You started eating a daily acai bowl several eons ago (okay, a year and a half) and maybe have since fallen out of your habit—or were an acai skeptic to begin with. But now that all eyes are on Rio for the Olympics, it’s time to take a new look at the traditional, oh-so-Instagrammable Brazilian fruit. A refresher: the acai (pronounced ah-sah-EE) berry is the fruit of the acai palm, native to Brazil, Trinidad, and the northern part of South America. Plenty of people believe acai berries pack health benefits including weight loss, anti-aging properties, and immunity—though these claims of course have their doubters.
What’s not in dispute, though, is that acai makes an excellent breakfast option (or lunch, or snack), and that Rio is pretty much the world capital of the acai bowl stand. Olympic athletes and fans alike are flocking to the city’s vendors for acai bowls, acai smoothies—and acai smoothie bowls, which are made by taking fresh or frozen acai berries, and pureeing them alone or with other fresh fruits like bananas, other berries, kiwi, or whatever is in season and on hand. Then blend in fruit juice, nut butter, yogurt, nut or dairy milks, or the sweetener of your choice (agave and honey are pretty popular), all to your own taste. Top it with additional sliced fruit, coconut, nuts, granola, or chocolate chips until you're happy.
Here are a few of our favorites.
Health Magazine's blend of acai, berries, mango, wheat germ, and coconut water weighs in at just 288 calories and combines nutritional power with plenty of flavor.
Cooking Light shares an expat's ode to West Coast smoothie bowls, featuring an easy-freezing acai packet, plenty of granola and coconut crunch, and a sweet drizzle of almond milk.
Southern Living paired with Blenders & Bowls to create an acai bowl that leans hard into local ingredients like fruit, honey, and bee pollen.
Food & Wine's recipe layers lush chia pudding, honey yogurt, banana slices, and toasted coconut into a parfait that's also a feast for the eyes.