Homemade Acai Bowls

Acai Bowls | Once Upon a Recipe

Oh friends, I have waited so long to share these açai bowls with you! Sadly a series of unfortunate events sabotaged my plans.

But first, allow me to start at the beginning. I first became obsessed with açai bowls during my trip to Maui this past February. And when I say obsessed, I mean eating-an-açai-bowl-every-day obsessed. Feeling-sad-when-the-açai-bowl-was-gone obsessed. Plotting-the-next-opportunity-to-eat-an-açai-bowl obsessed. You get the idea. My friend K and I searched the island for the best açai bowl available and when searching for the best, one must be committed, you know? Açai bowls run aplenty in Maui. I didn’t taste one that I didn’t enjoy, but if you ever find yourself in Maui and in search of a truly satisfying, delicious, and totally good-for-you breakfast, snack, or even dinner, please make your way to one of the Wow Wow Lemonade locations. They offer several different varieties of açai or pitaya (dragon fruit) bowls, all of which are amazing. Apparently their lemonade is bomb as well, but I was too busy eating açai bowls to drink any lemonade.

Acai Bowls | Once Upon a Recipe

What is an açai bowl you ask? Well, an açai bowl is essentially a refreshing, naturally sweet and energizing smoothie bowl topped with fruit and granola and other delicious things. I like to think of it as the healthy cousin to the ice cream sundae. The base is generally comprised of a combination of açai purée and other frozen fruit. Then comes the granola, fresh fruit, and other toppings – and the possibilities here really are endless. Açai – pronounced “ah-sigh-ee” – berries are harvested from açai palm trees, which are native to the rainforests of South America. Açai berries are considered a superfood, and are full of antioxidants, fiber, and heart-healthy fats. They help to promote cardiovascular, digestive, and immune health. Boom! In North America, you can typically find açai berries in the form of puréed smoothie packs in the frozen section of organic grocery stores and health food stores. My favourite frozen açai smoothie packs, and the ones most available to me, are made by Sambazon, and they seem to be widely available throughout Canada and the US. Here in Edmonton, they can be found at places like Planet Organic and Earth’s General Store. In the US, you can find them at Whole Foods. Açai juice and freeze-dried açai powder are other options, although I have not tried them myself. Açai bowls are not a cheap treat – most of the bowls we enjoyed in Maui were around the $12 mark – but you can make them at home for a fraction of the cost.

Acai Bowls | Once Upon a Recipe

When we returned from Maui, K and I set out to perfect our recipe for homemade açai bowls. We have yet to find a spot in Edmonton that sells these bowls of goodness (if you know otherwise, pleeeeeeease let me know asap) so there was definitely some urgency to figuring out how to make them at home. The cravings were intense! After several trials, we figured out our perfect combination. One evening in March, we crafted our perfect bowl and I snapped some photos of the process. A few weeks later, my house was broken into and my laptop and camera (and all of my photos), among other things, were taken. PS. This is an ideal time to recommend routinely backing up your photos on an external hard drive, or via something like iCloud. Idiot me had not done a thorough back-up of my files for longer than I wish to admit, and many of my photos were lost to those punk criminals. It took me several months to replace my laptop and camera, and by that time, my previously mentioned blogging rut had set in.

But alas, K and I had another açai bowl night last week and now I can finally share this recipe with you. Hooray!

Acai Bowls | Once Upon a Recipe

The possibilities for personalizing your açai bowl are limitless. You can change up the frozen fruit in the smoothie base, the fresh fruit you use, as well as the toppings. Next time I might try adding some greens to the smoothie base, like kale or spinach. A high speed blender works best for creating a nice thick smoothie base (aim for a sorbet consistency), but if you don’t have a blender, I’m sure that a food processor would give you similar results. I added maca powder for an extra superfood boost, but it certainly is not essential to this recipe. Maca is also expensive and can be difficult to find, so don’t sweat it if you can’t get your hands on it. For the granola, use your favourite stuff – whether it be store-bought or homemade. Looking for an excellent granola recipe? Might I suggest coconut oil granola, cherry hazelnut granola, or an old favourite, appropriately called favourite granola?

