Even though açai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) bowls have been around for ages, I only recently got into them while holidaying in Noosa. Noosa’s main beach strip is full of amazing healthy food cafes, so after walking along the coastal track each morning we’d 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 also new to the acai party 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 a sugar syrup with guarana extract, to give an açai bowl it’s creamy texture and distinctive flavour.
What I didn’t know was 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, on holiday in Noosa 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 health benefits of açai
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?!
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 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 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, they’re 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, and use the quantities in the recipe below as a guide.
Could açai bowl toppings be the best part?!
Another bonus of keeping the sugar content low in your açai blend is that you can then go to town on the toppings! Firstly you’ve gotta have some kind of crunch, like a granola or even just toasted nuts. Some of my favourites are this Blackcurrant & Coconut Buckwheat Granola or this no bake hemp seed crumble! After that a dollop of coconut yoghurt, a sprinle of fresh berries and maybe some edible flowers if you’re feeling fancy. The possibilities are endless, so I’d love to hear your suggestions!
And of course, if you make this low sugar, super antioxidant açai bowl, come back and tell me what you think! Leave a comment below, and be sure to tag your pictures #swoonfood on Instagram or Facebook. Enjoy!
Low Sugar Super Antioxidant Açai Bowl
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)
hemp seed crumble
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.