Acai and Juice Bars

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I could easily dedicate an entire post to Acai, the delicious, refreshing and incredible Brazilian berry that I have grown to love.  Acai is very popular in Brazil and is eaten frozen "na tijela" (in a bowl), as an ice-cream flavor and as juice, just to name a few.

For me, in Rio de Janeiro, Acai is synonymous with Bibi Sucos, a famous healthy juice bar/restaurant with locations all over the city.  We would go there for giant egg-white omeletes, crepes filled with shrimp and caipury cheese, and of course the giant Acai bowl.  Many people like their acai bowl mixed with granola, tapioca, coconut or strawberries, but I prefer banana slices and chopped cashews.

Acai always comes in many different sizes and it's also fun to get it to go in a plastic cup and eat it at the beach with a plastic spoon.  Nothing cures a hangover like an Acai, a fresh coconut and a jump in the ocean!

I became a fan of Bibi Sucos on my most recent trip to Rio while living in Copacabana. But I do also have to give a shout out to Poli Sucos, my first juice bar love located in Ipanema.  Poli sucos is more informal than Bibi--- there is standing room only-- but they also have an excellent fillet mignon sandwich with bacon.

To be honest, it's hard to go wrong with juice bars in Rio.  They are open at all hours and serve a ridiculously large selection of fresh juices and other snacks.  My favorite juices besides Acai are papaya, mango and melao (melon).  I recommend that you order your juices "sem azucar" (without sugar) or "com pouco azucar" (just a little sugar), because Brazilians love their juices super-sweet and many places automatically add a ton of sugar.

When I returned back to the states after living in Brazil for a few months, I really missed my daily juices and especially my Acai.  Acai has become extremely popular in the US due to its purported health benefits, so in most big cities you can now find a place that makes a decent bowl.  But I've also learned to create one myself at home several times a week:

Recipe: Acai Bowl with Banana and Cashews (for one person)

2 packets of frozen natural Acai with nothing added (you can find this in the frozen section at Whole Foods)

1/4 cup of almond milk (or more depending on how you like the consistency)

1 ripe banana

agave sweetener

handful of crushed cashews

Put the Acai packets in a bowl and microwave for a few moments to soften.  Using either a blender or hand blender, combine the Acai with the almond milk and the agave sweetener (you can add as much sweetness as you like and you can also use regular sugar).  Once the mixture is fully blended but not too runny, scoop it into a bowl.  Top with sliced bananas and chopped cashews.  Yum!!!