San Diego on my mind.
In this Starbucksificated, tech-laden world of retail chains, Instagram shares, web posts, YouTube videos and live streaming, it’s rare to stumble upon something new. Or shall I say, “new to you.” As access increases, the world continually gets smaller. I mean, is there anything that you can’t think of one minute and find on your doorstep the very next day a la Amazon Prime. This is mostly good, unless you are like me and cherish the “hidden gem.”
It’s this love of discovery that had me thrilled when just off the plane in San Diego, my friend Ron turns to me and asks, “Hungry? In the mood for an Acai Bowl?” I quickly admitted that I hadn’t a clue what an Acai Bowl was and hell, yeah I wanted to try one!
Turns out that Acai Bowls were born in San Diego and are everywhere! There are shops dedicated to them and Whole Foods has a made-to-order counter. Simply stated, an Acai Bowl is a thick smoothie made with frozen pureed acai berries and topped with whatever your heart’s desire. You eat it with a spoon, rather than a straw, in a bowl–duh.
There are many, well documented health benefits to acai–“the king of the superfood jungle.” Acai is an anti-oxidant, shown to have anti-aging properties; is naturally low in sugar, so you get the benefits of fruit without the glycemic load; contains omega fatty acids, healthy fats that are good for your skin, hair, heart and brain; and fiber, which helps you feel full longer, aids in digestion, regulates blood sugar and lowers cholesterol. I ate two of these bowls during my short visit to San Diego and came home on a mission.
A Monday morning visit to my local Safeway had me pleasantly surprised–okay, shocked–that right in the freezer section with the other frozen fruit, I found Pure Unsweetened Acai Berry packs by Sambazon. Booyah! I picked up some berries, bananas, coconut flakes and granola and went home to experiment. After a little investigation, I found that most Acai Bowl recipes had you blend the pureed acai with a banana (frozen or fresh) and about a quarter cup of liquid, such as almond or soy milk. There are many recipes out there, even one printed directly on the packet of acai puree (and by the way, the freezer bag I bought included 4 individually packaged sleeves of puree–enough for four bowls). I experimented over the course of the week and came out with a bowl with the perfect consistency for me. I suggest that you try it my way and go from there–thickening the bowl with yogurt if you choose or thinning it with more liquid if you prefer. The power of your blender will be a major factor in consistency and my blender is only mediocre. This recipe includes my favorite toppings but other possibilities include (and are certainly not limited to): raspberries, strawberries, goji berries, sliced peaches, mango, nut butter, cacao chips, chopped nuts, seeds…the list goes on and on. The objective is that you end up with some combination of thick acai puree, chopped fruit and granola. Go to town!
And with this I say, sayonara for the summer. It is my time to recharge and reboot. I promise to be back in September with a plethora of new recipes and stories. Until then.
- 1 packet acai berry puree
- 1 frozen banana
- 1/4-1/2 c almond milk (or coconut milk/water; soy milk; etc.)
- 1/2 c granola, divided
- 1/2 fresh banana, sliced
- 1/4 c of blueberries
- 1/8 c flaked, unsweetened coconut, toasted
- Run the acai berry puree packet under hot water for 10 seconds. Open packet and break-up into blender. Add frozen banana (broken up) and 1/4 c of almond milk to acai in blender.
- Puree, adding up to a 1/4 c more liquid if necessary, to reach a thick, smooth consistency. Depending on the power of your blender you may need to stop occasionally to move the frozen ingredients around with a spatula. Once the desired consistency is reached, set aside.
- Meanwhile, place about 1/4 c of granola in the bottom of a bowl.
- Pour in the acai blend.
- Top with 1/4 c granola, sliced banana, blueberries, and tasted coconut.
- As mentioned in the post, you can top your acai bowl with any fruits, nuts or seeds that you desire. As a rule of thumb, granola is included.