Travelling to Brazil has been really inspiring. “Slow living” is a life approach that many Brazilians adopt, thanks to the incredible wealth of the natural resources that the country has to offer.
Slow Living in Brazil has been, to me, all about how to sustainably use these resources. Drinking fresh coconut water straight out of a raw coconut. Eating plenty of fresh fruit for breakfast. Strolling around sunny streets simply wearing flip-flops. 100% slow living!
What really stunned me, was this fruit that I had never heard of before: açaí.
Açaí is used to prepare a soft-textured all-natural and vegan açaí bowl. It is absolutely delicious, and the perfect way to replace the more sugary, and less healthy, ice-cream alternative.
What is Açaí?
Açaí is a berry native to Central and South America, it’s mostly found in the Amazon forest in Brazil, and it grows on açaí palm trees.
Açaí has played a fundamental role in the diets of the Amazon’s indigenous population for many centuries before it became a trend in Brazil (source: Discover the History and Benefits of the Acai Berry, HealthAmerica). The Amazon tribes used açaí for medicinal purposes, as well as food. In fact, thanks to their antioxidants properties, açaí berries are considered a “superfood” (“a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being”, source: ‘superfood’, wikipedia).
Some studies have even shown that açaí’s antioxidants properties may be even higher than the cranberries, blueberries and strawberries ones (source: Brent A. Bauer, M.D, What are acai berries, and what are their possible health benefits?, The Mayo Clinic, 2015). Thanks to these properties, açaí is even used in the preparation of skin and beauty products (source: Acai Berries and Acai Berry Juice — What Are the Health Benefits?, WebMD, 2016).
What does açaí look and taste like?
Açaí’s berries are small and look fairly similar to blueberries. They are purple and taste quite similar to blueberries, with a curious hearty chocolate flavour note to it. They are simply DELICIOUS! Açaí is usually sold as a powder or in puree bags. For the purpose of this recipe, we will use frozen puree packs.
If you are based in the US, açaí is widely available online on Amazon: frozen açaí berries puree.
If you are based in the UK or anywhere else in Europe, it is a bit trickier to find frozen açaí puree on Amazon. After doing some research, I found out that açaí is mostly available in small independent retail online stores, in local stores such as Planet Organic, or local Brazilian groceries stores.
Keep reading to discover how to make your perfect all-natural, vegan açaí bowl!
Vegan açaí bowl recipePrint This
First, put the frozen açaí puree packs under warm water to allow its centre to unfreeze slightly. Try to break the pack in 2 parts. If it’s still too hard, carefully use a knife to cut the pack in half. This is particularly useful especially if you are using a small blender.
Second, add the frozen bananas and part of the coconut water. The açaí’s bowl consistency would need to be really similar to ice-cream or frozen yogurt. Add the coconut water a little bit at the time until you reach this consistency.
Once you have obtained a smooth, ice-cream-like consistency, you can go ahead and pour the mixture in your chosen bowl. I use coconut or bamboo bowls because they give my bowl a more “tropical” look, and feel happier even in a gloomy London day 🙂
The great thing about açaí bowls, is that you can really go crazy with the topping: açaí is the perfect base because it has a taste that really goes well with a wide range of fruits. This recipe is the traditional one, but you can also try it with mango, blueberries, peanut butter, pineapple and any of your favourite flavours!