I recently returned from one of the best weeks ever in Maui. The second-largest of the Hawaiian islands, Maui is also known as the 'Magic Isle' for its rolling hills, misty mountains, and best-in-the-world beaches. While the topography of the island is incredibly stunning and there are endless adventures to be had, the company was certainly the highlight of my vacation.
Jake and I had an amazing time living it up at the luxurious Travaasa Hana for three days and then cruising to the other side of the island for the remainder of the week (we stayed in Kapalua) to see what was happening over there. I loved Maui and I am happy we got to see a good bit of it by staying on both sides, but I must say that Hana was a stand-out piece of paradise. Located on Maui's south-eastern coastline, Hana is a peaceful little village rooted in Hawaiian tradition. Here, we were immersed in the real Hawaii where everything feels and looks untouched or unspoiled. For our three days in Hana, we took it pretty easy (unusual for us both!) but were still able to take full advantage of the amazing location with its rainforests, mountains, and seascapes.
Food-wise, the tropical climate in Hawaii makes for an abundance of many of my favorite foods, namely coconut, banana, mango, passion fruit and papaya. The 70 acre property at Travaasa Hana is flourishing with many of these fruit trees. On a horse-ride through the rolling grass fields along the coast, we were able to pluck a couple of coconuts off a tree to (machete) hack into for a refreshing treat after the ride. We also enjoyed some fresh mango and passion fruit from the property which we ate fruit-to-the-face like ferals.
While all the fresh fruit was awesome, what I was most excited about getting right around in Hawaii was the acai bowls! During a winter-break vacation senior year in college, two of my best friends (Franny and Jessica) and I went to Honolulu for a week to visit Franny's brother who was living there at the time. We absolutely fell in love with Hawaii and all its natural wonder, but we wrote home, and still talk to this day, about the first time we had the pleasure of eating an acai bowl at Diamond Head Cove Health Bar in Honolulu. This delicious experience was my first exposure to "superfoods" as I had never before heard of acai berries or any other super-fruit, for that matter. I guess I owe it to Hawaii, Bob, Franny, Jessica, and Health Bar for igniting, or stoking, the fire of my food curiosity and passion for health! As you would expect in the lead up to my second visit to Hawaii, I was excitedly re-living the 'Acai Glory Days' with Franny and Jessica and promised I would eat enough acai bowls for them too! With the help of my pre-trip research, we were easily able to find a place in Lahaina which did a phenomenal job at concocting multiple versions of the revered acai bowl. Such a nice job, in fact, that we went back two days in a row to get the goods. The recipe below is inspired by their 'Dessert Sunrise' bowl but I have added a bit of my own flair.
Maui-inspired Acai Bowl
Makes 2 servings
- 2 frozen bricks of acai (I used Sambazon unsweetened pure acai berry)
- 2 tbsp acai powder (I used Navitas Naturals)
- fresh young coconut meat (fresh from a young coconut or frozen)
- 1 frozen banana
- 1/4 cup coconut milk (or almond milk or coconut water)
- granola (preferably gluten free and refined sugar free - I used this brand)
- 1 banana
- raspberries (or strawberries or blueberries)
- hemp seeds (or chia or flax seeds)
- shredded coconut
- cacao nibs
- bee pollen (or raw honey)
- drizzle of coconut oil
What to do:
Combine the first five ingredients in your blender or VitaMix and blend thick. The consistency should be thicker than a smoothie as you'll be eating with a spoon instead of drinking it. Depending on the blender you are using, you may need to add a bit more liquid if it's struggling with the frozen chunks. Once thick and smooth, add it to your bowl. Top with a layer of your preferred granola. (Side note: please read labels on store-bought granola. Many are FULL of added sugar.) Slice banana and add 1/2 to each bowl. Toss on some berries and sprinkle with hemp seeds, shredded coconut, and bee pollen. Choice Health Bar used raw honey on their Dessert Sunrise which was heavenly, but I chose to use bee pollen instead for more protein and less sugar. As usual, I drizzled some coconut oil on top...for good luck ;)
As you can see from all the alternative options in the ingredients list above, it's pretty hard to mess this up! Other than the frozen acai blocks, you don't necessarily need to go out and buy all of these ingredients if you don't have them on hand. Instead of the banana + berry topping combo, you could go for a tropical twist by adding mango, papaya, and/or lime. For the sprinkles, you could try goji berries, sunflower/pumpkin seeds, chopped nuts or buckwheat groats. A bit of improv and trial-and-error is totally fine and part of the fun!
Hope you can give these a go sometime soon while the weather is warm, and I always love to hear from you!