Bryan Leong and Stephanie Wang met as undergrads at USC. Like many college students, they were hungry. Unhappy with the dining options at hand, in 2013, they took matters into their own hands. “We just wanted to eat something more healthy, and it was really difficult for us to find something healthy that was affordable,” Leong says.
So, into the kitchen they went. “We decided, let’s make something really healthy and delicious within our skill set,” says Leong. “We don’t have any culinary background of any sort. It was just a lot of trial and error to find something that we really enjoy.”
The result was Amazebowls, an acai and smoothie bowl franchise that began as a purple food truck at USC and has expanded to also include a spot at the Downtown L.A. Smorgasburg, a storefront in the Arts District and a recently launched partnership with Kitchen United in Pasadena that gives diners delivery or pickup options.
What’s in the bowls? Leong’s and Wang’s backgrounds played a part. Leong is from Malaysia and grew up with a lot of tropical fruit and southeast Asian flavor. Wang is Chinese American, and says her family’s tradition is to have “a whole array of foods for every meal.”
One major goal was not to include any added sugars, and their first creation was the classic Amazebowl. “If you look on our menu or our website,” says Wang, “the ingredients that we put in the bowl are listed in order, transparent and honest, because we want to showcase that there’s nothing to hide.” The bowls include no honey, agave, concentrated juices or other sweeteners. Some even include veggies (that we promise your kids will never detect).
You can eat them as a meal, but the thick, creamy base tastes more like dessert. “We really wanted to replicate the ice cream or frozen yogurt feeling,” Leong says. His favorite bowl is the Blue Bowl, made with blue spirulina algae that adds superfood nutrients and vibrant blue color. “Before you even start eating it, it really just lifts up your mood and livens up your day,” he says.
Wang’s favorite is the Dragon Bowl Z, with a natural pink color that comes from the dragon fruit base. “It tastes like a strawberry lemonade, but a very healthy version of strawberry lemonade without all the added sugar,” she says. She tops hers with Amazebowls house-made granola and nut butter, and plenty of fruit.
She says kids will love this sweet potato bowl – and that it’s a fun way to give them a nutritional boost. “The blend of sweet potatoes and bananas and the dates, with that added touch of sweetness, tastes so good,” she says. “And the texture is creamy.” It’s also easy to make, though Leong says a high-powered blender will help. Wang and Leong say their favorite brand of store-bought granola is Nature’s Path, which they used at Amazebowls before they started making their own.
“Everyone loves something sweet,” Wang says. Our mission has always been encouraging people to explore other ways to get that sweetness without having to compromise on your health.”
Sweet Potato Smoothie Bowl from Amazebowls
2 medium sweet potatoes
2 frozen bananas
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 tablespoon peanut butter (optional)
3 different types of fruit of your choice, diced
½ cup granola
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Using a fork, poke several holes all over the sweet potatoes, place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, or until soft. Set aside to cool completely.
Once they are cool, peel and mash the sweet potatoes.
Measure 1 cup of sweet potato mash and add to the container of a blender. Add the frozen bananas and chia seeds, and blend until smooth.
Transfer the contents of the blender to a serving bowl, top with the granola and diced fruit and serve.
Amazebowls has partnered with Elias Produce to provide daily pick up and home delivery, bringing fresh fruit, vegetables and other household items to your door through its Mobile Grocery. Amazebowls has also created a new line of granola flavors (Earl Grey, Espresso, Banana Bread, Vanilla Almond, and Pumpkin Tahini), as well as an Acai Bowls At Home Kit that includes everything you need to make four Amazebowls at home – fruit blends, acai packets, housemade almond milk and toppings.