Monday, January 26, 2009

Brazilian Açai in the Bowl (Açai na Tigela)

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First things first. It is pronounced a-sigh-EE, with the emphasis on the EE. Not a-SIGH-ee, as it is in a certain TV juice commercial. Well, now that we got that straight, let's talk about açai.

Açai is a berry that grows in certain palm trees in the Amazon rainforest. Considered a super food, açai is low in sugar, high in antioxidants, good fats, protein, vitamins and carbohydrates. This little fruit has it all. It is not a surprise that it became so widely popular here in the States where people continue to look for good-for-you, healthy foods.

Brazilian indigenous tribes have been using açai for centuries to cure many health problems. Over the centuries, this berry made its way from the tall trees fromthe jungles of Amazon to Brazilian's modern kitchens. What you see on this post is the açai in the bowl (açai na tigela), which is the most popular way of eating açai but Brazilians, specially from the north region use açai in various ways including with fish dishes.

Here in the U.S. we can find frozen pulp of açai in many supermarkets. Of course there are also juices, ice creams, smoothies and sorbets flavoured with açai, but if you really want to take as much advantage as possible of it's nutritional value, try using the concentrated frozen pulp. Here in Seattle I buy Sambazon frozen pulp. They come in packages of 4 individual portions of 100 grams (3.53 oz) each called smoothie packs.

Here is how it looks like:

acai frozen

In Brazil the typical açai bowl is mixed with guarana syrup which is loaded with caffeine. I normally have my bowl of açai for breakfast and so I figure my coffee (which are also Brazilian beans) have enough caffeine for me.

To make my version of the Açai in the Bowl you need:

1 individual (100 grams) package of frozen açai pulp

1 banana

a splash of soy milk


Break up the frozen açai pulp in large pieces and place it in the bowl of a blender. Add half of the banana and the soy milk. Blend it until smooth. Pour into a bowl and top it with the remaining banana, sliced and granola. This makes enough for one bowl. The recipe is easily doubled or tripled.

Useful Notes:

  • The same açai bowl can be made with different fruits like mangoes.
  • You can make a drinking smoothie by adding more liquid to the recipe.
  • Açai stains. It's colour is very strong so you will end up with a dark tongue and perhaps even lips (depends on how much you have I guess). Not recommended on a first date.
  • This is NOT a sweet treat (unless you load it with sugar, of course).



Hayley said...

I just finished a bottle of that new Tropicana açai juice - it was too good. I've been looking for different ways to incorporate this little powerhouse into my diet, and this sounds perfect. Thanks for sharing, and I love your site!

Anonymous said...

I just had my first Acai in a bowl last Thursday at a new yoghurt place in Vancouver. They were delicious! I must look out for them at my local grocers. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Anonymous said...

I live in Canada and have never heard of Acai. It sound really good. I wish I had a few to try. See, your never to old to learn something new in food :)

An Apron Straitjacket said...

This sounds wonderful!

Lori said...

Ha, ha! I correct that commercial everytime it comes on when I'm in the States. :)

We have a place here called Acaizeiro. I love it. I get the acai with a fruit salad and granola. I'm so glad it is spreading to the States. I won't have to go without it! Thanks for explaining how to make it from the pulp.

Rita said...

Hayley - try th epulp, you can make smoothies too.
Angie - you are welcome, dear! I neve saw acai in a bowl in Vancouver, that's great news.

chuck - check online, maybe you can order it.

An Apron Straijacket - (love that name...) Thanks

Lori - yes, so many people miss pronounce it. There are loads of products with Acai here in the U.S. but most of them are also loaded with sugar...That's why I like making my own bowl...

Anonymous said...

Hey Rita!! I'm brazilian and açaí is so popular here, specially now that's summertime. Despite the fact that açaí is very healthy and refreshing, watch out on the calories!!! 100g of pure açaí have around 250 calories. Eating it with fruits such as bananas, mangoes, strawberries and kiwis is awesome and if you are not watching for the calories add honey, sweet condensed milk and enjoy it!!!=D

Rita said...

Silvia - each 100 gr Sambazon acai pack has 75 calories.
Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

I was in Salvador for three weeks and enjoyed this as my breakfast everyday. I have been looking for a simple recipe. i especially love that you use soy milk!

thank you

Anonymous said...

I live near Recife Brazil. My wife and I enjoy our acai dates on which we ride our tandem bicycle to Boa Viagem (about 5 miles one way) to Point Acai (open 24 hours and always crowded) for acai na tegela. Thanks for the recipe for those stay home nights.

Anonymous said...

I live in Seatttle too and I would like to know in which store you found the concentrated frozen pulp.Thank you

Rita said...

@ Anonymous - I buy them at Metropolitan Market, but I also see them at Whole Foods. I bet that PCC would probably carry it.

Andrew said...

Acai is healthy!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Rita!!

Becky said...

Love your site... I'm an American ex-pat living in Brazil and I ran into your site trying to find this recipe to send to my grandmother who LOVES açaí and is stateside looking for new ways to eat it. I also sent her your mousse recipe too! Keep up the great work... your recipes look so delicious and I cannot wait to start trying them out!

Anonymous said...

hi! i'm brazilian and i really like the fact that our cultur is spreading in another countries. your açaí recipe is correct, but in many restaurants they put guaraná (the soda, also from a native brazilian fruit)too. i loved your blog!

teresa said...

hey there! I'm brazilian, living in vancouver! where do i buy this acai pure?? regular supermarkets??

Rita said...

@teresa: I buy it in Seattle, I am not sure where to find it in BC, but I am sur ethey muct have it. Have you tried WholeFoods?

Anonymous said...

What do you guys think of acaí em pó (powder form)? I was surprised. I tried both the frozen pulp packs from sambazon and a recipe using the acaí em pó and surprisingly the acaí em pó one tasted better!!! And. Because it's concentrated, you can make WAY more for the same price. Clearly the way to go in my view!!

Anonymous said...

Julie, I live in Michigan, I want to try this, everybody wish me luck finding something like this in Michigan!!! We are just starting weight watchers, and this could come in handy:)

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