Lifestyle

Bowled Over: Four Super Smoothie Bowl Shops in Hilo

August 1, 2016, 4:19 PM HST
* Updated September 8, 11:23 AM
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First, there were smoothies: colorful, healthy, fruit-and-vegetable concoctions. We all embraced their icy goodness as we sipped them through fat straws. But then somebody had an even better idea—to pour them into a bowl and add healthy toppings.

Slightly thicker and heartier than the usual smoothie, the bowls have become a popular meal option.

They often contain superfood ingredients, such as chia seeds, flax seeds, goji berries, cacao nibs and protein powder. Toppings also include a wide variety of fruits and granola.

The bowls runs in two camps: acai bowls, which use a Brazilian reddish-purple fruit, rich in vitamins and antioxidants, or smoothie bowls, which are a thick fruit smoothie (let your imagination run wild).

Frozen fruits, mixed with soy or almond milk, or yogurt, make for a satisfying meal. You may also find some that include peanut butter.

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If you ever thought about eating ice cream for breakfast (and who hasn’t?), smoothie or acai bowls are license to do so. After eating a bowl, you’ll be surprised at how full you’ll feel—for hours.

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Fortunately, we islanders haven’t been bypassed in this terrific trend. Here are four fun spots in Hilo town where you can find a bowl. They are not ranked—each has its own creative, delicious twist.

Sweet Cane Café, 48 Kamana St., Hilo

Most popular is their Acai Bowl—and it’s beautiful. Sweet Cane staff makes their own granola, as well as their own yogurt (free of “bad” oils and preservatives). I’m a fan of their Pitaya Bowl (dragonfruit), which has a delicious, unusual flavor and is a striking purple color. Prices range from $7.50 to $12, depending on the base and toppings. Sweet Cane has comfortable seating; the restaurant is cool and comfortable and a great place to relax with friends. They have a family farm and use organic, local ingredients. Big on supporting local farmers, they walk the talk.

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Hours: MondaySaturday, 8 a.m.–6 p.m. Phone: (808) 934-0002.

Hawaiian Crown Plantation and Chocolate Factory, 160 Kilauea Ave., Hilo

The Hawaiian Crown crew on Kilauea Avenue emphasizes use of local, seasonal fruit in their acai bowls. They have developed a recipe which keeps their acai more sorbet-like, so it doesn’t melt as fast. Hawaiian Crown grows its own apple bananas and pineapples, so they are always available as toppings. The business also features fruits, such as mango, dragonfruit, lychee, rambutan, strawberries and blueberries. Poha berries may even make an appearance. Hawaiian Crown’s bowls are made with two layers of crunchy granola, acai mix, fruit, cacao nibs, mac nuts, coconut flakes, local honey and fresh mint. The staff is happy to accommodate food allergies and special diets upon request. Small bowls go for $6; large for $8.

Hours: Tuesday–Wednesday, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.; Thursday–Saturday, 8:30 a.m.–9 p.m.; and Sunday, 11:30 a.m–4 p.m. Phone: (808) 319-6158.

Jamba Juice, 111 East Puainako, Hilo

My husband and I loved the Chunky Strawberry and Island Pitaya “Energy Bowls.” We had agreed to each have half and trade off, but I couldn’t get the strawberry away from him, aside from a taste. My Island Pitaya was topped with bananas, blueberries, strawberries, coconut and granola; his had strawberries, bananas, granola and peanut butter. Both were delicious. Staff members were friendly and fast: Both bowls were ready in under seven minutes, making Jamba a great destination when you want healthy in a hurry. Jamba also has ample parking. Small bowls are $6.86; large are $8.63.

Hours: Saturday, 6:30 a.m.–10 p.m.; Sunday, 7 a.m.–9 p.m.; Monday–Thursday, 6:30 a.m.–9 p.m.; Friday, 6:30 a.m.–10 p.m. Telephone: 959-2250.

Big Island Juice Company, 54 Waianuenue Ave., Hilo

When it comes to Big Island Juice Company’s smoothie bowls, it’s “go big or go home.” Not only are the shop’s smoothie bowls showy, but they’re big (see photos). Want to impress company from the Mainland? This will do the trick. Because the company’s bowl sales were humming, the owners recently remodeled their restaurant to accommodate smoothie bowl prep. They use local ingredients whenever possible. The restaurant is laid-back, comfortable, and the staff is friendly and fun. I could just sit and listen to their music all day (while eating one of their chocolaty Gorilla Bowls). Most popular is their Aloha Açai bowl, which is topped with bananas, blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, watermelon, mac nuts, granola, coconut flakes, hemp seeds and honey. Bowls are a hefty 24 ounces and are $12.

Hours: Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Monday, closed; Tuesday–Friday, 9 a.m.–6 p.m. Telephone: (808) 935-8454. 

I hope I haven’t missed any Hilo bowls! Readers, if I have, please share their information here.

Photo credit: Sweet Cane Cafe

Sweet Cane Cafe’s Acai Bowl with farm-fresh bananas and toppings. Courtesy photo.

Photo credit: Sweet Cane Cafe

Sweet Cane Cafe’s Acai Bowl with bananas, mangos, granola and cacao. Courtesy photo.

Photo Credit: Big Island Juice Company

Strawberry Explosion Bowl, Big Island Juice Company. Marla Walters photo.

Photo credit: Marla Walters

Jamba Juice’s Island Pitaya Energy Bowl. Marla Walters photo.

Photo credit: Hawaiian Crown Plantation and Chocolate Factory

Hawaiian Crown’s Acai Bowl with kiwi, farm-grown fresh mint and bananas. Courtesy photo.

Photo credit: Big Island Juice Company

Aloha Acai Bowl from Big Island Juice Company. Courtesy photo.

Photo credit: Marla Walters

Chunky Strawberry Energy Bowl from Jamba Juice. Marla Walters photo.

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