Açaí bowls are one of my favorite smoothie renditions; make it thicker, give it toppings, and put it in a bowl instead of a cup!
Sounds easy, but can actually be quite a struggle to get the right consistency. And although these trendy like treats are widely available at cafes and juice bars across the country, they’re usually way overpriced (in my opinion) and so simple to make that I prefer to just do it myself! Here I’m going to provide some of my tips and tricks to make the perfect açaí bowl at home, as well as a little bit of reasoning as to why you should use açaí fruit in the first place.
The first step is to select the frozen fruit that you want to be the base of your bowl! This is most commonly a mixed berry base (blueberries, raspberries, strawbs, etc.) because it pairs really nicely with the açaí juice, but I have also used tropical fruits like mango, papaya, and pineapple as well as other sweet fruits like frozen peaches and cherries and they still taste amazing with the açaí juice.
So don’t just restrict yourself to the traditional berry bowl blend! I believe that making smoothies/açaí bowls is one of the best methods to incorporate a diversity of fruits into your diet! The only fruit that I would recommend to add to every açaí bowl is frozen banana because it just gives the smoothie a perfect texture.
Once you’ve selected your frozen fruit blend throw it into a blender with the frozen banana (I usually do one whole banana chopped into pieces). Then pour in your açaí juice, I use the Sambazon brand açaí juice, sold at Costco, but any brand is fine.
If you have frozen açaí juice packets instead of cold, fresh juice (which Sambazon also sells) you can just switch around the recipe a little bit. Reduce your amount of frozen fruit slightly and add in 1/2 packet cut into pieces and then substitute the açaí juice with any juice of your choice! I have done it this way using everything from orange juice to almond milk with it turning out delicious, so don’t be afraid to switch it up!
Here is the MAJOR TRICK to making a good açaí bowl:
Whatever liquid it is that you choose to add, make sure you do not add too much of it! This is essentially what differentiates a smoothie from an açaí bowl (except for the intentional use of açaí berry).
If you add too much liquid the bowl will not have the thick ice cream- like texture that you want. You can always add more later so I suggest starting off with just a couple splashes of juice. You will notice that the fruit is not blending up as smoothly as it would with a smoothie, and that’s exactly what you want. Gradually add small amounts of juice and then just let the blender sit on high for as long as it takes to blend!
Sometimes you will think that you need to add more liquid because nothing is even moving inside the blender, but it’s a trick! If you just periodically take off the lid and push down on the fruit with a spoon it will help the blender do its job better. You’ll know when its done because it will be thick and almost creamy-looking and when you give it a stir it should hold its shape.
Be patient! It sometimes takes my blender (Ninja professional) up to four minutes and many, many times of poking with a spoon in order to fully blend the fruit.
The next MAJOR TRICK that I have to offer is one that makes life easier for you!
Pre-cut up your toppings!!! Whatever it is; banana, peach, kiwi, pineapple, strawberries, plum, mango, etc. Pre-cut it up into small chunks and have it waiting before the smoothie part is even done.
Same goes for dry toppings; granola, coconut flakes, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, etc. Get those out and ready because you want to just be able to throw them right on the smoothie after it is in the bowl because it will melt and it will melt much faster than you would think! I have had this happen to me so many times, and so I can speak from experience when I say that having the toppings ready to go will make for a better açaí bowl and a happier you!
Okay, so back to assembling your bowl, I personally like to fill my açaí bowls all the way to the top. But unfortunately that always leaves little room for the toppings (which are secretly my favorite part). My way of getting around that is to fill the bottom of the bowl with toppings before adding in the smoothie! I usually just put a big handful of my homemade granola and some chia seeds at the bottom to give an extra crunch and then reserve the fresh fruit for the top, but you can fill it with whatever you want extra of! (click here for my go-to granola recipe!)
Scoop out the thick açaí smoothie into your prepared bowl with a rubber spatula, throw your favorite toppings on, and enjoy!
Now that you know how to make the perfect açaí bowl for yourself, here are some reasons why you should!!
Açaí berries are not just a trendy fruit to add to your smoothie, they are actually an incredibly healthy addition and there have been many scientific studies looking into the promising properties of the fruit and its implications on human health. Açaí berries are particularly rich in antioxidant compounds which protect against free radicals in the body and have been associated with decreased risk of developing cardiovascular disease and cancer.
For example, in a 2011 study, 10 overweight individuals were given 200 grams of Sambazon brand acai pulp a day for a period of one month. They were instructed to prepare and drink two smoothies a day, each containing 100 grams of acai pulp. Prior to starting the experiment each participant was tested for baseline levels of blood glucose, insulin and cholesterol. Throughout the duration of the study these levels were continually recorded following the consumption of a meal. After one month of observation all the participants showed an average reduction in their cholesterol and blood glucose levels as well as an increase in insulin sensitivity. This means that after only one month of incorporating açaí into their diets all 10 participants showed an increase in health and lowering of disease risk. Therefore, this study suggests that there is a correlation between increasing the intake of antioxidants through acai berries and reducing the risk of developing metabolic syndrome (medical term for the increased risk of developing diabetes and heart disease) in overweight adults. Although this study was limited in the amount of participants, it still provides valuable insight into the importance of dietary decisions on our health. Specifically, the role of antioxidants from fruit in disease prevention. (Click here to view the full study!)