Calling all açaí bowl lovers in California! My superfood journey was largely inspired by having an açaí bowl in Haleiwa town in Oahu, Hawaii, so when I found out that there’s a dedicated açaí bowl cafe in Palo Alto, California, I knew we had to partner up!
The day BARE Bowls founder Sarah Lipps reached out to me saying they’d like to carry a version of my Pumpkin Papaya Açaí Bowl as a limited time fall offering, I was on cloud nine. BARE is rooted in the concept of clean, whole food, stripped down, fresh and homemade (where possible) ingredients assembled with love to create the most delicious (and good looking) smoothie bowls… SCORE!
Throughout the month of October, the Breakfast Criminals Pumpkin Açaí Bowl is available at BARE Bowls in Palo Alto and Burlingame. To to celebrate, we’re giving away some of our favorite superfoods to those who snag a photo of the pumpkin bowl at BARE using hashtags #barebowls and #breakfastcriminals, and tagging @breakfastcriminals, @bare_bowls. You have a chance to enter virtually as well by making the Breakfast Criminals Pumpkin Acai Bowl and sharing on social media with the tags above.
In the meantime, get to know how one finds the inspiration and creativity to open up an açaí bowl cafe in this interview with BARE Bowls founder Sarah Lipps.What inspired you to start BARE Bowls?
I wanted to start a small business since high school. An açaí bowl shop tied my interest in health with my passion for cooking and baking, while also meeting a need in the area. At the time, there weren’t many health food places, not to say an açaí bowl shop, in Palo Alto.
A few years back, I became increasingly frustrated about the food industry’s lack of transparency in restaurants and advertising in grocery stores—especially when items are misleading. [Breakfast Criminals: A common practice in “health” food marketing.]
I am inspired by the idea that healthy food can taste amazing. BARE is all about transparency—pure açaí, homemade nut milks and almond butter, handmade local granola–people are being served exactly what’s on the menu. No fillers, fruit juices, added sweeteners, or ingredients one can’t pronounce!
Why açaí bowls?
To start off, I could eat açaí bowls every day! I love smoothie bowls because they are substantial—healthy, tasty and nutritious at the same time, whether it’s a snack or meal. We are all about real food and real food ingredients—not calories or specific diets. It’s ACAI-UMMM (awesome!) when people say that they feel great after eating at BARE and don’t have to sacrifice taste for nutrition.
My first açaí bowl in Hawaii was one of the things that started Breakfast Criminals. It was SO GOOD. What was your first açaí bowl experience?
My açaí bowl beginnings that stand out the most are rooted in a trip to Brazil my sophomore year abroad in college. Açaí bowl and smoothie shops were on every street corner—I loved that health food shops and smoothie bars are the norm there.
I’m pretty sure we ate acai bowls at least twice a day and we weren’t complaining ;)
What are your favorite açaí bowl toppings?
Fresh strawberries and bananas, roasted almonds, cacao nibs and hemp seeds! Oh, and you can never go wrong with a scoop of almond butter. ;)
What is the key to the perfect açaí bowl?
Texture! I love thick and creamy açaí bowls. [Breakfast Criminals: the key is in frozen bananas and/or avocado]. Also not too sweet. Fruit is nature’s candy–I love bowls made with homemade nut milk compared to fruit juice. A final note would be granola quality—granola can range from unhealthy to hand crafted and pure. I’m sure you can guess which I would choose!
How do you approach acai bowls in the colder winter months?
Having only been open for one winter, we are still learning and experimenting! Last winter, we added oatmeal to our menu—we made several dessert-inspired combinations including banana bread, pumpkin, almond butter and apple pie! We used our store made nut milks and almond butter in most of the recipes, which made them incredible.What’s your go-to breakfast?
A smoothie, or these days, pumpkin pancakes! Both can be made fairly quickly with simple, healthy ingredients! There are so many fun add-ins that make them tasty, too—cacao nibs, nut butters, chia seeds, matcha green tea powder, fruit, homemade nut milks… you name it! It’s also fun and easy to pack greens into smoothies in the morning.
What is your personal food philosophy?
I have tried a lot of food trends and I feel best when I don’t put labels or restrictions on what I eat (except for meat, which I have never really been into).
In general, I eat unprocessed, whole foods–my staples include whole grains, veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, beans, and Greek yogurt (I love it!). Other foods and sweets don’t generally appeal to me, but if I am craving something, I’ll eat it! I love experimenting with recipes to make healthy versions of all sorts of meals and desserts.
What did you do before opening BARE Bowls?
I graduated in 2013 and shortly after moved home to the Bay Area. Not finding the same health food stores and cafes that I was used to around Southern California, I wondered how a place like Palo Alto did not have anything similar.
I had a one-way ticket to New Zealand planned for that December, BUT I felt that the opportunity for BARE Bowls would not exist when I came back–that it was more important to take hold of the being a first mover in the area and hopefully still travel one day!What words do you live by?
It’s hard to choose just a few! If you are familiar with BARE Bowls on social media- we are all about quotes—they constantly inspire me! I try to live by quotes related to the present moment like:
“If you’re always racing to the next moment, what happens to the one you’re in?”
It reminds me to be present with people and how my actions and words can affect them. The present gives me perspective—the ability to see mistakes as learning experiences and see issues or problems that come about as opportunities to grow and change.
I also like:
“Enjoy the little things in life…for one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.”
This quote encourages me to wake up extra early on a long and busy day and drink my coffee slowly with no rush and no place to be (quite yet). To spend time with friends and family and to continually pursue the things I love doing. When work is tiring or stressful, I am reminded to be thankful for the opportunity to both work and pursue something that I am 100% passionate about.