. Açaí berries are also quite perishable, but have significant nutritional attributes when eaten fresh. Açaí is expensive since the berries have to be freeze dried within 24 hours to keep their nutritional profile intact. Freeze drying preserves the goodness of açaí berries found in the skin and pulp and not in the juice.
Many often describe the taste of the the Açaí berry as similar to that of wild berries and chocolate (um YUM!). It’s found in large supermarkets and health food stores worldwide, usually as a juice or tea rather than fresh, mostly because getting them out of the Amazon with the nutrients still intact is a complicated process. I purchase my frozen organic açaí berry pulp from Coles this week.
Açaí berries are low in sugar, and contain high amounts of iron, calcium, fiber, and vitamin A. They also contain anthocyanin compounds such as resveratrol and cyaniding and ferulic acid, which not only give fruits and vegetables their distinct color, but also team up with flavonoids to defend the body against harmful free radicals. In fact, açaí berries contain 10 to 30 times more anthocyanin power than red wine. Beneficial fatty acids such as oleic acid, one of the same oils found in olive oil, is another strong point, and healthy levels of dietary fiber keep the system functioning smoothly.
The properties contained in açaí berries may help prevent health problems such as arthritis, inflammation, obesity, erectile dysfunction, neurological diseases, and allergies. Lab studies have shown them to have positive effects on ailments associated with oxidative stress, heart disease, and cancer.
Açaí berries should be consumed in moderation, because they still contain sugar, even if in lower levels than other fruits. The açaí berry offers approximately 247 calories per 100-gram serving. A 50-gram serving of powdered, freeze-dried açaí fruit pulp and skin provides about 265 calories, 26 g of carbohydrates, 4 g of protein and 16 g of fat (mostly oleic acid or monounsaturated fat). As I mentioned earlier, this is a treat for us, and most often eaten as a dessert after lunch or dinner.
Acai Bowl Recipe
- 200g of organic açaí puree (2 sachets)
- 1/4 cup frozen strawberries
- 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
- 1/2 cup of coconut water or unsweetened almond milk
- 1 handful of fresh baby spinach
- 2 Tbsp. nut butter ( I use my homemade nut butter which is a combination of macadamias, almonds and brazil nuts)
- Stevia to taste (drop it in, taste, and add more if needed) I always use Nirvana Organics mint flavoured stevia drops as I like the minty taste 🙂
- kiwi fruit, peeled and sliced or chopped (I don’t add these all the time, but they are delcious!)
- banana, sliced
- strawberries, sliced
- coconutty granola, or some type of grain free, low-carb granola
- Drizzle of raw rice malt syrup, optional – we don’t do this, but some like the extra sweetness. Again, this will come down to if you have broken your sugar addiction or not.
- In a high powered blender, blend puree ingredients (go easy on the stevia – you can always add, but you can’t take away!)
- Blend on low until larger chunks are broken down, then gradually increase speed, adding a splash of liquid at a time, and stopping to scrape down sides of blender if needed. I usually do this 2-3 times.
- When ingredients have mostly come together and all of liquid has been added, blend on high for 15 to 20 seconds more. HOw long it takes will depend on the power of your blender.
- Pour acai purée into bowls and arrange toppings in stripes or however you feel like it!
Get creative and play around with your own ingredients!
If you don’t have açaí, it’s ok – frozen berries are just as good 🙂
Greens, protein powders, fruits, nuts, seeds, avocado, goji berries, cacao powder, vanilla bean, pomegranate, pumpkin, beetroot .. the options are endless!