Food and Drink

A perfect antidote to Christmas cookies and peppermint lattes, with an Alaska twist

We were lucky to visit family in Hawaii over the Thanksgiving holiday, and that’s where my son Leo became obsessed with acai smoothie bowls, which seemed to be available everywhere we turned. I couldn’t fault him for it. It is pretty refreshing and glorious to spoon up cold, dark, sweet-sour mouthfuls full of fresh berries and crunchy granola.

Coming back to wintertime Alaska, we looked in the freezer during a recent bowl craving and decided to try making smoothie bowls with some of the berries we’d picked over the summer. We had blueberries, raspberries, high bush cranberries and black currants. It turned out, they were great. Just the thing you need when you’ve been on a steady diet of Christmas cookies and peppermint mochas.

My son liked the blueberry bowl the best, though he remains attached to using them with the acai puree we found in the freezer section at Carrs. I got enamored with the most Alaska flavored berries — the high-bush cranberries that have that little funk to them and the black currants with their inky color and specific tang. I’d love to see what would happen with some bright orange salmonberries. I’m also curious about throwing in some herbs like basil.

A few notes: We added unflavored collagen powder to give it a little extra body, but that’s optional. One of the cooler things we also tried was to spread a big scoop of nut butter on the bottom of the bowl before pouring the smoothie on top. You can experiment with all kinds of combos, including using part store bought and part wild berries. The banana gives it a lot of sweetness, so be conservative when drizzling honey on top. If you use frozen bananas, which I often do, you may need a little more milk to get the blender turning.

Alaska Wildberry Smoothie Bowl

Servings: 1

1 cup any combination frozen Alaska wild berries


1 small banana or half a large banana

1/3 cup regular or non-dairy milk (if you are using a frozen banana, you may need up to 1/2 cup milk)

Optional: 2 tablespoons vanilla or unflavored collagen or protein powder

Optional: 1 tablespoon nut butter


Fresh berries

Sliced banana

Chia seeds

Flax seeds

Toasted coconut

Sliced almonds


Alaska honey

Method: Add berries, banana, milk and optional protein powder to a high-powered blender. Blend on medium-high for 90 seconds or more, until the mixture is a uniform color and texture. Spread the nut butter, if using, across the bottom of a wide shallow bowl. Spoon smoothie mixture on top and garnish with fruit, nuts, seeds and honey. Enjoy immediately.

Julia O'Malley

Anchorage-based Julia O'Malley is a former ADN reporter, columnist and editor. She received a James Beard national food writing award in 2018, and a collection of her work, "The Whale and the Cupcake: Stories of Subsistence, Longing, and Community in Alaska," was published in 2019. She's currently writer in residence at the Anchorage Museum.