How to make a low sugar super antioxidant açai bowl

 

Açai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) bowls have been around for ages but I only recently discovered my love for them while holidaying in Noosa. After walking along the coastal track each morning we’d head to Noosa’s main beach which is lined with amazing healthy food cafes and treat ourselves to breakfast. Almost every single eatery has an açai bowl on the menu and it was hard not to admire these pretty bowls being carried out to customers.

If you’re new to the açai bowls too, an açai bowl is essentially a frozen smoothie bowl made with raw açai berry pulp.

 

Açai berries are naturally sugar free, both most açai bowls aren’t

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, which is essentially a sugar syrup with guarana extract that gives an açai bowl it’s creamy texture and distinctive flavour.

What I didn’t know is that most of the açai bowls found in cafes or juice bars are also blended with extra 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.

 

Low Sugar Super Antioxidant Açai Bowl

 

The health benefits of açai

The reason açai bowls have become so popular in recent years 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 that it was New Zealand grown blackcurrants that have the highest level of antioxidants.

 

Which fruit truly has the highest level of antioxidants?

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. Perhaps what it should come down to is which of these fruits are in season and most readily available to you.

It seems almost every country has a fruit that can compete in the super antioxidant category, but it’s equally important to consider the fruit’s sustainability and try to eat as locally as possible to reduce your carbon footprint.

 

How to create an açai bowl without loading it with fructose

So with these things in mind I set about creating a super antioxidant, low sugar, açai bowl blend. I decided a combination of açai, blueberries, raspberries and blackcurrants would be ideal because they’re all readily available here in New Zealand and while they’re very high in antioxidants, they’re much lower in fructose than other fruits.

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 on hand or can easily source, and simply use the quantities in the recipe below as a guide.

 

Don’t forget the toppings!

Another bonus of keeping the sugar content low in your açai blend is that you can then go to town on the toppings. Most açai bowls are topped with a combination of fresh fruits, a drizzle of nut butter and usually some crunch in the form of granola or toasted nuts. Some of my favourites are this Blackcurrant & Coconut Buckwheat Granola or this no bake Hemp Seed Crumble. I also like adding a dollop of coconut yoghurt for some probiotics, a sprinkle of seeds such a hemp or ground flax, some crushed freeze-dried fruits, and if I’m feeling fancy some edible flowers.

 

Low Sugar Super Antioxidant Açai Bowl

Serves: 1
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

Topping ideas
Fresh berries or sliced fruit
Blackcurrant and Coconut Buckwheat Granola (Raw Activated)
Hemp Seed Crumble
Dried coconut
Flaxseeds
Hemp Seeds
Toasted Nuts
Sunflower/Pumpkin seeds
Chia/Basil seeds
Coconut yoghurt (unsweetened)
Nut butter (almond/cashew/peanut)
Tahini
Freeze dried raspberries/strawberries/blueberries
Edible flowers

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.

 

Low Sugar Açai Bowl with Yoghurt Swirl