Ever had an açaí bowl? I have. Tons of them, actually. They actually top my list of ‘Things I Miss About Hawaii.’ Weather, beaches, food. In that order. But let’s back up for a second.
Back in college, I got the grand idea to vacation in Hawaii for a week. I pinched every penny to minimize costs and convinced a friend to come with me. Instead of splitting hotel costs, we made plans to crash on the futon of I guy I knew as Dragonzakura, the main assist in my raiding guild in WoW. (Yeah, that’s a whole other story). Anywho, the week was amazing! I left with some amazing friends, fond memories, and a strong conviction to come back as soon as possible.
The following spring, I transferred to University of Hawaii for a semester and a summer, came home to finished my last year in college then made plans to go back for a friend’s wedding. I ended up deciding I wouldn’t be using the return flight home and moved out there again, this time for a little under two years. It was a grand adventure to say the least.
But back to the food. There is so much amazing food in Hawaii. You could go for a month, eat each meal at a different restaurant still not get enough. Kalua pig, malasadas, udon, curry, ramen (no, your little cup-o-noodles is NOT the same thing), spam musubi, bubble tea, the freshest pineapple you’ll ever taste. I could go on for ages. Suffice it to say, it’s a good thing I did a lot of hiking and rode my bike everywhere or I’d have resembled a beached whale.
One of the stand out foods that has been surprisingly hard to find on the mainland is an acai bowl. It’s not all that complicated, but for some reason they aren’t much of a ‘thing’ here. It took me over a year to find the one place in the area that had them on the menu. If you’ve never had an acai bowl, the easiest way to explain it is a really thick smoothie with fresh fruit and granola on top. I’ve seen plenty of variations, but while living in Hawaii my favorites were from Blue Hawaii Lifestyle and Health Bar at Diamond Head. Rumor was you could often spot Paul Walker at Health Bar, but I never had the pleasure.
Of all the foods I enjoyed on the island, this was one of the easiest to recreate. I’ve tried a few different variations, but the main ingredients mostly remain the same. The smoothie base I like to use is a blend of acai, strawberries, blueberries, banana and either almond milk or greek yogurt. I end up with a thicker consistency with Greek yogurt, but almond milk is delicious and a great dairy-free option. Throw these in the blender and mixed until smooth, then pour it in a bowl, top with your fresh fruit, granola and honey and enjoy. Bee pollen also makes a fun addition to the toppings as well.
As I said, there are a lot of variations on this, and I’m not even sure I’ve made it the same way twice. Here is the break down of ingredients I used in this bowl and some tips and tricks for the optimal acai bowl experience.
Acai Bowl Recipe
Add smoothie ingredients to your blender with softest ingredients at the bottom (this seems to be easier on the blender and mixes faster). Blend until smooth. Pour into a bowl. Add toppings. Enjoy!
- Slice and freeze your bananas ahead of time for a nice, smooth base. If you forget to freeze your banana ahead of time, place your banana slices on a piece of parchment paper on a metal cookie sheet then place them in the freezer while you prep you other ingredients.
- Freeze your bowl. Place your bowl in the freezer while you prep ingredients and make your acai bowl. This will keep the smoothie blend from melting on contact.
- For a lower calorie alternative, skip the granola and use half the acai. You’ll miss the granola since it’s so freaking delicious, but this makes a huge dent in the calories. You won’t notice much of a flavor difference with less acai.
- Use a meat tenderizer or hammer to break up the acai while it’s still in the sealed packet before adding it to the blender. It blends much faster this way and is less prone to make a mess.
- Try different toppings! Add fresh banana slices on top. Or bee pollen. Try different types of honey. Try adding mango, kiwi, or lime. Just get creative and find your own perfect blend.
It’s not as pretty when it’s all mixed in, but it’s so delicious you won’t care.