What Do Chia, Pitaya and Açai Have in Common?


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Question: What do chia, pitaya, and açai have in common… besides strange names?


Answer: These are three foods that were featured in the morning “Energy Bowls” I enjoyed on my recent trip to San Diego. 


When our daughter went to university in California, I often enjoyed the healthful juices, smoothies and energy bowls that are ubiquitous in that sunny state. Whenever I visited her, she knew exactly where to take me for my favorite detox juice and açai bowl. I always felt so healthy by the time I returned home! Since she graduated and moved a few years ago, I must admit that I miss those trips to the juice bar, perhaps even more than walking along the beach. 


I’ve threatened to open up a Energy Bowl and Juice shop here in North Carolina, which I believe would be a big success. However, neither my husband nor I want to get into the food service industry at this point. For now, I’ll just have to fly to California whenever I get that craving. And that’s exactly what I did recently!


My husband and I had been planning to visit a friend of his in San Diego for some time, but little did he know that I had an ulterior motive! This was going to be my chance to eat some of that clean, green California food I love so much! So, I began researching coffee shops, juice bars and restaurants on our very first full day.


For breakfast I instantly spotted the açai bowl offered at a small neighborhood coffee shop. This was a very simple version, but still delicious! They even included 2 spoons (it was a large bowl), and my husband reluctantly agreed to have a taste. He proceeded to eat half of it.


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Açai is a South American superfruit, that has similar or higher (depending on the resource) ORAC values (the amount of antioxidants) as blueberries, pomegranates and red grapes. Some sources claim that it has the highest ORAC value of any fruit or vegetable, whereas others rate it in the mid-range. By doing a search online, you can read volumes about this tiny little berry, but the contradictions can be very confusing. Here are some highlights and generalities.


Açai contains:


- good amounts of minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc

- high levels of vitamins like A, B, C and K

- more resveratrol than red wine

- many phytochemicals including antioxidants, flavonoids and plant sterols

- high amounts of fiber

- beneficial fatty acids

- amino acids (proteins)

- relatively low levels of sugar and calories

- amazing flavor


Due to its excellent nutritional profile, açai is believed to be beneficial for heart health, cancer prevention, arthritis, inflammation, metabolic disorders, the immune system and digestive issues. It has been used in traditional herbal medicine for diarrhea, parasites, stomach issues, and bleeding.


The berry is quite perishable, so for those of us in the US, we must buy it as a frozen purée or as a freeze-dried powder. There are many ways to put together an açai energy bowl, but here’s my take: Brazilian Açai Bowl. 


The next day, I chose a Pitaya Bowl from a shop that specializes in fresh juices, smoothies, etc. See the brightly colored pitaya purée on the bottom? Learn more about pitaya at this previous post: Pitaya. 


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Last, but certainly not least, I tried the Chia Pudding Bowl, which I did not photograph since I went to breakfast empty handed that day. However, I immediately began experimenting with my own chia pudding once I got home, and it’s become my newest craving:


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This is good enough to eat as dessert!


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Or, add it to a smoothie with some frozen fruit. I used cherries.


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Or use the plain pudding or the chia pudding smoothie as your base in a Chia Energy Bowl:


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I will write up my chia pudding recipe very soon, so check back. I’ve been experimenting to find my favorite ratios of milk to chia seeds and other ingredients. 


In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a few sunny photos from San Diego so you can vicariously soak up the rays:


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View of San Diego Harbor from Cabrillo National Monument at Point Loma


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View of San Diego from a friend’s sailboat


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Hiking at Torrey Pines State Park

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Watching waves at Wind and Sea Beach


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Strolling through the bamboo forest at the San Diego Botanic Gardens


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Enjoying sunsets from the balcony of our little condo. Good night!


Resources:

http://foodfacts.mercola.com/acai.html

http://www.fruitsinfo.com/acai-tropicalfruits.php


© Bobbi Mullins 2011, All rights reserved. FOOD FITNESS FAITH™