Acai Bowls | Once Upon a Recipe   Acai Bowls | Once Upon a Recipe

Acai Bowls | Once Upon a Recipe    DSC_0470

Alright, enough talk. Let’s make some açai bowls!

Homemade Açai Bowls

Makes 1 small bowl. Double the ingredients for a large bowl or for 2 servings. Exercise your creativity here, and have fun with different fruit and topping combinations!

1-100g pure unsweetened açai berry superfruit pack
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 cup frozen berries
1/4 cup almond milk
1 tsp. maca powder (optional)

1/2 cup granola, divided
Sliced strawberries, bananas, and blueberries
1 tsp. shredded coconut
1 tsp. hemp hearts
1 tsp. cacao nibs
A drizzle of honey

While you are assembling your smoothie base, place the serving bowl in the freezer. This will help to keep your smoothie thick and cold, and will prevent it from melting too quickly. In a high-speed blender, combine the açai purée, frozen banana, frozen berries, almond milk, and maca powder. Blend until smooth.

Remove your bowl from the freezer. Sprinkle some of the granola on the bottom of the bowl. Spread your smoothie base into an even layer in the bowl. Top with the remainder of the granola, fresh fruit, and your desired toppings. Enjoy immediately!

Acai Bowls | Once Upon a Recipe

How Sweet! | Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Chips

Honey and I hosted a Christmas party last night! We had a wonderful time with great friends and family – it was a fabulous way to kick off the holiday season! We also spent the 48 hours prior to the party in preparation mode – food and drink planning, grocery shopping, housecleaning…we ended up with about 8 appetizer and dessert dishes. I photographed all of the dishes as I was making them, but once the party got going and I started putting the food out, I was too preoccupied with visiting and of course, eating, to take photos of the finished products! I am kicking myself now, because there were a couple of other recipes that I really wanted to share with you! Oh well, perhaps they will be recreated over the course of the holidays and I will be better prepared to capture them with my camera!

This fruit salsa with cinnamon chips is another family favorite that has made an appearance at many parties and get-togethers. It can be an appetizer, it can be a dessert, and it is so deliciously refreshing. It can take a little bit of time, dicing up the fruit and baking the cinnamon chips, but your efforts will be rewarded once you sink your teeth into the sweet, crispy chips, and the fresh, succulent salsa. The colors and flavors make it very season-appropriate, although it is a wonderful summer treat as well.

Try making this fruit salsa for a holiday party that you’re hosting or attending, and I guarantee your guests will not be disappointed. Stay tuned for Christmas cookie recipes, coming up this week! Happy eating!

Fruit Salsa with Cinnamon Chips

2 apples, peeled, cored, and diced (Granny Smiths work well)

2 kiwis, peeled and diced

1 pint of raspberries, chopped

1 pound of strawberries, diced

2 TBSP. white sugar

1 TBSP. brown sugar

3 TBSP. fruit jam, either strawberry or raspberry

Fresh mint (optional)

10 10-inch whole wheat tortillas

1/2 cup butter, melted

2 cups of cinnamon sugar (2 cups of white sugar mixed with 2 TBSP. of cinnamon)

For the salsa: In a large bowl, combine the apples, kiwis, raspberries, strawberries, sugars, and jam. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (I usually make the salsa the night before and chill it overnight).

For the cinnamon chips: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Brush both sides of each tortilla with butter, and generously sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Cut each tortilla into 8 wedges and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the tortillas are lightly browned. Cool for at least 15 minutes before eating. Store the chips in an airtight container if you will not be eating them right away.

Serve the salsa and cinnamon chips together just like you would serve savory salsa and tortilla chips. Garnish the salsa with fresh mint, if desired. Enjoy!

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