Face it—those açaí bowls from your local, trendy cafe are too darn expensive. The good news for you is that you can make one that's just as delicous, right at home.
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Acai Bowl
Credit: Sara Tane

If you have scrolled through Pinterest in the last three years or you’ve looked at the blog of any young millennial woman based in Southern California, then you’ve probably laid your eyes on an açaí bowl. Boasting pristine, colorful stripes of various fresh fruits, seeds, nuts, and granolas, these eye-catching breakfast creations are stunning (read: if you don’t Instagram it, you’ve missed out on a huge opportunity). As impressive as these superfood bowls are—both in terms of aesthetics and nutritional value—they come at a hefty price point. Depending on your location and contents of the bowl, you could walk into a cafe and pay upwards of $15 for one bowl. They’re gorgeous, healthy, and satisfying, but are they really worth that much?

If you’re like me and are unable to buy food from a restaurant or retail location without wondering if you could make it at home for cheaper (this is my daily reality), let me be the first one to tell you that you can (and you should) make these at home. Not only does it take some of the strain off your seemingly always-hurting wallet, but it allows you to customize your bowl exactly how you want it to be, without feeling the judgment of an annoyed employee who does not care that you don’t like goji berries. It’s 100% worth your while to head to the grocery store and gather the necessary ingredients for your açaí endeavors, thus setting you up for bowls after bowls of homemade enjoyment.

The most important ingredient, of course, is the frozen packets of açaí purée*, which can be found in any specialty grocery store in the frozen foods aisle next to the fruits . I’d recommend purchasing the unsweetened variety, because this way you can sweeten your fruit bowl to your taste, and use the sweetener of your choosing. While you’re in the frozen aisle, grab a bag of frozen berries and/or cherries to blend along with your açaí.

To your frozen fruit, add half or a whole banana for sweet added thickness and creaminess. For a liquid, you can use fresh fruit juice, coconut water, or just plain ol’ water. Start with a small amount of liquid and slowly add more until you reach your desired thickness. This way, you’re sure to maintain a rich smoothie consistency, which is crucial for adding toppings to your final product. As far as added sugars, if the blended mixture needs a little something, honey, agave nectar, and dates are all great ways to add a touch of sweet depth.

Once your açaí is blended and resting in a shallow bowl, it’s time for toppings. This is where the magic happens. Sliced bananas and berries add a gorgeous pop of color, while chia seeds, ground flax meal, chopped nuts, granola, and toasted coconut shreds add hearty crunch. A small pinch of coarse sea salt is a great way to amplify all of the flavors that are swimming in your bowl, too. If this newfound liberty in controlling what goes into your smoothie does not help you kick your habit of dropping all your money at the local smoothie bowl joint, then frankly, I don’t know what will.

*These bowls can be made without açaí and still taste delicious. However, by omitting the açaí, you’re no longer consuming an açaí bowl, and everybody will know that you are a superfood imposter. You should be ashamed. But enjoy your smoothie bowl all the same.

By Sara Tane and Sara Tane