One of the food trends that shot up to social media prominence in the recent years are acai bowls. Pronounced as a-sigh-ee, the main ingredient is the acai berry, which is a fruit from the acai palm, a tree that is native in Brazil, specifically in the Pará and Amazonas region. This grape/berry-like fruit which was a staple for lunch and dinner, was practically unknown outside of Brazil, until in the 2000s when the other Western countries took notice and declared it as a “global superfruit”!
With the burgeoning awareness and demand for healthier food alternatives, the acai bowls have become one of the latest go-to option for breakfast or snack! And it helps that these come in colorful and beautifully presented smoothie bowls, that are not only tasty, but aesthetically pleasing as well.
Acai Bowl Trivia
- In northern Brazil, the original acai bowls were not prepared as sweet treats. These were more of a salty dish, topped by shrimp or dried fish and tapioca pearls. Toppings and preparation of the bowls are said to vary per region.
- The seed makes up for about 80% of the acai fruit and the remaining percent is the pulp that contains the nutritional value.
- The acai berry is said to contain high levels of antioxidants. Though it has not been scientifically proven yet, it is touted that this fruit can help in lowering cholesterol, maintain heart health, reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, aid in weight loss and so much more.
- Tagged as the ones who have introduced acai outside Brazil are brothers Ryan and Jeremy Black, through a company they established in 2000. Then college students, the two stumbled upon the fruit during their trips to the country and saw its potential to be a big thing back home.
- The acai berry was first called a superfood in 2004 at the Oprah Winfrey Show.
- This is one lucrative market, as the acai berry market was valued at $720 million in 2019 and is expected to expand annually by 12.6% from 2020 to 2025.
Acai Bowl Buying Guide
The acai bowls are presented in these appetizingly arranged bowls and are usually sold in juice bars, healthy stalls, cafes, and even food trucks. For those who want to make their own, the acai berry can be bought in frozen puree and dry powder variations. It cannot be exported and sold in its raw fruit form, as it has a very short shelf life.
Some brands have also joined the trend and sold pre-packed acai bowls that are available in supermarkets.
Acai Bowl Production & Farming in Texas
It was reported that while acai and acai bowls have already made it big in other areas, their entrance in the Texas Dallas-Fort Worth area happened only a few years ago, at the establishment of acai cafes and bars. But despite being late in joining the trend, the number of these establishments have been rapidly increasing since then!
Preservatives, Additives and Chemicals
Acai bowls are mainly made of the acai berry smoothie and should not contain any preservatives, additives, or chemicals since it will be contrary to its purpose of being a healthy superfood. In pre-packed acai bowls, the list of ingredients mostly notes organic and natural contents, aside from ascorbic acid and citric acid, which are usually used for color retention and as a flavoring and preserving agent.
However, the question about its wholesomeness starts with the toppings that are added to the bowls, especially those which get fully loaded. Choose natural ingredients instead of processed ones to preserve the organic state of the acai. Others also raise concerns about the high-calorie count of each serving and the sugar content with the combination of all the fruits, syrups, and other ingredients that were used as toppings.
Acai bowls are usually served fresh in cafes and bars. For pre-packed bowls, they are presented in these deep paper or plastic containers and tubs, with clear lids, to highlight the beautiful topping arrangements. For the brands sold in supermarkets, some of them are packed in plastic tubs, just like ice cream!
Enjoying Acai Bowls
Acai bowls are normally eaten with bananas or other fruits, granola and guarana syrup, also made from a Brazilian native plant. Other topping suggestions include fruit slices, shredded coconuts, chia seeds, oats, almonds, chocolate or dark chocolate chips, peanut butter, honey, fruit juices, and so much more. You can pretty much add whatever you prefer, make it as colorful and Instagrammable as you want, or remain faithful to eating healthy by adding more organic and less sugary toppings.
Want more healthy suggestions on making your acai bowls? Add in some greens like spinach and kale to the acai puree!
The Huffpost tagged the acai bowl as the “world’s best healthy breakfast,” but other people prefer grabbing a bowl before workout, to quickly pump up some energy or after workout as a recovery meal.
You can make your acai bowls ahead of time, by freezing the acai puree in serving size portion in jars or bowls. Add your toppings upon taking them out of the freezer or when ready to eat. They should also be put in insulated containers if you will be taking them to school or work.
Making your own acai bowl
The Food Network Kitchen shares a simple acai bowl recipe. But you can mix and match your own! Try to watch out for your add-ons and the serving size to perfectly balance your diet and check on your calories.
- 2 4-ounce packs unsweetened frozen acai puree
- 1 medium banana
- ½ cup blueberries
- 1 tbsp. honey
- 3 tbsp. granola
- 2 tbsp. pomegranate seeds
- 1 tbsp. unsweetened coconut flakes
- Blend the acai puree along with half of the banana and the blueberries and with the honey. Stop and stir the mixture as needed until it reaches the consistency of a thick smoothie.
- Transfer the mixture to a cereal bowl.
- Slice the remaining half of the banana and arrange the slices on top of the acai puree, with the remaining blueberries, the granola, pomegranate seeds, and coconut flakes.