acia bowl topped with fresh fruit and granola
Breakfast

My First Açaí Bowl

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When I sat down to write this post about açaí bowls, embarrassingly enough, I still didn’t know how to pronounce açaí. I suppose we should start there. It is pronounced (ah-sigh-EE). I’m so glad I finally figured that out! It only took me 5+ years to google it….OK, now that I know how to say the word, let’s talk about why I have stayed in the dark for all these years.

I’m So Very Late To This Party

I know. I know. Why am I talking about açaí bowls now? This is not even close to a new thing, but I hadn’t tried one before February of this year. What in the world took me so long? Well basically anytime something feels very trendy, it makes me not want to try it. I’m immediately skeptical. I really don’t know why. It makes no sense at all. I usually put it off for way too long, then when things seem to settle down, I still don’t know how to pronounce açaí and I realize I have been missing out on this really great breakfast option for absolutely no good reason.

So What is the Deal with Açaí Bowls?

Before we jump into making our own bowl at home, I want to share a few basic things I learned about açaí.

  1. Açaí bowls are BEAUTIFUL. There is no question why these deep purple smoothie bowls are pictured all over the internet. They make for a really pretty way to start the day.
  2. Açaí berries are a nutrient-rich tropical fruit harvested from Palm trees in South American rainforests.
  3. These berries are widely considered a “superfood” because they are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients.
  4. Açaí berries are also a good source of fiber and healthy omegas 3,6, and 9.
  5. The berries themselves are very low in calories.

I won’t pretend to be well versed in nutritious eating. I know some basics, and I try to eat relatively healthy on most days. My basic nutritional goals are to incorporate a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables into my diet and to limit saturated fats and added sugars as best I can. That’s really the extent of it. I know there is way more to it than that, and that I could be eating a whole lot healthier. There is so much to learn, and I hope I will pick up on more and more as I continue to write about food and ask my questions along the way.

My First Açaí Bowl in Siesta Key, Florida

We took this really wonderful family trip to Siesta Key in February of this year. If you have never been, I highly recommend checking it out. We spent less than a week, and it was easily one of our favorite vacations. The sand is 99% quartz so it is perfectly white, and the water is clear. (the picture to the left above is a different beach we visited nearby). We swam close to dolphins and saw hundreds of stingrays during quiet evening walks on the beach. I could go on and on about the beauty and magic of Siesta Key, but I should probably get back to the açaí bowl. There was a little cafe a short walk from where we stayed called Nutricious You Plant-Based Cafe. I ordered the “American Açaí Bowl, which is pictured on the front page of their website at the time of this posting.

image from https://nutritiousyou.com/

The Memory

My first impression was that I didn’t really understand what I was eating, but I was VERY excited about it. I immediately urged my husband to try some. I couldn’t wait for him to share in this brand new experience of the açaí bowl. The texture and flavor of the berries were so unique. The berry blend was semi-frozen and tasted slightly earthy, but also sweet. I was completely lost in the combination of cold berries and perfectly ripe fresh fruit. It felt like I was eating a giant bowl of ice cream for breakfast and I couldn’t have been happier. We talked about that açaí bowl all morning long. I was mad at myself for waiting so long to try one, bummed that Dylan hadn’t ordered one for himself, and I couldn’t wait to learn more about açaí and start making these delicious bowls at home.

A Bowl of My Own

I wanted to make my own açaí bowl at home and decided to keep things very simple for my first attempt. My goal was to copy the one I had in Siesta Key at Nutritious You. The menu description of their “American Açaí Bowl” reads…fresh bananas, strawberries, blueberries, and homemade gluten-free granola. Easy enough. There are all sorts of add-ons you can choose from on their menu, but I had ordered the basic bowl as it comes. The first step to re-creating this delicious smoothie bowl was tracking down the berries.

Where Does One Buy Açaí Berries?

In the U.S., you can find açaí berry puree in the frozen food section of most grocery stores. You can also purchase it as a freeze-dried powder that can be blended with a combination of your favorite frozen fruits. I decided to go with the frozen puree because I wanted the base to be mostly açaí berries. I followed the step-by-step instructions on the back of the package to create my first bowl at home.

Package Instructions

  1. Slightly thaw the açaí packs at room temperature
  2. Blend the packs with 1/4 cup of liquid (I had 2% milk on hand) and 1/2 banana.
  3. Pour into a bowl and top with favorite fruit and granola.
acia bowl topped with fresh fruit and granola

I would follow this simple recipe a thousand times over. Making this açaí bowl was extremely straightforward, and it was absolutely delicious in its simplest form. The whole family was all in, but before we decided to adopt the açaí bowl into our regular breakfast routine, I wanted to consider whether or not it really is as healthy as it is touted to be.

How Healthy Are These Bowls, Really?

Again, I don’t pretend to be a nutritional expert, but I can share a few things I picked up on. We have already looked at some of the positive nutritional aspects of the açaí bowl, but are there any downsides? This nutrition label is a little tricky. It says a serving size is 1 pack, but the directions for making one bowl require 2 packs. That makes 24 grams of added sugar per bowl, and that doesn’t include the sugar you’ll be getting from your added fruit topping and granola if it is sweetened at all. All of that can add up quickly. Next time around, I will buy the unsweetened puree with no added sugar. Sure, I’ll want to add some elements to sweeten it up, but at least I will have some more control over how much and the source of my sugar.

I also noticed these packs only have 1 gram of protein per serving or 2 grams per bowl. That doesn’t make them unhealthy, but I want to make sure my breakfast keeps me full as I go about my day. In the future, I will probably want to bulk up my bowl by adding some chia seeds, greek yogurt, protein powder, or some other form of protein. I’d love to hear your suggestions for getting the most out of this smoothie bowl.

Where to Next?

I am going to spend some time experimenting with different açaí berry purees and mix-in combinations to work on my own recipe for a perfect açaí bowl at home. I’m really excited to get into this. I hope this post inspires you to make your own açaí bowl at home. Please let me know how it goes! Also, you should put Siesta Key on your list of places to consider for your next vacation. 🙂

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