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Published: Tuesday, 4/8/2008

Acai is new fruit flavor

The Acai berry ( ah-SI-see ) is a small, round, dark-purple berry from the Amazon palm tree. If it sounds familiar to you it may be because there are at least two companies which have added the berry to juice drinks, V8 V-Fusion s Acai Mixed Berry and the beverage Purple.

High in antioxidants, the berry is also high in omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids, fiber, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and zinc, according to The Juicing Bible, Second Edition by Pat Crocker (Robert Rose, $24.95).

I found the frozen berry puree at Claudia s Natural Food Market at 5644 Monroe St. It s a product that sells out weekly, according to Graeme Myerholtz of Claudia s. It s pureed, used for a smoothie, or for ice cream. It s used like a normal berry.

The Juicing Bible recommends cup acai juice (not the supplement) to every 2 cups smoothie.

The berry is available as dried pulp puree, bottled liquid pulp puree, and frozen whole or pureed berries. It adds a creamy texture and deep-purple color to juices.

Jennifer DeBacker of Claudia s knows of no local source for the berries, but the store also sells RW Knudson Organic Acai Berry Juice, which is 100 percent juice (besides acai berry juice, there s other juices such as cranberry, raspberry, and blackberry in the mix).

A serving size is 8 ounces. Don t get that confused with concentrated acai juice sold in bottles, which are labeled a supplement. Note that a juice is different than a liquid supplement, which is more concentrated and may be as little as a one-ounce serving size. Always read labels.

Purple Beverage Co. has combined seven antioxidant-rich juices in the Purple antioxidant beverage: black cherry, pomegranate, black currant, purple plum, cranberry, blueberry, and the acai berry. It is said to be all-natural and has no sugar added.

In March, V8 V-Fusion Acai Mixed Berry hit the supermarket shelves. It is the latest innovation from the makers of V8 vegetable juice, which is produced in Napoleon, Ohio, and is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

The original V8 was a health-oriented juice made during the Depression to get ways to get vegetables in the diet, says Juli Mandel Sloves, spokesman for Campbell Soup Co., the parent company.

While V8 is made with tomato paste, carrots, celery, red beets, spinach, lettuce, parsley, and watercress, the new generation of beverages has added fruits. V8 V-Fusion is a blend of vegetable and fruit juices that has been on the market since 2006. V-Fusion juices have a light, sweet taste with a full serving of vegetables and a full serving of fruit, plus antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E in an 8-ounce glass.

We know people want vegetables and not everybody wants a zesty taste, said Ms. Mandel Sloves in an interview at the plant. Besides the Acai Mixed Berry flavor, there are four other fruit combinations: Pomegranate Blueberry, Strawberry Banana, Tropical Orange, and Peach Mango.

The Purple Beverage Co. is promoting Purple Mixology, creating Purple cocktails such as a Purple Mojo, made with Purple, rum, lime juice, and simple syrup. The V8 V-Fusion juices are used in other foods. Among the recipes is Mango & Avocado Salad with Acai Berry Vinaigrette.

To make the vinaigrette, combine cup V8 V-Fusion Acai Mixed Berry juice, cup olive oil, cup balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 clove garlic (minced), and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Then spoon 2 tablespoons vinaigrette over each salad.

As for the very concentrated acai juice labeled as a supplement, the American Dietetic Association recommends frozen puree over supplements, according to ADA spokesman Susan Moores, a registered dietitian based in Minnesota.

Supplements may have been more processed and in that processing may have lost some of the healthful components, she says. Check with the processor on how to use the product.



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