Pure Raw Juice: Acai Bowls & Pregnancy Cravings

Pregnancy cravings, what a crazy experience. Am I right? I mean, not everything is stereotype, like pickles and ice cream or other weird combos like pulled pork on ice cream, or sardines + blueberries + crackers. No, I didn’t crave those things, but people do. I saw it on The Internet. It’s true.

For me, pregnancy cravings come and go in waves; very insanely intense waves. Like, when I crave something, I require it. It’s less a craving and more a necessity. I can’t think of anything else other than that one thing until the craving either passes or is satisfied. Currently? I find myself in a weird place. A craving-less place. That’s right. A craving-free zone, if you will. While it’s kind of liberating to not have my mind completely consumed by some arbitrary food product, I also don’t really ever know what I want to eat, like ever.

Just kidding. As I was writing this, the desire for super cold, crunchy and ultra juicy watermelon and succulent and unctuous cantaloupe reared its head. Like, whoa. That sounds AMAZING. Now, thank you. Please wait while I go procure, chill and cut some melons.

Thank you. I feel much better. Anyway, now that my mind has been cleared once again, I’m able to sit and reflect back on cravings past, and either think, “Yeah that made sense.” Or think, “Why are you sooooo weird?”

So far during this pregnancy, I’ve craved Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream Bars, broccoli sautéed with garlic and crushed red peppers, Totino’s pizza rolls, this one burger from Abbey Burger Bistro that I think has been re-named and paired with a different variety of meat (Used to be called The Santa Fe, now called the Southwest Bison Burger: Bison burger, jalapenos, salsa, avocado, pepper jack, spicy crème fraiche on a classic bun – I just want beef), french fries, fish sticks (???), ranch dressing, avocado toast, mustard-based, potato salad, tuna sandwiches with hot peppers and sprouts SPECIFICALLY from Jimmy John’s, the melon, and finally the biggest craving of all, acai bowls.

Yes, acai bowls. That is why we’re here today, folks, to talk about the beauty that is a perfectly crafted acai bowl.

You may be asking yourself, “What is an acai bowl?” Let me break it down for you. An acai bowl is essentially a super thick fruit smoothie, based in the super-fruit, the acai berry, that’s been topped with granola, fruit, honey, and sometimes some form of nut butter. It’s ultra pretty, super cold, and really good for you. Once you’re done admiring the colorful creation, you get to then scarf it down with a spoon. Careful for brain freeze. It can get intense.

Sounds like a trend. Is it a trend? I don’t know. I mean, I remember a few years ago when acai was all the rage, and everyone was obsessing over the super fruit in the same way people freaked out over kale and juicing. I didn’t really jump on the bandwagon, since at the time, we lived in central TX where acai wasn’t something that was just on any old menu. I’m sure if I had gone into Austin, I could have found some hippy-dippy spot with an acai bowl on the menu, but honestly, I didn’t even care to. Not until Michael and I took a vacation to San Diego in the summer of 2014.

We were deep in the dog days of summer, and I was freshly pregnant with Jack. Michael and I took a grown-ups only trip to San Diego, CA, and it was the best week ever up to that point. I look back on that trip with only joy. Pure joy. The beaches, the zoo, the food… San Diego was so good to us.

Anyway, it was on Mission Beach where I headed to the Big Kahuna Ice Cream stand in search of something to beat the heat. I wanted something healthy since I’d been chowing down on so MUCH good food that isn’t so good FOR you, so instead of ice cream, I opted for the acai bowl. What I received was a plastic to-go bowl filled with smooth, frozen, purple stuff I mistook for sorbet, bananas, strawberries, granola and honey. Power-packed deliciousness. 

Acai Bowl on the beach from Big Kahuna Ice Cream

It was the best thing I could have ordered that day, as it brought my body temperature down, and filled my body with some awesome nutrition. Plus, the best part? IT’S DANG DELICIOUS.

Here in the U.S., acai berries, native to Brazil, don’t come as a whole fruit, but as frozen puree. Normally, you’ll find it as a mixture of acai puree and frozen fruit usually bananas, and sometimes apple juice or other fruit juices, soy, almond or coconut milk to thin it out and add creaminess. That’s how you get the smooth and creamy texture, as well as the distinctive berry/banana flavor.

My first bite of the acai bowl was heaven. Pure heaven. It was sweet, smooth, and creamy, with the added crunch and excitement from the fruit and cereal. The whole experience was mind-blowing, and from that moment on, I was an acai bowl addict. That’s the first step, right? Admitting?

Anyway, The whole rest of that trip, I tried acai bowls from a variety of places in and around San Diego and La Jolla, and they were all delicious. Each bowl was a bit different from the last, but each one was the same in that it was delicious.

Acai Bowl @ Swell Cafe (couldn’t get enough of this stuff!)

We returned home to central TX where acai wasn’t a thing, and I didn’t think about it again. We moved to Baltimore, MD back in 2015, and I really had zero thought in my mind about the sweet and healthy concoction. Like, none. I forgot all about them.

