Açaí you say? 

A couple days ago, I went to try Raw Juce. It’s a great new juice bar that just opened in Palm Beach Gardens. I’ve been following them on Instagram for a little while and have been dying to try it. I love fresh juices, it’s just my wallet that does not. I knew it was going to be a little bit pricey for breakfast but I bit the bullet and went. It is conveniently located right next door to an Orangetheory fitness center, smart on Raw Juce’s part. I walked in with my boyfriend and we were immediately welcomed by a friendly staff. Their menu is a bit overwhelming but the staff was extremely helpful in explaining what all the ingredients were and what their health benefits are. They offer free samples of their juices which we definitely took advantage of by trying almost all of them. There honestly was not one that I did not enjoy, which certainly didn’t help me on deciding what to get.. I tend to get order anxiety everywhere I go and it was on steroids here. After thinking on it for what seemed like an hour, I ended up getting their “Raw Green”. It’s packed full of nutrients with Parsley, Spinach, Romaine, Kiwi, Lemon, Gala Apple, Kale, Chlorella, Ginger. It was surprisingly sweet for a green juice, which I loved. I’m assuming the sweetness came from the apple and kiwi. I ended up ordering an Açaí bowl as well so I drank my juice after riding my horse later in the day and it absolutely hit the spot.  

Next to all of their juices, you’ll find an “açaí bowl” menu. Many of you are saying “bless you” at the moment and may have no idea what I’m talking about. Açaí bowls are on the rise as “superfoods” and the new, hip thing. They are packed with all kinds of goodies and nutrients. I decided on the Cacao Crunch Protein Açaí bowl. Ready for all these ingredients? It was packed with Banana, Mango, Almond Mylk, Vega Sport Protein, Cacao, Raw Honey, topped with Flax & Hemp Granola, Chopped Almonds, Hemp Seeds, Strawberries, Bananas, Blueberries, Raw Cacao Nibs, Raw Honey. Holy healthy. So as I’m sitting there eating my Açaí bowl, I ask myself, “do I even know what Açaí actually is?”. Stupidly, my answer was no. I could not think if it was a dairy product like yogurt, a fruit or a vegetable. No. Idea. I just knew it was delicious. I decided I should probably do some research and figure out what the heck this yummy stuff was.

What is açaí?

So alas, Açaí is a fruit. There are small berries that come off of a Açaí Palm. It is a species of Palm tree that comes from Brazil and Trinidad. The acai berry, is a small, round, black berry about an inch in diameter. The seed takes up about 80 percent of the berry, but the flesh and skin pack plenty of vitamins and other nutrients in the remaining 20 percent. Not to mention the berries are only about 70 calories a cup. Yes please. 

What are the health benefits?

1. Antioxidants

Like other berries, açaí are packed with antioxidants that can help build up your immune system and protect your cells against damage from free radicals.

2. Fiber

Full of fiber, açaí berries not only help make your trips to the bathroom regular and healthy, but also help keep you full and your blood sugar steady.

3. Heart-Healthy Fats

It might seem like a diet rich in fish, nuts, and avocados is the only way to get enough omega-3 fatty acids, but açaí berries are also a great source. By eating a diet rich in these heart-healthy fats, you could lower your risk of coronary heart disease and improve your cholesterol.

4. Calcium

High in calcium, açaí berries will help keep your bones, heart, muscles, and nerves strong and healthy.

5. Immune System Booster

One study found that polyphenolic compounds extracted from acai reduced the proliferation of malfunctioning cells by up to 86%.It is thought that acai berry contains phytochemicals that can disrupt cell mutation at a molecular level, killing the affected cells before they multiply. Acai berries are not a cure for any disease but, hopefully, more research will yield more positive discoveries.

6. Has Anti-Aging Effects

Extremely high in many forms of phytochemicals, acai berries may slow or reverse aging processes as they relate to oxidative damage. In fact, the berries are one of the best sources of antioxidants; one berry has ten times as many antioxidants as grapes and twice as many as blueberries.

7. Boosts Energy

Due to its overall health benefits, taking acai extract can lead to an increased overall level of energy and stamina, and may aid to combat fatigue and exhaustion. Whenever you need a boost, simply eat a handful of berries and you will be ready to go in no time!

Where to buy and how to use?

Pretty sweet little berries huh? (No pun intended). So then I wonder, how do you buy açaí? Do you buy a carton of berries? Do you buy some kind of juice? Apparently, açaí berries spoil in 24 hours. So, the only way to buy it, is frozen. The fruit is puréed and then frozen. I read that is very hard to find in your local grocery stores. But my best friend, Trader Joe’s, never fails me. I immediately spotted it in the frozen fruit section. I do believe Whole Foods carries it as well. So now I have frozen açaí….. how do I turn this into a beautiful, creamy açaí bowl? Apparently the trick to making a great açaí bowl recipe is creating the right texture with milk. The consistency should be creamy — blended so that it is thick enough to scoop. To make an açaí bowl, mix a puree packet with milk and other ingredients like bananas and blueberries until creamy. Top with your favorite fruits, granola, or nuts and serve. Boom! New favorite breakfast. I’m also going to try it with almond milk and see if I can get the same consistency, for a no dairy option. So go impress all your friends by making a superfood breakfast (and you’ll look super cool when you post a picture on Instagram with #acai #blessed) 

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