Summary: Açaí berries are a trendy new thing on the Western markets. We hear about it as a fabulous weight loss support and a superfood. Beyond that, we don’t have much more information. We can’t see it on the fruit stands at the supermarket, it is not sold at the weekend farmers market either. Well then, where is this fruit coming from? How does it look and taste like? We endeavor to find out all about these berries! Come and join the Templars.
All about the Açaí berry
Recently I stumbled upon a few açaí bowl bars around town. For the first look açaí looked like ice cream, and as I am not a huge ice-cream fan, I wasn’t too excited or overly interested. (I rather like healthy fruit smoothies, and frozen, fruit-based slushies in the summer, especially with a big dash of crunchy organic peanut butter.) However, it seemed that oppose to most ice creams out there, açaí was a healthy dish. It spiked my curiosity, I went on an expedition to find out more. The outcome? I transformed into a mad açaí fan, and I can’t have enough! It is not only a sinfully delicious fruit (mostly puree) but it is also a healthy snack or breakfast option.
The origins of the Açaí berries
The berries grow on the açaí palm tree in the heart of the Brazilian rainforest. The fruit resembles a grape and has a naturally sweet taste with chocolatey overtones. Acai berries contain lots of antioxidants, healthy fats, a good amount of fiber, vitamins, and other beneficial nutrients. It also has a very short season and it is quite a fragile berry, hence the most obvious availability is in the form of frozen puree. It is not a rocket science to make açaí bowls at home, however, you have to get the texture of the fruit right.
You need to blend it to a texture that is smooth enough to scoop it up with a spoon, but hard enough not to melt in a watery poodle around your choice of other fruits and nuts. One of the benefits of the açaí berries is that it’s quite a filling dish when making it into a bowl. It also tastes sweet without a sugar high. The low GI of the dish helps you to feel energized and content for quite a while without the sugar crash at the end.
The benefits of Açaí berries
There are many benefits to eating these mighty berries! Regular consumption not only helps to slow down the aging process but also offers various health benefits such as:
- Açaí has one of the highest ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity) foods. ORAC is a measurement of how antioxidants can neutralize free radicals. The higher those values, the better they fight free radicals. Acai has almost ten times more of antioxidants than grapes, and more than double the antioxidants of blueberries. It also contains an antioxidant called anthocyanins, which is excellent for heart health including lower blood pressure.
- Acai berries contain lots of amino acids that help with improved muscle performance, higher energy levels, endurance, and strength.
- Acai is high in essential fatty acids, contains lots of vitamins such as C, A, B1, B2, B3, and E.
- Its fiber can aid digestion, and prevent or relieve constipation.
- May help support a healthy cardiovascular system.
- A good source of calcium, magnesium, copper, and zinc.
How to make your Açaí bowls?
Mixing açaí berries with other fruits is the easiest, healthiest and tasty option. I recommend adding a scoop of crunchy, organic, espresso peanut butter (because everything in the whole world tastes better with that!), some strawberries, a banana and some coconut milk. The coconut milk just adds an extra layer of creaminess to the flavor. It is also a good, additional source of energy and nutrients. If you don’t have coconut milk on hand, you can also use coconut water, almond-, rice-, or soy milk, as well as regular milk to your mixture. Once the açaí is well blended, you can also add rolled oats, cold porridge, mixed dried fruits, chia seeds, mixed nuts such as almonds, macadamia nuts, or walnuts.
One of my favorite combinations is the bowl made with dark chocolate. Not only because it tastes amazing, but also because it gives a good punch of energy. Dark chocolate contains high amounts of anti-oxidants. It is also rich in fiber, iron, and magnesium, and it is said to improve brain functions too (who doesn’t appreciate that?). To me, this is a win-win combination for a healthy, nutritious, and delicious breakfast or afternoon snack.
You can also put some chia seeds in coconut milk for the night and next morning combine it with açaí berries. Add some oats, half an avocado and decorate it with blueberries, and coconut flakes.
To some people starting the day with breakfast is difficult. I am one of those and I don’t like to eat much before 9-10am. This dish is awesome! If you want to know more about the berries, check here. It is light while actually, these bowls keep me energized until I sit down to my (late) lunch. If you can’t find the Açaí puree in your corner store, hit up your local directory and find the closest Açaí bar to you.