And then I got pregnant again, and then I thought of them again, those beautiful, sweet and delicious acai bowls, totally out of the blue. I don’t even know where the thought came from – 3 years after I had my only exposure to the the thing – but that spark of a thought turned into a major force inside my soul. I needed an acai bowl. And I needed it NOOOOWWWWW!!!

But I am in the middle of Baltimore City. Like, I don’t live in a ritzy suburb, saying “oh I live in Baltimore,” just because it’s much easier to say “Baltimore” than the name of the suburb no one knows about. I live in the actual city-city, and it’s one not totally known for their tropical fare, or their Brazilian grub. Go figure.

But I decided to hop on the Google machine and look anyway. And guess what? Not only did I find a place that makes amazing acai bowls, but that place is only like a 7 minute walk from my house, just down the street from Major’s school. How about that?

Pure Raw Juice Bar, located at 1401 Riverside Ave here in south Baltimore makes eating HEALTHY fast, fresh and accessible to the Baltimore area. With a mission to make healthy eating a habit everyone can adopt, they are there to fuel a healthy lifestyle.

And in addition to their fresh juice blends, and smoothies, they have, wait for it, ACAI! Score!

Once I found the acai bowls at Pure Raw Juice, it wasn’t more than just a few days that went by before I had a chance to get over there to satisfy my NEED for some acai. Their acai bowl menu is actually pretty extensive, consisting of 4 different varieties. You may not think 4 variations sounds “extensive,” but in my limited exposure to acai bowls and seeing them on menus, there’s usually just one. And it’s usually basic. So to see 4 was cool. They’re $9.25 for a 24 oz or $13.5 for a 32 oz. The acai base is created with acai, banana and apple juice. The varieties availible are…

  1. Traditional: topped with granola, strawberries, blueberries, banana, coconut, and honey
  2. Honey Bee: topped with granola, bee pollen, honey and banana
  3. Hawaiian: topped with granola, kiwi, mango and coconut
  4. Protein Blast ($10 for 24 oz, $14 for 32 oz): topped with granola, almond butter, banana, sliced almonds, hemp seeds

Mmm, good. The one that drew my attention now 3 times that I’ve been to satisfy my craving that won’t seem to go away is the Hawaiian, with added strawberries. So good.

The first time I went, I ordered, received my 24 oz Hawaiian bowl to-go, and headed back home. The first thing that I noticed was how pretty it was. The acai is a brilliant purple color, and the fruit and toppings on top were so bright and colorful. Everything contrasted against each other and colors popped everywhere. Eating your rainbow was never so easy.

They give you a super generous portion of acai, so it’s not just a little acai with a lot of toppings, as I actually did encounter while in San Diego, but rather it was a LOT of acai with a perfect amount of toppings. Sensational.

How’d it taste? Perfect. The acai wasn’t watery at all, and was perfectly balanced and sweet. It tastes like a cross between a blueberry, raspberry and banana, and the texture is smooth and creamy. The toppings paired perfectly, and basically, it made for an amazing experience.

The thing is, it’s really filling. REALLY FILLING. The first time I got one, I couldn’t eat the whole thing. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t prepared. I guess the other bowls I had in the past were not 24 oz. They were NOT 24 oz. I’d be surprised if they were anymore than 4 or 5 oz.

So the second time I got one, I planned on it being a meal rather than a snack, and that helped. It really filled me up, and made a perfect breakfast. Not only is it delicious, sweet, and refreshing, it’s super healthy, packed with all kinds of antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients. I felt really confident that I was doing right by my body and my baby by eating something packed with so much good-for-you stuff.

The third time I got one, I treated it as a snack, and snacked on it over the course of a few days. It spent time in the freezer in between snacks to maintain its integrity, and it worked just fine. I absolutely love these things.

Anyway, if you’re in Baltimore, and you’re craving the good-for-you treat, you can find perfectly delicious and amazing acai bowls right in your own back yard at Pure Raw Juice Bar. Yum.

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Katie Ogletree is the creator, writer and photographer of Slow Down and Savor, a food and lifestyle blog based out of Baltimore, MD. She is a graduate of Texas State University with a degree in Mass Communication, a wife of an amazing guy, and mother of two wonderful boys, a beautiful girl, and three gorgeous kitties. She loves exploring Baltimore City and is excited to see what it’s all about through its food, and those that make it. She is a self-professed foodie of all classifications, from fine dining and conceptual fare to the simplest and sometimes messiest bar food around, and absolutely loves sharing it with anyone she can. Thanks for visiting Slow Down and Savor!
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One thought on “Pure Raw Juice: Acai Bowls & Pregnancy Cravings

  1. […] Remember how a couple of weeks back I was sharing my cravings with all of you? In fact, I shared the healthiest craving ever, my undying love for acai bowls, and how you can get a really dang good one at a local (to me) spot, Pure Raw Juice. Yeah, remember that? Well, today I think I’m going polar opposite, and want to talk about the insane craving I had last week for doughnuts. […]

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