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Eat and Drink

Acai bowls, smoothies and cocktails to try now

Frozen yogurt-esque breakfast bowls, fresh juices and even sweet cocktails are bursting with antioxidants this season, and it's all thanks to the acai berry.

The South and Central American fruit does the body good in many ways. It fights free radicals, which can damage cells and lead to heart disease or cancer, and it's also good for the brain due to its rich dose of the antioxidant anthocyanin, "which is what gives the berries their deep purple color," says Brooklyn nutritionist Frances Largeman-Roth. "Anthocyanins have been shown to be promising in helping to reverse age-related declines in cognitive and motor function."

Acai berries aren't just revered by nutritionists.

"As a super fruit with tons of antioxidants, acai is not only very healthy, but it quenches your sweet tooth at the same time," says Seth Levine, executive chef of Hotel Chantelle, who serves a bowl made with frozen acai during weekend brunch.

This summer, check out NYC spots serving the superfood:

Pure Green

The growing juice and smoothie chain sells several
Photo Credit: Pure Green

The growing juice and smoothie chain sells several different types of acai bowls, but a standout is its coconut chia variety. Acai, mango, pineapple, bananas and coconut water are blended together as a base, which is topped with sliced apple, blueberries, chia, coconut and hemp granola. It all clocks in at 275 calories, if you're counting. $8.50; 33 E. 33rd St., 212-481-5554, 60 E. Eighth St., 212-995-2050, thepuregreen.com

Padoca

In addition to its baked goods, this brand-new
Photo Credit: Padoca

In addition to its baked goods, this brand-new UES bakery serves an acai bowl made with frozen acai, soy milk, banana and a layer of granola on both the top and bottom. The walk-in, counter-service eatery serves it all day, from breakfast to dessert. $9.50; 359 E. 68th St., 212-249-8085, padocabakery.com

The Squeeze

Customize your acai bowl at this cold pressed
Photo Credit: The Squeeze

Customize your acai bowl at this cold pressed juice and raw food company. The berry is blended with apple and banana and served with an oatmeal or chia-vanilla pudding base and your choice of three toppings, such as sliced fruit, granola or even more acai. $10; 550 W. 54th St., 212-247-3326, thesqueezejuice.com

Jus by Julie

The Brooklyn juice bar's bottled acai blend features
Photo Credit: Jus by Julie

The Brooklyn juice bar's bottled acai blend features a mix of bananas, strawberries and acai berries for a healthy beverage rich in vitamin C, fiber, potassium and antioxidants. Walk in for a grab-and-go juice or order online for delivery. $8; 2166 E. Fifth St., Gravesend, 1212 Ave. M, Midwood, 347-850- 4587, jusbyjulie.com

Indie Fresh

The Gotham West Market-based health food concept's popular
Photo Credit: Indie Fresh

The Gotham West Market-based health food concept's popular acai protein jar features an acai puree (acai juice, bananas, almond milk and plant-based vanilla ALOHA vanilla protein), paleo granola, banana, blueberries, strawberries and coconut flakes served up parfait-style. Sit at the counter, order to go or have it delivered within Manhattan. $10; 600 11th Ave., 347-776-1780, indiefresh.com

Sushi Samba

The acai isn't just limited to bowls and
Photo Credit: Sushi Samba

The acai isn't just limited to bowls and juices. The Samba Juice features a mix of Bacardi Razz, melon and creme de banana shaken with acai, as well as fresh watermelon, passion fruit puree and guava, all topped with Prosecco. The fresh, fruity libation is served during lunch and dinner. $14; 87 Seventh Ave., 212-691-7885, sushisamba.com

Make O Cafe's acai bowl at home

For a fresh, customizable acai dish, the West
Photo Credit: Beatriz da Costa

For a fresh, customizable acai dish, the West Village coffee shop O Cafe shares this recipe for its acai bowl.

Pro tip: When buying the berry, the best quality has a rich purple color, as opposed to brown or reddish.

O Cafe's acai bowl

1 frozen acai pack (100 g.)

6 oz. fresh apple juice (can substitute apple cider)

2 oz. frozen bananas

4 oz. ice cubes

Blend all ingredients together until it becomes a sorbet.

Top with your favorite granola, or sprouted quinoa, amaranth, coco nibs and seeds for an extra supplement of proteins and antioxidants.

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