Make Your Own Brazilian Açaí Bowl (Even in the Midwest)

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The beaches in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil are so beautiful I’m pretty sure they’re what Instagram filters were based on. But they’re not just serene watercolor smears of nature that you can sit and zen out in front of. They’re centers of commerce, where you can get almost anything (healthy fruits, umbrellas, drinks and yes, even drugs). When I think of the beach I will always think of the many vendors shouting “Açaí natural!” 

This smoothie drink is the perfect delight to sip on the beach, and I’ve been craving it so much since getting home. It’s one of those amazing tropical treats that has been oddly reinterpreted by American food brands into sugary, bland “superfood” juice.

Throw those misconceptions away when you think of real açaí! In Brazil, açaí is a fruit, but more often, it’s an ice cream. You eat it with a spoon, like a magical, healthy smoothie that will energize you and give you brain freeze. Their açaí is usually sweetened with guaraná syrup, which is actually a stimulant you’ll find in many energy drinks.

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After our trip I set out to try to recreate this treat as best I could the midwestern way. Instead of making it into a straight-up ice creamy smoothie, I decided to try making an açaí bowl. I’ve played around with this a fair amount and here is my go-to recipe. First, here’s what you’ll need.

  • Sambazon Açai Superfruit Packs

You can get these at a co-op but not at a regular grocery store. I found them at Lakewinds in South Minneapolis. I purchased both unsweetened and sweetened the first time. Unsweetened has fewer calories, but if you want the guaraná syrup blended in, try sweetened.

• Bananas

• Frozen Berries

• Optional: Pomegranate seeds, pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

• Protein powder

• Almond milk

• Granola

• Optional: Greek yogurt, guaraná syrup or agave nectar

Everything else you can basically get at Trader Joe’s. I maintain that Trader Joe’s pomegranate seeds are life-changing, and everything else is cheaper there than at most other places.

I’ll list two versions of the recipe, one for people who are watching their weight and one for people who seriously don’t care about calories and just want a healthy breakfast.

Reduced-Calorie Version

1 pack unsweetened Sambazon Açaí superfruit (run under hot water to make more blender-friendly)

-1 scoop Trader Joe’s hemp protein powder

-1/2 banana

-1/2 cup frozen berries

-6 oz almond milk

-1 tbsp. granola

-Pomegranate seeds

-Pepitas

Put the açaí, protein powder, frozen berries and almond milk in a blender. Add 1/4 the banana. Save the rest for toppings. (I usually opt for half and not a whole banana since I’m on a diet. Maybe wasteful, but bananas are not negligible in calories.) Blend these ingredients and then pour into a bowl. Top with a spoonful of granola, a pinch of pepitas and however many pomegranate seeds you want. Slice the rest of your banana on top.

This is 5 Weight Watchers points and about 280 calories. Not bad for a delicious, fruit-packed breakfast!

The “I Don’t Care About Calories” Verison

-Sweetened Sambazon Açaí Superfruit pack

-1 cup milk or almond milk

-1/4-1/2 cup Greek yogurt

-1/2-1 cup frozen berries

-1 tbsp. agave nectar or guaraná syrup

-Banana

-3 scoops protein powder

-1/4 cup granola

-2 tbsp. pomegranate seeds

-Pepitas (optional)

Put the first four ingredients in the blender. Add half the banana. Save the other half for toppings. Blend and pour into bowl. Top with remaining ingredients to your liking. Enjoy without worrying about calories, you lucky person! It’ still a very natural, energizing and healthy breakfast.