Even though açai (pronounced Ah-sigh-ee) bowls have been around for ages, I only recently got into them while on a holiday in Noosa. For anyone not in the know, an açai bowl is essentially a frozen smoothie bowl made with raw açai berry pulp.
Açaí is an ancient berry that grows along the banks of the Amazon river on açai palms. Açai berries naturally contain very little sugars (if any), and because of this the raw açai pulp is traditionally blended with guarana syrup (a sugar syrup with guarana extract) to give it it’s creamy texture and distinctive flavour.
What I didn’t know know was that most of the açai bowls found in cafes or juice bars are also blended with sweeteners such as apple juice and banana in order to create a more appetising blend. So there I was thinking I was having a super healthy smoothie bowl for breakfast, only to realise it was loaded with fructose! No wonder they tasted so damn good.
The reason açai bowls have become so popular is because açai berries are widely believed to contain more antioxidants than any other fruit in the world. Regular servings of antioxidant rich fruits is thought to slow down the ageing process, lower cholesterol levels, improve circulation and help prevent disease.
However, there seem to be a lot of differing opinions about which fruit does in fact have the highest level of antioxidants. Many claim wild blueberries in fact have the highest, pomegranate and goji are also in the running, and recently I read an article saying it was in fact New Zealand grown blackcurrants that have the highest level of antioxidants! So how do we know who to believe and which fruit is the best?!
In lieu of an extensive worldwide, super fruit antioxidant study, I think it’s fair to conclude that ALL these fruit contain amazingly beneficial levels of antioxidants, and perhaps what it should come down to is which are readily available to you. It seems almost every country has a fruit that can complete in the super antioxidant category, but it’s equally important to consider the fruit’s sustainability and to try and eat as locally as possible to reduce your carbon footprint.
So with that in mind, I set about creating my own super antioxidant, low sugar, açai bowl blend. I decided to use a combination of açai, blueberries, raspberries and blackcurrants because they’re all readily available here in New Zealand, very high in antioxidants and very low in fructose. Instead of any syrup or sweeteners I added a little lemon juice and passionfruit pulp as these combine so well with the berries and add an extra flavour dimension. Of course feel free to mix up the berry combination to whatever you have to hand or can easily source, using the quantities in the recipe below as a guide.
Another bonus of keeping the sugars low in the açai blend is you can then go to town on the toppings if you so wish! Some of my favourites are this Blackcurrant & Coconut Buckwheat Granola, coconut yoghurt, fresh berries and edible flowers.
I hope you enjoy this low sugar, super antioxidant açai bowl recipe, and if you make it come back and tell me your favourite combo! Enjoy.
Super Antioxidant Açai Bowl (Low Sugar)
Prep time: 5 minutes
1/4 cup frozen raspberries
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 cup frozen blackcurrants
1 packet unsweetened frozen açai
1/4 cup fresh or frozen passionfruit
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp water to blend
Blackcurrant and Coconut Buckwheat Granola (Raw Activated)
Freeze dried raspberries/strawberries/blueberries
Place all the smoothie ingredients into a high speed blender and blend until smooth.
Take care not to over blend as you want the smoothie to remain relatively frozen so that it’s thick and spoonable.
Pour the smoothie into a bowl and sprinkle with your favourite toppings.
Eat immediately with a spoon.
Tip: to ensure you have a lovely thick smoothie bowl try freezing all the ingredients. E.g. freeze lemon juice and passionfruit pulp into ice cube trays and buy ready frozen açai and berries.