AÇAÍ + BLUEBERRY SMOOTHIE BOWL

I’m shamelessly attracted to anything that can be eaten out of a bowl. Hell, even better if you can prepare and eat it from the same dish. 

This açaí smoothie bowl makes for the perfect breakfast. If you've never heard of an açaí berry, you're not alone. It quickly gaining popularity and  emerging as one of the latest superfoods. Açaí is found primarily in South America, and is cultivated from the açaí palm tree. It is round and purple, similar to a grape but darker in color. The taste is sweet, yet has a tad of bitterness — like an earthy blackberry, if you're palette can imagine that. Since it contains a pit inside, it açaí technically can't be classified as a berry, but it's perfectly fine to refer to it as a berry.

To make the berries edible after picking from the tree, they then need to be soaked in water to soften the tough outer skin (similar to dry beans). A pulp is then made my mashing the soft berries to form a dark paste. This is accompanied with just about every meal. Fresh açaí has been consumed by Amazonian tribes for decades. The açaí palm is mainly found in the Amazon rainforest and due to the remoteness of the area, it is understandably taken the modern world a bit longer to catch on. The initial issue was the fact that exporting açaí fresh is not an option, as it is highly perishable. As the worldwide demand was increasing, a solution was necessary? And did food experts come up with? Export the product as a frozen paste or even powder. It can be found in many health food stores, such as Whole Foods, or online. The most popular online vendor is Sambazon, which is from whom I purchased my frozen paste. Once the health benefits of this mysterious fruit caught on, it was soon difficult to escape it, depending on where you reside. And never too far behind, the foodies of Instagram began flooding feeds with posts açaí bowls accompanied with captions like, "Getting all of today's nutrients in just one bowl, can you believe it?"

Like many Intagram posts, this is misleading. The major difference between our consumption and Amazonian's  is the addition of unhealthy toppings and added sugar. Many of the açaí bowls being sold in those sleek and new "healthy" food and juice bars are blended with sugar and/or various sweeteners. So instead of being a bowl with a superfood base, it becomes a glorified dessert.

My challenge today was first to figure out how the heck to even make an açaí bowl and retain is healthy status. Okay, after research, I discovered that not only is it super easy to put together, but it’s especially great for these stiflingly humid August days in Georgia when you just want to chew on crushed ice all day. This is a meal that will keep you cool — and full, without a sugar crash hours later. It’s a bit like eating cold soup with assorted toppings, but slurping from a bowl is right up my alley. I kept the toppings quite simple, but you can always elaborate.

açaí + blueberry smoothie bowl

10 - 15 mins total prep time, serves 2


INGREDIENTS

1 ½ cups blueberry or frozen fruit mix of choice

8 oz açaí puree

1 ½ banana, in chunks

2 tablespoons almond or natural peanut butter

½ cup water, or natural fruit juice

3 - 4 ice cubes

½ banana, sliced

8 tablespoons granola

2 tablespoons shredded coconut

4 strawberries, thinly sliced

METHOD

In blender, place berry mix, banana, nut butter, water (or fruit juice), and ice cubes. Blend until thick and creamy. Pour evenly into serving bowls and place in freezer for 10 -15 minutes.

Remove from freezer and  and top with the banana, sliced strawberries, coconut, and and chia seeds. Serve chilled.

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