Amazon Breakfast

Yu Shing Ting
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Friday - June 03, 2005
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I have a new breakfast of choice — açaí (ah-sigh-ee). Actually, I could have it for lunch or dinner too, and it’s a great before-workout treat.


Tamara Valdivia, Lanikai Juice
manager and partner, offers an
açaí bowl

And I’m not the only one hooked on açaí. Lost stars Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly and Dominic Monaghan have been spotted at Lanikai Juice for their daily açaí bowls.

Oprah lists açaí as one of the top 10 superfoods for age-defying beauty. And pro surfers Rob Machado, Pat O’Connell, Taylor Knox and Luke Egan highly recommend it, calling açaí the greatest energy food ever.

Açaí is an organic berry that grows wild in the Brazilian Amazon. Considered to be one of the top superfoods in the world, açaí is antioxidant rich and tastes like a blend of rich berries with a hint of chocolate.

I was introduced to açaí during a visit to my favorite smoothie shop, Lanikai Juice, three months ago. While waiting in line to place my order, I noticed all three customers before me had ordered something called an açaí bowl.

I asked about it, and the customer in front of me answered for the person behind the counter, saying that it’s just wonderful and delicious and that I must try it. So, I ordered one, and now, that’s all I get from the popular Kailua juice bar.

At Lanikai Juice, açaí can be ordered as a smoothie (a blend of Sambazon açaí with guarana, strawberries, blueberries, banana and apple juice) or as a bowl (same as the smoothie but topped with organic granola and sliced bananas).

There’s also the Açaí Traditional available as a smoothie or bowl (with double açaí, banana and apple juice), and the Açaí Extravaganza bowl (double açaí, banana, strawberries, apple juice, fresh berries and grated coconut).

“About three years ago, we started offering this açaí as an antioxidant option,” says Pablo Gonzalez, owner of Lanikai Juice. “People tried it and they realized that the guarana inside makes this combination not only good for antioxidants, but also a great energizer. You can feel this energizing boost right away. Also, it tastes good, so all of this makes the açaí unique. “I can tell you that wheat grass is good for you, but it tastes no good. Açaí is good for you and it tastes good. Little by little, people started talking about it, and now we have customers from different areas of the island who come for our açaí.”

Many other local health food stores and juice bars also offer açaí. Robeks offers the Açaí Power Bowl (containing Sambazon Açaí, blended with guarana), Awesome Açaí and Açaí Energizer smoothies (using Zola Açaí as the natural base), onthe- go Zola Açaí juice box, and Sambazon organic bottled smoothies.

And Jamba Juice added the Açaí Supercharger to its menu in March, featuring Jamba’s exclusive juice blend infused with guarana, and mixed with blueberries, strawberries and raspberry sherbet.

According to Sambazon, the first company to export açaí from Brazil, açaí is packed with antioxidants, has a rare synergy of essential fatty acids, fiber and amino acids. Traditionally, açaí is enjoyed in a bowl, blended thick and topped with granola and bananas. It is also served as ice cream, smoothies or popsicles.

“For many years the Brazilians made use of the açaí like a fruit,” adds Gonzalez. “Until recently, it could only be found along the beaches of Brazil. But what happened is this company, Sambazon, has brought it to the U.S. and in return, they’re helping the whole economy there. They’ve hired many people, from picking the açaí in the trees, to harvesting, to bringing it to the night market to sell to the companies.

“So when you buy açaí, you’re keeping the cycle of the harvest going, and you’re bringing money back to the Amazon.”

Sambazon has partnerships with four cooperatives in the Amazon which are dedicated to fair-trade pricing and a sustainable harvest through a forest management program. Learn more about açaí at www.sambazon.com

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