What is Açai?
Açai is the hottest food trend in the world. Albeit a major confusion onwhat it is and how to pronounce it, there is no confusion on how delicious it is! Deriving from the word used by the Tupi, formerly one of the most widespread indigenous peoples of Brazil, it literally means “(fruit that) cries and expels water”. For all those curious, the word acai is actually pronounced ah-sah-EE. But what exactly is this bright purple fruit, where does it come from and why is it so expensive?
The Açaí is a delicious & nutritious berry found on palm trees in the Amazon Region of Brazil. These berries have been a staple food for centuries by local Brazilian inhabitants. It is never eaten straight from the tree but in the form of a purée or pulp. The berry is often described as a complete food because it satisfies most of one’s daily nutritional requirements, helps your muscles, heart, and digestion as well as gives you energy!
Açaí is highly perishable. So, when the raw fruit is picked from the tree, it must be processed within twenty-four hours of harvest. Because of this, it was a food only enjoyed by those living in regions close to the Amazon until the 1970s. The fruit was first introduced to the city of Rio de Janeiro and soon there after the craze began! Local Cariocas (a Rio resident) began combining the frozen açaí with fresh fruit and granola to create the famous açaí bowls we know today ("açaí na tigela" literally translating to açai in a bowl). Because Rio is a city of surfers and the body conscious, this healthy snack became the starting ground for what is now a firm part of Brazilian culture. Today, açai is now becoming fashionable throughout the entire world thanks to modern day farming practices.
Fun Fact: As Brazilian folklore states, the berries from this Brazilian palm tree also have strong aphrodisiacal powers. Most Brazilians swear that the açaí berry, when honey is added, becomes a potent elixir for enhancing sexual desire!
Açai’s nutritional benefits include:
Vitamins B1(thiamin), B2 (riboflavin) and B3 (niacin)
Phosphorus and Zinc
Calories: 100 grams of fresh açaí pulp contains just over 45 calories. However, the exact amount of dried pulp in powder form exceeds 500 calories. This makes it excellent for a pre or post workout energy snack.
Açai’s cosmetic benefits include:
Açaí oil - contains a high percentages of phenolic compounds. This is known to promote elasticity and used as an anti-ageing ingredient.
How to make a Brazilian Açai Bowl:
Açai pulp (bought frozen from your local health food store)
Fresh Fruit (banana, mango, apple, blueberries or strawberries)
Optional: Chia Seeds, Guarana Syrup, Powdered Milk, Almonds, Cashews, Honey
1) Place slightly thawed açai in a blender and mix until texture is smooth
2) Using a spatula, place the açai into a bowl
3) Cut your fruit
4) Add your toppings
5) Eat cold & fresh