When I visit Hawaii, I always revel in the chance to have an Acai Bowl, an ice cream like treat made from the acai berry, a unique sweet and chocolate tasting fruit native to the rainforests of South America, and covered in fresh fruit toppings, raw nuts, or granola. Pure heaven. Back on the East coast, withdrawal set in after my last trip to the islands, and I searched and finally found acai puree in the freezer section of Whole Foods to attempt making my own bowl at home. Before I could give it a try, I became pregnant with my daughter, and discovered there is too little known about the superfood berry to be certain of its safety for breastfeeding or nursing mothers. Fast forward- 3 years of withdrawal- I'm still nursing my 2 and a half year old daughter, and I still have the pack of frozen acai in the freezer. I thought maybe I'd use it up and make a bowl for just my husband- a way to stop a 3 year long routine of opening the freezer, noticing acai buried in there and becoming overwhelemed with depression. Was there an expiration date?? I searched the label, and... nope- it hadn't expired!- but the bigger shock was- BOWL ME OVER this particular package says in tiny print that it contains soy! I'm so super allergic to soy, which you can read about here- I can't believe I mistakenly bought this brand and considered using it.
Then a miracle happened. I discovered the smoothie bowl trend just a few months ago, a near match to an Acai bowl, but without the Acai, and totally doable to make on my own. I've never been happier! If you're new to smoothie bowls, get ready to jump in and never look back. A huge trend on Instagram, smoothie bowls make for pretty pictures because of the endless color combos, but they're also healthy and soooooo yummy and fun to eat. Instead of inhaling your smoothie through a straw in ten seconds, you get to party bite after bite- spoonful after spoonful of cold thick creamy goodness and crunchy toppings galore. The spoon and the chewing and the need for a napkin makes this feel like a real meal- and if you plan your ingredients right, it can be a meal replacement rather than a midnight snack!
To remove the mystery- all you gotta do is make a smoothie- but a thick one, pour in a bowl and throw some toppings aboard, then your ready to set sail. You can do it!
Basic rules for smoothie bowls:
1) For thickness, use only frozen fruits.
2) Include a frozen banana to achieve the creaminess of ice cream.
3) Do not use ice. Ice will weaken the flavor punch, and you don't need it if you're following rules #1 and #2 above.
4) Use the teeniest tiniest amount of liquid necessary in order to facilitate blending. Too much liquid will make you lose the creamy ice cream consistency.
4) Include 2 toppings minimum. No upward limit- set yourself free! Possible toppings include: fresh chopped or sliced fruit of any kind, chia seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, mulberries, goji berries, cacao nibs, unsweetened coconut flakes, granola, oats, nut butter, chopped nuts of any kind...
5) Include at least one crunchy topping to give your bowl some texture, see suggestions above.
6) Include some greens or veggies if you're feeling responsible.
1 frozen banana
5 frozen strawberries
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
add water to blend as needed (you can always add water as needed, but you cannot remove it! Go easy at first adding a little water at a time so you can achieve a nice thick consistency)
Blend all of the ingredients above until you’ve achieved a thick smoothie consistency. Pour into a bowl and add toppings of your choice.
1 Tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
1 Tbsp chopped brazil nuts