Easy Acai Smoothie Recipe for the Best Homemade Acai Bowl
My eating disorder robbed me of many things: time, experiences, relationships, the ability to enjoy the simple pleasures in life, and the joy that comes with eating (among many things).
At its worst, I would obsess over food and spend most of my time pouring over recipes of things I wanted so badly to eat but wouldn’t allow myself to. This would go on for so long until I would binge on the foods that I deprived myself from eating.
While it has grieved me to have missed out on so much of my life and memories because of my eating disorder, I am thankful for my recovery and the freedom I have found to reclaim my life.
One of the best parts of recovery has been rediscovering the joy that can be part of eating. For so long, my food choices were dictated by the rigid food rules to which I was imprisoned.
Part of my healing was rediscovering what I liked to eat without any food rules. This was scary at first but SO freeing to rediscover food in a neutral lens - not one based on what I thought I should eat, but tuning into my body as the best judge of what I needed and wanted.
One such food that I had always wanted to eat but never allowed myself to have when engrossed in my eating disorder was an Acai Bowl. I know it might seem silly, but my eating disorder had every excuse imaginable about WHY i couldn’t eat it: too much sugar, too much carbs, too much fat, yadda yadda yadda.
I would watch so many of my college friends and roommates pick up acai bowls from the local surf shops and felt so frustrated that I was missing out.
Years later, as I progressed in my eating disorder recovery, I revisited the acai bowl. It was a “fear food” that I wanted to make peace with, once and for all. It was something I wanted to be able to have without engaging in any of my eating disorder behaviors. And so I did.
Let me tell you - it was one of those life-changing moments, where I felt I was reclaiming those parts of my life that had been lost to my eating disorder and rediscovering the joy that should be part of eating. And no, it’s not because acai bowls are something magical.
More so, it was because I was finally giving myself permission to enjoy ALL foods by allowing myself to eat something I had deprived myself of for so long
The truth is, acai smoothie bowls make a balanced and nutritious snack, offering a wholesome and satisfying combination of carbohydrates, fiber, fats, and protein. Once I had one and was able to enjoy an acai bowl without the hindrance of my eating disorder, it quickly became one of my favorite snacks.
From that point, I made it my mission to figure out how to make my own homemade acai smoothie bowls for half the cost so that I could enjoy them whenever I wanted.
While it’s taken some trial and error, I learned how to make my own acai smoothie recipe. To this day, it’s one of my favorite snacks and something I now love to share with my own kids. An acai smoothie bowl is one of their top requested snacks, especially during the summer, as it’s such a cool, refreshing treat.
I also love the versatility of this homemade acai bowl recipe, as you can literally top it with any of your favorite ingredients to make a delicious, wholesome snack. It’s easy to make and can feed a crowd.
You can make the acai smoothie as your base and set out toppings for your family and friends to create their own acai bowl, including fresh or frozen fruit, chia seeds, granola, coconut, chocolate chips and more.
Trust me - you will be the house that everyone wants to come to if you start serving these as the after school snacks.
Before we dive into this recipe, let’s talk more about acai.
What is acai and how can you use it to make an acai smoothie bowl?
What is Acai?
Truthfully, before I stumbled on that surf shack by my college campus, I literally had never heard of acai before. That’s kind of embarrassing to admit as a nutrition major in college, but hey - it’s not as common as blueberries and raspberries, right?
Acai (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) berries are a dark purple fruit that are similar in shape to blueberries. Acai berries grow on the acai palm trees, which are native to South America and the Caribbean.
Acai berries can be found in many different forms at local grocery stores, including:
Raw acai berries
Freeze dried acai
Acai powder smoothie
Acai concentrate in pill form
Acai packets, which typically contain acai puree with sweetener. This is most commonly used as a base for an acai smoothie bowl recipe
What Does Acai Taste Like?
Acai berries have a unique and distinct taste that is similar to blackberries but with a slight bittersweetness that is similar to dark chocolate. Berries and chocolate? Yes, please!
Can you see why an acai berry smoothie would be both delicious and refreshing? It definitely takes your average berry smoothie up a couple notches.
Acai Berry Benefits
Acai berries have often been marketed as a trendy “superfood”, with manufacturer’s claiming a lot magical powers associated with this fruit. For a time, there was so much hype around acai, with statements going as far to say that diseases could be cured or prevented by this fruit. But is there any validity to these claims?
The reality is that acai berries are just fruits with similar nutrient profiles to other berries. They are naturally high in fiber and rich in certain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
What are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are naturally occurring compounds in food that can help your protect your body from the damage caused by free radicals and oxidative stress. In other words, antioxidants can help keep your body healthy by serving as a protective force for your cells, which in turn can potentially decrease the risk of certain diseases.
