As a non-diet registered dietitian, one skill I regularly teach clients is how to mindfully savor the food they eat. Research has shown countless benefits of mindful eating, including greater awareness of hunger and fullness levels, improved dietary quality, and better overall health. As a food lover, my personal favorite benefit of mindful eating is that it can help you enjoy food more, by building a greater connection and awareness of your own taste preferences. With our on-the-go lifestyle, many people are quickly gulping down food without actually tasting it. Many of my clients don’t even know what foods they like! Mindful eating can help you discover vocabulary to describe what you enjoy, dislike, or feel neutral about with food.
One fun way to build mindful eating skills is to pick a food to focus on and learn how to taste it like a connoisseur. In this blog post, you’ll learn how to taste acai like a pro. But first, let’s do a primer on Açaí!
What is acai?
The acai berry is a deep purple berry that grows from the acai palm, a tree that grows in tropical regions. The acai berry is packed with powerful antioxidants and healthy omegas 3, 6, and 9, which help promote heart, skin and brain health. Acai is also a good source of fiber. The taste – well, I’ll let you come up with your own adjectives after this mindful eating experiment! Personally, I think it tastes like a mixture of berries and chocolate. SAMBAZON Açaí superfruit packs, which come with either pure acai puree, or lightly sweetened acai blended with guarana, are a convenient way to enjoy the flavor and nutrients in the fruit.
How to Mindfully Taste Acai
To taste acai like a connoisseur, I suggest starting by tasting pure acai! This allows for you to recognize the distinct flavors of acai, even when it’s blended up with other ingredients into a smoothie or smoothie bowl.
To experience pure acai, I suggest using a packet of SAMBAZON Pure Unsweetened Frozen Acai. Made with no added sugar, it allows you to taste the fruit in it’s purest form. Let the packet sit at room temperature for a bit to soften, then break it up in the packet so it’s a slightly slushy consistency. Squeeze the puree into a small bowl, grab a pen, paper, and spoon, and you’re ready for tasting!
When I teach clients how to mindfully taste a food, I like to break the tasting down into different senses: sight, smell, sound, touch, taste. This allows one to explore each sense individually and gain a more nuanced appreciation of the food.
- Sight – Look at acai puree. What do you notice about it? How would you describe the color? If you were describing it’s appearance to a blindfolded artist who was instructed to recreate a picture of it, what would you say?
- Smell – Bring the bowl of acai puree to your nose. What does it smell like? What notes can you detect?
- Sound – OK, so to be fair, this sense doesn’t work very well with acai tasting! Typically, I have clients take a bite of food and notice what it sounds like as they are chewing. If you like, try a spoonful of acai puree and notice the sounds as you swallow - or just move to the next step!
- Touch – Take another spoonful of acai puree and notice the texture. How would you describe it? What does it feel like on your tongue? What about the temperature? Does the consistency change as the slushy melts in your mouth?
- Taste – Take another spoonful of acai puree and this time pay attention to the different flavors. Can you distinguish the different notes of acai. Does it remind you of other foods?
In writing down notes from your mindful tasting, I remind clients that it’s OK if you don’t have the right words to express what you’re observing. It’s the noticing that’s most important, not your ability to put it into words! If you want to make up a word to express your sensory experience, that is okay! It’s your tasting, and your rules.
If you’d like to take your tasting to the next level, try these recipes for a classic acai smoothie and a classic acai smoothie bowl. The smoothie recipe allows for you to observe the differences in acai flavor when it’s blended with other ingredients, like blueberries, banana, and vanilla flavored Greek yogurt. Can you distinguish the blueberry flavor from the acai? What about the banana? How does blending the banana change the texture and mouthfeel? Are you able to notice the hint of both tart and vanilla from the Greek yogurt? The classic acai smoothie bowl uses similar ingredients to the smoothie, but gives you a chance to explore mouthfeel a bit further. Do you prefer the thicker smoothie bowl or the more drinkable texture of the smoothie? What do you notice about the various toppings? What is the mouthfeel like when you mix and match toppings in each bite? Have fun playing with your food and exploring your personal preferences!
Remember, this mindful eating exercise is not how you should eat all the time – you would never leave the dinner table! However, you can take a mindful bite of food with each meal, pausing for just a few seconds to notice and savor the different sensory experiences.
Classic Açaí Smoothie
Makes 2 servings
- ¾ cup frozen blueberries
- ½ frozen banana
- 1/3 cup full fat vanilla Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon hemp hearts
- ¾ cup non-dairy milk of choice
- Place the Açaí packet, blueberries, banana, Greek yogurt, hemp and milk in a blender. Puree until creamy and smooth.
- Pour into a glass and enjoy immediately.
Classic Açaí Smoothie Bowl
Makes 2 servings
- 2 cups frozen mixed berries
- ½ frozen banana
- 1/3 cup non-dairy yogurt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup of non-dairy milk of choice, plus more as needed to blend
- Toppings of choice: granola, fresh fruit, shredded coconut, chopped nuts, hemp or chia seeds, Greek yogurt
- In a high speed blender, combine Açaí packets, mixed berries, banana, cottage cheese, vanilla extract, and non-dairy milk. Blend until smooth using a blender tamper to help combine.
- Pour into a bowl and smooth the top with a spoon or spatula.
- Top with your choice of toppings and serve immediately.