After contacting Gisele, my favourite person from Brazil, the home of the Acai Berry, I’m happy to say I now can teach you how to make an acai bowl – original style. I bet not even the hippest California Sunshine Breakfast House can serve any better. Açaí na tigela, man!
But first let’s answer a couple of important questions on acai berries and then dive into how to make a proper acai bowl.
What is acai?
Acai is a dark purple berry that tastes like a combination of wild berries, chocolate and soil, yep soil. The berry is not sweet and you can’t just munch them like blueberries, because about 90% of it is the stone!
The berries grow on the acai palm tree, natively around the Amazon river in South America (1). Since these trees need rainforest conditions, Brazil and surrounding countries are pretty much the only places where acai berries are cultivated.
Oh and Açaí is pronounced: ‘ah-sigh-EE’
Health benefits of acai berries
You probably want to make an acai bowl, because you heard of the amazing health benefits this so-called superfruit brings along?
Well, here is what they do for you:
Acai berries are a rich in antioxidants (like other berries too). That’s great, because a diet rich in antioxidants has been linked to contribute against the effects of aging and diseases like cancer (2, 3). That’s also why marketing people love using that word. “High in antioxidants here, rich in antioxidants there.”
On top of that, acai berries are rich in fiber, protein and have high levels of heart healthy fats.
The hype around the acai berries surely rose due to the claims they help you slow down aging and lose weight. Both claims are rather bogus though (4).
So, is the acai berry a superfood?
Yes it is. But so is any other berry! Give acai a shot if you’re after something new, for example our original acai bowl recipe from my Brazilian friend! But don’t expect any miracles 🙂 (5).
In what form should we use acai berries for our acai bowl?
Let’s use fresh acai berries! Not possible unfortunately.
Fresh acai berries will be difficult to get, unless you live in Brazil and happen to have a an acai berry palm tree growing close by. That you’re allowed to harvest.
They go rancid very quickly which is why they cannot be shipped fresh. But luckily there are other options!
What about acai berry juice for the bowl?
Acai Juices are a bit of a problem too. At room temperature the juice quickly loses many of its beneficial nutrients. Also, you don’t really know how much acai is in your juice: some studies have shown you often find less antioxidants (the stuff acai is so famous for) in acai juice than in regular apple juice (6).
So if you’re after the nutrients of these berries, making our acai bowl with juice isn’t the best option.
Ok then, but Frozen Acai Puree works?
Acai Puree works excellently for an acai bowl. It’s usually sold in packs of 100 g/3.53 oz and costs you around $2.50 per pack. High quality products are shock frozen right after harvesting to preserve as many nutrients as possible. Also, you shouldn’t find any additives or sweeteners in it.
Incredible but true: you can even buy frozen acai puree online (Amazon Link)! The packs arrive frozen at your doorstep. (They put dried ice into the parcel. How cool is that? Literally, haha).
Can I also use Acai Berry Powder for my bowl?
Yes, Acai Berry Powder works fine too! For a good quality powder you clock in at around $4.5 per ounce ($20 per 100g). The product is dry-frozen, which basically means the pulp is frozen and then the water is removed. It’s a great way to preserve nutrients.
You can buy acai powder online. If you do, make sure you pick a good quality product like this one (Amazon Link)!
And what about those Acai Capsules?
Acai Capsules will not serve for an acai bowl. Plus, there are some naughty scams out there trying to sell you acai berry capsules as a miracle weight loss product (7). And they’re not tasty either. For that reason we’ll skip them.
Looks all good, but why is acai so damn expensive?
It’s not because it’s a mystical superberry which is arduous to grow and painfully harvested. Actually it’s a cheap, abundant product in Brazil. The price goes up because of the processing, transportation and tax. And a good deal of the price is a profit margin, I’m sure.
How to make an acai bowl
And now the real fun begins!
The typical Brazilian Acai Bowl is called Açaí na tigela and pretty much consists of frozen acai berry pulp and a dash of guarana syrup. It’s served with some granola and a few slices of banana on top. You’ll find it everywhere around the beach areas in Brazil. Since guarana syrup is hard to find, the closest you can get to that recipe is by using these packs with guarana extract (Amazon Link).
We’ll make a healthier breakfast version of this classic replacing the guarana syrup and granola. Healthier, but awesome. It’s all you could wish for in an acai bowl!
Dark purple colour, lovely ice-creamy texture, refreshing and sweet, but filling. All in all this is a really tasty and feel-good breakfast.
- A handful of frozen berry mix
- 1 (frozen) banana
- 1 pack of acai puree (or 2 tsp of acai powder with 3-4 ice cubes)
- 3-4 tbsp oats
- 150ml soy milk / rice milk
- 1 tsp of maple syrup (or honey for non-vegans)
- For garnish
- Coconut flakes
- Chia seeds
- Mango (here is how to cut a mango properly)
- Chopped nuts like almonds
- If you use a frozen pack of acai puree make sure you break it in a couple of places before you throw it into a blender. If you go the powder + ice cube route be sure your blender can handle it!
- To get it really ice-creamy first peel and put the banana into the freezer for two hours.
- To make the acai bowl add all the ingredients into the blender and blend until smooth.
- Now garnish as you wish.
As you see making an acai bowl is really easy! And since these berries have gotten quite popular in the last couple of years many food bloggers have been doing their version of this tasty and healthy breakfast treat.
And last but not least check out the best 8 acai bowl recipes I could find in the whole wide internet:
- For a quick brekkie: No Fuss Acai Berry Spinach Smoothie
- For a slow Sunday morning: Irish Porridge with Acai Berry Ripple and Pistachio Cream
- With some greek yogurt in it! Quick and Easy Acai Bowl
- Here is a Fall Inspired Acai Bowl – Cool mix!
- Ever used a pineapple as a smoothie bowl? Check out this Tropical Acai Bowl!
- Or try out this Summer Acai Bowl out of a coconut!
- Interested in an acai & chia combo for breakfast? Here you go (not a super quick recipe though)
- Not an acai bowl, but I thought you would like it: Acai Bowl Cheesecakes!
Right then, I’m pretty sure you’re now sorted regarding anything and everything around acai – enjoy! 🙂