Acai bowls and smoothie bowls have been popping up on cafe brunch menus over the years. And they have become a popular choice for the health-conscious diner.
So, what exactly is acai? What makes an acai bowl and smoothie bowl different? And what are the health benefits?
We are going to explore all of these and show you how to make a delicious and nutritious smoothie bowl with and without acai.
Acai vs smoothie bowls
Acai bowls and smoothie bowls are essentially the same concept. It’s frozen fruit blended with plant-based milk, yoghurt or coconut cream. And these ingredients are used to create a thick and delicious smoothie that can be eaten with a spoon.
Smoothie bowls can be made using any fruit of your choice. Meanwhile, an acai bowl uses frozen acai pulp as the main ingredient in the smoothie.
Both options are then adorned with your favourite toppings. These can include sliced fruit, nuts, seeds and coconut, just to name a few.
Acai is classified as a superfood. It is a form of wild berry that grows on the edge of the Amazon River. Although, technically it is not a berry as it contains a large seed. And it is considered a member of the drupe family.
A drupe is a fleshy fruit with thin skin and a central stone containing the seed, e.g. a plum, cherry, almond, or olive.
The fruit looks similar to a blueberry; however, they naturally contain no sugar and are not sweet like other berries. The centre seed is quite large with the skin and pulp making up only 10% of the entire fruit.
You won't find a fresh acai berry outside of the Amazon though. As they are very delicate and start to decompose the moment they are harvested.
The fruit is taken from the tree, stripped of its skin and seed, and the pulp is pureed with water and frozen in portions.
The taste of an acai berry has been described as a cross between a blackberry and dark unsweetened chocolate. Delicious!
The benefits of acai are almost endless
Acais are rich in the fat-soluble nutrient Vitamin A. Which is essential in supporting cell growth, immune system function and maintaining the health of your vision.
Vitamin A also works to maintain the surface tissue of your skin and inner organs.
Acai berries are also a great source of Calcium, especially for those who practice a vegan or plant-based lifestyle. They are a great calcium boost to maintain healthy bones, heart muscle and support your nervous system.
Furthermore, acai berries are high in Fibre to keep you fuller for longer. They help maintain your blood sugar levels and keep your bowel regular.
Like many berries, acai is also rich in antioxidants that will protect your immune system and cells from damage.
Are Acai Bowls Healthy?
You can make even the healthiest recipe unhealthy and acai bowls are no different. Being naturally sugar-free, what you add to acai will determine how healthy it remains.
If you are ordering an acai bowl at a café, you might want to check that they are using unsweetened acai and have not added in any extra sugars.
If you top your bowl with healthy fats and protein, you can create a well-balanced and nutritious breakfast or brunch.
How to make a thick and creamy acai base
Here are our top 5 tips to help make the difference between a creamy, smoothie bowl and a watery slush.
TIP 1: Use creamy fruits. Fruits such as bananas, mangoes and peaches help create a thick and creamy texture. Avoid watery fruits such as melons, grapes, kiwi and most berries. You can save these for your toppings.
TIP 2: Add your favourite protein powder. This is the perfect addition. It will help absorb some of the water and will help retain the texture. 1 or ½ a scoop of hemp protein powder will also give you a nice sneaky protein boost, to keep you fuller and boost your energy.
TIP 3: Add your liquid to the blender first and put the fruit on top. This has made all the difference, no matter which blender you use. And less is more! Add a little bit to the initial mix and add more if you need it at the end.
TIP 4: Use frozen fruit straight from the freezer. The fruit will begin to defrost the moment you remove it from the freezer. And the warmth of your blender will speed up the process. The key to a thick and creamy texture is to keep the fruit frozen for as long as possible.
TIP 5: Add a scoop of coconut yoghurt. This is a great way to maintain the thickness of the smoothie and add a creamy texture to it.
Now you know the basics of acai and smoothie bowls, it is time for the fun part! And this is where you get to add all the yummy treats to complete your bowl.
Your soft smoothie base can be perfectly complemented with a little bit of crunch such as:
These are one of our favourite toppings. And we believe the acai superfood needs another superfood sidekick!
Hemp seeds provide a nice little crunch that won't overpower your smoothie bases and will complement it with the mild nutty flavour and an added protein and nutrient boost.
These are a popular addition and almost any nut can be used. If you are using a chunkier nut such as almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts etc. We suggest you roughly chop them so they won’t overcrowd your spoon.
Seeds, including chia or pepitas are a great choice. They add some extra fibre to your nutrient dense bowl.
These have a lovely crunchy texture like a coffee bean. They can also add a dark chocolate flavour that will complement the fruit and nuts in your bowl.
If you love crunch, Toasted Coconut can also be used or even your favourite granola, just be careful with the refined sugar content in your granola.
If you want some sweetness to your bowl without using refined sugar, adding some natural sweetness to your toppings is a great way. A few options include:
- Berries. Strawberries, blueberries or raspberries are a great acai bowl topper. And they will create a burst of sweetness with every mouthful.
- Sliced fruits. Banana, kiwi fruit, peaches etc. will not only add beautiful colours to your bowl, but they will also boost the natural sweetness.
- Hemp Honey. This is a natural sweetener. It contains raw, organic honey and hemp seeds that is perfect to drizzle on your bowl as the last step.
Creating the perfect smoothie bowl is simple. As you can see, the options are endless, and you can use any fruit and toppings you desire.
Here is one of our favourite recipes with our favourite fruit.
Mango and Banana Smoothie Bowl Recipe:
- 1 cup Frozen Mango Chunks
- 2 Frozen Bananas
- ¼ Cup of your favourite plant-based milk
- ¼ cup coconut yoghurt
- Hemp Honey
- Sliced Dragon Fruit
- Sliced Kiwi Fruit
- Sliced Banana
- Sliced Mango
- Hemp Seeds (toasted)
- Chia Seeds
STEP 1: Pour your chosen plant-based milk, coconut yoghurt and a drizzle of hemp honey into the blender.
STEP 2: Add the frozen mango and frozen banana.
STEP 3: Blend until all the ingredients are combined and stop when there are no visible chunks of fruit. You want it to be smooth, but don’t over blend it.
STEP 4: Pour your smoothie mixture in a bowl and top with your favourite toppings. We chose sliced dragon fruit, kiwi fruit, banana and mango. We then sprinkle with chia seeds, pistachios and toasted hemp seeds for a little crunch.
Acai bowls and smoothie bowls are a great way to start the day. They’re a nutrient-rich breakfast that is easy to make and will keep your energy levels up all day.
People search Google every day for acai bowl places near them. And you can’t get closer than your own kitchen! We hope this recipe encourages you to create your own smoothie bowls at home.
We would love to see your bowl creations! So follow us on Instagram and tag us in your posts.
AT Hemp grows, harvests and produces 100% organic hemp and hemp products, grown in Tasmania and delivered Australia-wide.
As well as hemp food products, we also stock a range of hemp skincare, body and hair care products and hemp balms and oils. or contact us if you have any questions.