Acai Bowl Remake
I don’t know if you’ve tried an Acai bowl yet, but if you haven’t, you should. There are claims that Acai (ah-sigh-EE) prevents and cures all kinds of ailments, but mostly I just like berries of all sorts. I bought some frozen packets of Acai at Trader Joe’s a while back on a whim. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Hint: Don’t eat those packets straight-up because they are bitter!
Doing it wrong? Yeah, I was.
I figured I was doing it wrong because who in their right mind would eat something that sour and bitter? So I decided to go try someone else’s version, preferably someone that knew what they were doing. I had to go to the paint store and there’s a Rico’s Acai Bowl food truck in the same parking lot.
They have several bowl options but we chose the Rainbow Bowl in size small. It was $9.50 and I left a $2 tip. I know that fresh fruit is expensive and also labor costs factor into the price here. To me, it was worth the price to find out how Acai is supposed to taste in order for me to make it myself at home. Now I’m sharing what I’ve learned with you 😉
The bowl is granola on the bottom, a layer of Acai, then a layer of sliced bananas, and finally the “rainbow” of raspberries, strawberries, mango, pineapple, kiwi, and blueberries.
To be honest, I was hesitant to dig in because it was almost too pretty to eat. I shared this treat with my daughter and we ate it in the front seat of the car. The secret: Acai is supposed to be sweet! I looked online and saw that most recipes include a banana and/or maple syrup blended with the frozen Acai packets. Why didn’t I think of that?
Now to make my own version!
I’ve done smoothie bowls, but I usually put the smoothie I’ve made in a bowl and then top it with granola or chia seeds. So I set out to replicate this Acai bowl experience for a fraction of the cost. Fresh mangos were $1 each, the whole pineapple was around $2, kiwis were $5 for a box of around 12 kiwis, bananas are 19 cents each (I think) at Trader Joe’s, and Acai packets are around $1 each (pack of 4 runs around $4). I skipped raspberries because they are a bit spendy here, and I can’t eat strawberries so I omitted those as well. I spent around the cost of one bowl ($12) for ingredients to make several Acai bowls.
If you want to try an Acai bowl, or you need a safe meal/snack on the go, I wouldn’t feel too bad about splurging on one of these. But I eat a smoothie bowl pretty much every day once the weather gets warm, so I need a more affordable alternative.
Add some granola and you have a filling snack perfect for a sunny day! I put my granola on top because I like more crunch.
An even more thrifty option!
If you don’t like Acai or can’t find it, you can make an endless variety of smoothie bowls! Buy whichever frozen fruits you like (preferably on sale) and blend with plant milk and plant-based yogurt. I like to fill (okay, more like stuff) my blender with frozen mango and frozen pineapple with a small container of vanilla almond or soy yogurt. I add enough almond milk to make it blend smoothly. I eat about 1.5 cups of this and store the rest in mason jars in the freezer. Then whenever I want a smoothie, all I have to do is thaw it. Optional: top with seasonal fresh fruits that are on sale, sliced bananas, or granola. My smoothies this week will be topped with chunks of the $2 pineapple I bought at Sprouts.
Tip: You don’t have to buy those “fruit and veggie” smoothie blends (unless you want to or you’re mad good at double couponing). The store-brand bags of mixed frozen fruit are a less expensive option, but they all seem to have strawberries, which I can’t eat. I look to see what else is in them and then I buy the fruits separately. I even found frozen coconut chunks at Trader Joe’s, which I’m kind of excited to try!