However, acai berries in themselves have not been proven to prevent or cure any diseases. Acai berries are a nutrient dense food source that can provide your body with a host of beneficial nutrients, including:
Trace minerals, such as iron, zinc, magnesium, and phosphorous
Antioxidants, including anthocyanins, which can serve as a protective factor for cells in the body
Natural plant sterols and fibers that can naturally help lower LDL cholesterol
Essential fatty acids, including omega-3’s and monounsaturated oleic acid, which can naturally support brain and heart health
While there is certainly no one magical food that can provide our bodies with everything we need, acai can offer your body many helpful nutrients when included as part of a balanced diet.
Some of the most common ways to eat acai include juices, powders, and purees. The acai puree is traditionally used to create the smoothie-like base for an acai bowl.
What is an Acai Bowl?
Acai bowls have become popular over recent years, as they are a delicious way to incorporate this nutrient dense food into your everyday life.
Essentially, an acai bowl is made with an acai smoothie-like base with an ice-cream like consistency, and it’s topped with a variety of different ingredients. You can enjoy it with a spoon, and clean-up is a breeze since everything fits in one bowl.
The fun part about acai bowls is that you can literally customize it to your liking with your favorite toppings. There are so many different topping options that pair well with the acai smoothie base - you just can’t go wrong.
Some favorite acai toppings options include:
Granola (like this easy, homemade Vanilla Almond Granola)
Chia, hemp seeds, or flaxseeds
Sunflower seeds or pepitas
Fresh fruit, such as sliced bananas or berries
Chocolate chips or cocoa nibs
If you’re feeding a crowd, simply put out your toppings options on a table, and let your guests (or kids!) assemble and create their own acai bowls with their toppings of choice!
What are the Health Benefits of an Acai Bowl?
One of the reasons I love acai bowls is that it combines the major macronutrients in one tasty snack, which can leave you deliciously satisfied and nourished after eating.
An acai bowl includes fiber, carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein, along with a vitamin and mineral boost from the acai fruit, which all combine to help feed your body.
Whether you are making this as a snack for yourself or for your family, this is something fun, delicious, and nutritious that you can all enjoy eating.
How to Make Acai Bowls
In just a few easy steps and with a handful of ingredients, you can quickly put together homemade acai bowls for you and your family.
To start, you will need to make the acai smoothie, which will be the base of your acai smoothie bowl. If you want to skip out on the acai bowl, you can always just whip up this delicious and thick acai smoothie to enjoy anytime of day.
These are especially refreshing in the summer or after a workout to refuel.
How to Make Acai Smoothie
To make homemade acai bowls, this is your first step. To make your acai smoothie base for your bowl, here’s what you need:
1 Unsweetened Acai Puree Packet (Found at your local stores, like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or Sprouts. You can also substitute with 1 Tbsp Acai Powder )
1 cup frozen mixed berries
1 medium banana (frozen bananas work great in this smoothie recipe)
1 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
1 Tbsp nut butter (peanut butter or almond butter)
½ - ¾ cup vanilla almond milk or regular milk (start with ½ cup of liquid to keep a thick consistency with your smoothie. If you want to use this recipe as a smoothie and not for an acai bowl, add ¾ cup milk or more as needed for a thinner consistency)
Add all ingredients to a high powered blender and blend until smooth. Consistency should be thick, like ice-cream. Add more liquid if necessary.
At this point, you can enjoy this as a smoothie or scoop into bowls for homemade acai bowls.
Make Your Own Acai Bowls
To make your acai bowls, simply scoop out your acai smoothie into your bowls of choice.
Add any toppings of your choosing on top of the acai smoothie-base, such as fresh, dried or frozen fruit, nuts/seeds, granola, coconut, chocolate chips or cocoa nibs. That’s all there is to it!
Now you have a delicious snack to enjoy on a hot summer day that offers your body a terrific balance of healthy fats, energy-boosting carbs, protein and fiber to keep you satiated while keeping your taste buds happy.
If you or your kiddos are needing a gluten free and dairy free snack option because of food allergies, acai bowls are a great and safe choice. The acai smoothie recipe is both gluten free and dairy free, just be sure you are using a non-dairy milk, such as almond milk.
Top your acai bowls with similar toppings, but opt for a gluten-free granola and dairy free chocolate chips if needed.
Finding Freedom to Enjoy All Foods Again
For me, acai bowls were once a food I was afraid of eating because of my rigid rules.
Are there any foods that you WANT but don’t allow yourself to eat because of rigid food rules or dieting? If so, know that you are not alone.
You too can break the cycle and allow yourself to enjoy the foods you want and crave. You can trust yourself as the best expert of what you need and find freedom from food rules.
Do you need help with this process? Please connect with me today - I would love to hear your story and learn if I can help you.
What is your favorite summer snack to enjoy with your family?