Breakfast Acai Bowl

04/17/2019
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Acai bowls are fresh, fruity and light; yet surprisingly satisfying - the ultimate summery breakfast!

Acai (pronounced ah-sigh-EE) is a small (2.5cm round) dark purple-skinned fruit that grows on acai palms, mostly native to Brazil.

Taste-wise, they’re an earthy hybrid that sits kinda between wild berries and unsweetened dark chocolate. Although the acai berry has been a traditional staple food for Amazonian tribes for centuries (where it commonly grows), in more recent years it has gained mass popularity, with a rapidly growing global demand that now sees it cultivated in larger amounts.

The fresh berries have a short shelf life, making them unavailable outside of where they’re grown – instead they’re exported as either juice, frozen fruit pulp or freeze-dried powder; two latter blended with other fruit to make a smooth dessert-like breakfast, coined the popular acai bowl.

The consistency of acai bowls are in-between a soft-serve ice cream or really thick smoothie that totally needs a spoon. It’s typically served with an instagramable array of tasty toppings e.g. extra fresh fruit, crunchy granola, coconut chips or a drizzle of nut butter.

The Nutritional Down-Low

  • The wee acai berry has a diverse and interesting nutritional content. Per 1/2 cup fresh berries, it’s a decent source of dietary fat for a fruit (8.4g, with some coming from essential omega-3 and omega-6), dietary fibre (8.9g, which makes up most of the carbohydrates totaling 9.4g) (1), and, most notably, antioxidants – even edging out other fruit in the antioxidant department, like blueberries and cranberries (2).
  • These come from a variety of plant compounds, such as the flavonoid plant-pigment anthocyanin (3) which contribute to acai’s dark purply hue.
  • Antioxidants help minimise cell-damaging free-radicals which have gone rouge within our body – think of antioxidants as police and free-radicals as baddies. Antioxdiants run around pairing up with free-radicals, restoring balance on the (sometimes mean) streets of our body.

Superfood Status?

Because of its antioxidant content acai berries are often marketed as a ‘superfood’; which, if you’re unfamiliar and according to a generic google definition, are ‘nutrient-rich foods considered to be beneficial to health’.

To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of the term. It’s a little exploited in food marketing (and eating a range of colourful fruit and vegetables is the best way to get a good range of antioxidants, rather then celebrating a single source!). However, I do enjoy acai powder, and love using it to make acai bowls!

Not Your Traditional Acai Bowl

Traditional acai bowl recipe is essentially frozen acai pulp or freeze dried acai powder paired with other frozen fruit (e.g. banana), with a little liquid to blitz up. This is not that.

While I have tried not to butcher the original recipe, this is a version a little more suitable for breakfast as a ‘balanced’ meal. As blended fruit doesn’t keep us full for a wildly long amount of time, I have altered the recipe to include more whole food fat (avocado) and protein (in the from of a protein powder). These nutrients will slow digestion – which means energy for longer!

There’s a huge amount of variation in how you want to serve your acai bowl – try out different liquids, combinations of frozen fruit or toppings, whatever. Play and make it your own!

  • References

1) Analysed by Cronometer

2) http://www.orac-info-portal.de/download/ORAC_R2.pdf

3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16019315

Breakfast Acai Bowl

Author Danijela Unkovich
Prep Time: 5 mins
Serving Size: 1
Rating:

Ingredients:  

  • cup liquid of choice (e.g. almond milk, coconut water)
  • ¾ cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1 frozen banana (peel and slice into coins before freezing)
  • ¼ ripe avocado
  • ½ serving of unflavoured protein powder (or vanilla flavour, but it may alter taste)
  • 2 Tbsp freeze-dried acai powder
  • Optional: 1x tsp mānuka honey or runny honey

Method:

  • Add all ingredients (except the toppings) to the blender and blitz until thick and smooth
  • Pour into a bowl. Sprinkle with the toppings of your choice (e.g. yoghurt, nuts, seeds, fresh fruit, nutty granola/muesli, nut butter or coconut chips.). Dig in!

Notes:

Gluten-free?Top with a gluten-free muesli or use nuts/seeds.
Dairy-free? Don’t use dairy milk as your milk of choice - instead use almond/coconut milk, and use a plant-based protein powder instead of a whey protein powder. Top with coconut yoghurt (if using) instead of dairy yoghurt.
Vegan?Use a plant-based milk and do not use the optional honey.

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