Acai Bowls on Demand
As a person who strives constantly for organization and efficiency, having healthy, delicious food on demand is a constant quest. Oh yes, and for an even taller order… it has to be child/teen-pleasing, require no extra shopping, be ready in a short time, and be reasonably healthy. This recipe more than fits the bill. Whether you are a parent looking to feed a group of kids or teens, a young adult in a simple apartment kitchen, or an experienced chef looking for something different, this recipe is for you.
I stumbled onto these açaí bowls accidentally when my daughter brought home friends at the last minute. One had allergies, another was vegan, my own daughter is very finicky: what could I possibly make to satisfy all of these disparate dietary preferences and still keep my reputation (being a chef/cooking teacher creates a lot of pressure sometimes) intact? And then I remembered the acai that I had stashed in the freezer, and went to work.
The resulting bowls were such a hit (one girl even asked for the recipe) that I thought they would be the ideal first share of the new school year. Why are they so appealing?
The key elements:
1. “Healthyish” (I love this Bon-Appetit-coined phrase)
2. Attractive (i.e. Insta-worthy)
3. Easy to prepare (Techniques required: blender 101 and slicing fruit)
4. Adaptable to what you have on hand and individual dietary preferences (a requirement for today’s lifestyle!)
5. Built-in choice (ditto #4)
6. Something that can be made at home (my mission statement always!)
What is Açaí anyway?
Acai are a berry-like fruit native to South America. Besides being super-trendy, they are high in anti-oxidants like other, more familiar, berries. Many claims are often made as to their health benefits, but very few (improved cardiac health and memory) have actually been proven in scientific studies. That being said, they are a nice alternative to junk food and can be made additionally healthy by what you serve with them.
Where/how do I buy it?
My favorite way to purchase acai is from the frozen food case in individual packages. These single servings are perfect to keep on hand. Just remove from the freezer ten minutes before you are ready to prepare. I like Sambazon which is both organic and fair-trade, and is sold at Whole Foods, Stop & Shop, Balducci’s, and Costco.
Secrets to Success:
Acai is much easier to remove from the package while still frozen.
To avoid mess, put it directly into the blender with the remaining ingredients to thaw for 15-20 minutes before blending.
When my bananas are becoming overripe, I peel them and keep them on hand in the freezer. If using a frozen banana for this recipe, allow it to thaw with the acai. Ditto frozen strawberries.
My daughter prefers the texture if you use a fresh banana. She says it is creamier. Hard to beat the ease of having perfect bananas in the freezer though. You decide.
Acai Bowls on Demand
1 packet frozen açaí thawed for 15-20 minutes
1/2 ripe banana
6 frozen strawberries, thawed for 15-20 minutes
1/4 cup Vanilla almond milk (unsweetened) or milk of your choice
1-2 tablespoons honey plus additional for drizzling, optional
fresh fruit such as sliced banana, blueberries , nectarine, strawberries, mango, optional
flaked coconut, optional
almond, peanut or soy butter; optional
chocolate chips, optional
Purée all ingredients in the blender until smooth. Taste, add a little of the honey, taste againand add more if necessary. Transfer into a bowl and top with an assortment of toppings. Serve immediately.
Serves 1, generously.