Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about açaí, including how to pronounce it. (Hint: it’s not “ack-kai”)
Let’s get one thing out of the way: AH-SIGH-EEE. Say it with me… ah-sigh-eeeeee!
Like quinoa and freekeh before it, açaí has joined the ranks of oft mispronounced superfoods. Difficult to decipher, perhaps, but worth the tongue-twister once it’s made its way into your breakfast. Chock full of antioxidants, protein, fiber, and a host of vitamins, açaí is also extremely low in sugar, making it a 100% healthy addition to your morning smoothie or baked treat. With pronunciation out of the way, let’s dive into everyone’s favorite smoothie ingredient — what should be everyone’s favorite smoothie ingredient — açaí.
What is it? Native to Central and South America, where Amazonian tribes have been known to drink upwards of two litres of açaí juice per day, the açaí available in most grocery stores is the dried powder of the açaí fruit. A drupe (stone fruit), açaí fruit comes from the açaí palm, which is harvested primarily for its fruit and hearts of palm. Boasting higher levels of antioxidants than blueberries and grapes, açaí powder has become a pantry staple for smoothie aficionados over the past couple of years, thanks to studies that ave shown it to benefit everything from heart health to skin issues. Responsible hand-harvesting of açaí fruit by indigenous peoples ensures economic benefit to communities who depend on the fruit and an eco-friendly alternative to cutting down the palms; for this reason, it’s important to always choose an organic, eco- and social-friendly brand of açaí.
What are the benefits? Thanks to the high levels of antioxidants, açaí powder helps to neutralize free radicals in the body and assist in cellular renewal, benefiting everything from skin to brain function. A good source of polyphenols and flavonoids, which are indicated by the fruit’s dark purple, almost indigo hue. Açaí is chock full of fibre and protein and extremely low in sugar (1 serving of açaí powder has less than 1 gram of sugar), making it a healthy and flavorful addition to smoothies.
How do I use it? Açaí’s tart, berry-like taste lends itself well to sweet breakfasts and desserts. Thanks to its high levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, açaí powder adds a creamy taste to anything it’s added to. Açaí blends particularly well into smoothies, drinks, yogurt, oatmeal, and quickbread and muffin recipes. If fresh berries aren’t available, the freeze dried powder is the next best thing, as many frozen açaí “juices” and smoothie packs contain unnecessary fillers, fruit juices and sugars. Be sure to check the label and read ingredients to ensure you’re purchasing the highest quality açaí.
With its high levels of antioxidants, protein and fibre, açaí is the perfect thing to add to your post-workout snack. Read on for your new favorite recipe…
Classic Açaí Bowl
2 tbsp 100% açaí powder (I like Sunfoods or Navitas brands)
1 large banana, sliced and frozen
1 scoop hemp seeds or hemp protein powder
1 tsp chia seeds
1/2 cup coconut water
Toppings: Blackberries, goji berries, kiwi, desiccated coconut, hemp seeds
Place açaí powder, banana, hemp protein, chia seeds, and coconut water in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Place in a bowl and top with berries, fruit, hemp seeds, and fresh coconut.
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