I'm not a huge fan of overly Instagrammable foods -- I tend to prefer aggressively beige fare -- but even I have to admit that there's something extremely enticing about those colourful acai smoothie bowls that seem to be so popular with the clean-eating set.
Photos by Claire Lower.
Though acai berries are widely hyped for their "superfood" abilities, I'd rather focus on how tasty they can be when whirred together with other plant parts for a refreshing breakfast that's surprisingly easy to throw together.
Step 1: Get Some Acai
Very convenient (and purple)
The tart, vaguely-cocoa-tasting fruit can be found in juice, powder and puree forms, but I've found the puree to be the most easy to work with. Coles sells packs of the stuff.
Step 2: Bulk It up With Other Frozen Fruits (and Vegetables)
Sambazon recommends adding a 1/4 cup of water, juice or nut milk to the pack for a perfectly spoonable smoothie, but I find that to be a little thin. To add bulk and flavour to your purple puree, consider one (or many) of the following:
- Frozen fruit: I would aim for sweeter fruits, as the acai is already kind of tart on its own. Frozen bananas, pineapple, peaches and blueberries are my favourites.
- Greens and other healthy things: If you'd rather drink than eat your kale, acai masks the flavour of the sturdy green fairly effectively. This is also a good place to sneak in some chia, protein powder, or any other healthy add-ins you have a hankering for.
- Nut butters: Peanut, almond, cashew or any other nut butter you desire can add a bit of sweetness, protein and fat.
Just chuck everything into a blender (a stick blender works well too), blend it up, and pour it into your favourite bowl.
Step 3: Top It
Yes, those are the sprinkles. Fight me.
Here is where you get to have the most fun. Though the clean eaters of the world would most likely clutch their pearls in horror, I treat this step of my bowl building as chance to treat myself, because I am of the opinion that we all deserve treats simply for being alive and aware. For the best bowl possible, pick at least one thing from each category.
- Fresh fruit: Get whatever is in season. I really dig those sweet Hood strawberries, but any berry is a pretty good bet. Bananas are always a must, and I also enjoy sliced peaches and fresh pineapple.
- Granola: You can get the hippy-dippy kind in bulk at your local health food store, or you can get some from Woolworths. Actually, you don't even have to use granola, as any cereal will do. Screw it, throw some Fruit Loops in there if you feel like it. (If a couple of tablespoons of sugary cereal can get you to eat a bowl of antioxidant-packed fruit, then that cereal is doing a great job.)
- Dried fruit and nuts: Raw cashews are my absolute jam here, but almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, pepitas and sunflower seeds all have their place in the acai bowl. Get some dried coconut in there for some fun, and chuck in some dried fruit if you like a little chew.
- Something Sweet: Why not start your day with sprinkles? Or dark chocolate chips? Or candied pecans? You did a great job getting up this morning, and you should be rewarded. Not feeling the sugar? Sprinkle on some cinnamon, which still feels special.
Step 4: Drizzle It Up
Now for the final touch: A little swirl of a complementary flavour to really round everything out.
- Peanut butter: When paired with a berry-packed bowl, this is particularly reminiscent of that childhood classic.
- Honey or agave: Both are good options.
- Chocolate syrup: Don't, like, drown it, but a bit of chocolate will probably put you in a good mood. (Obviously, if you've already topped your bowl with sprinkles and Fruit Loops, and left out the fresh fruit, you might want to just have a bowl of ice cream, but try to get at least one ridiculous sweet thing in there.)
- Fruit preserves: A good jam (or marmalade) is a wonderful thing, especially when swirled in to a bowl of frozen, fruity, spoonable smoothie.
Really want to streamline the bowl-building process? Pre-batch your frozen fruits and toppings for the week in sandwich bags, and pop 'em in the fridge or freezer until you're ready to use them. Even if you do top yours with rainbow sprinkles and chocolate syrup, you'll still feel a sense of smug superiority that comes along with making your own breakfast.