Talking Big Island Bowls with Brendan Schneck
1. Tell us about Big Island Bowls.
Big Island Bowls is dedicated to spreading the Aloha Spirit and healthy, tasty eating habits to the Jacksonville and St. Augustine areas. The idea for Big Island Bowls first came about while my fiancee and I were living on the Big Island of Hawaii teaching garden therapy to at-risk youth. Our approach to working with teenagers who were going through a rough, transitional moment was very similar to Outward Bound, with the focus being on rehabilitation through growing and eating your own food. We were surprised how the food these teenagers ate directly influenced their behavior. This began our interest with the health food movement and trying to provide an organic choice for the foodies of Jacksonville.
2. What type of food do you serve?
Our focus is on good tasting food that has an added health benefit. While Acai Bowls are our main focus, Big Island Bowls also specializes in cold and healthy drinks such as coconut water and Yerba Mate, which is a South American tea, served over ice, and possessing countless health benefits.
3. What’s an Acai Bowl?
Acai is the fruit from the acai palm found only in Brazil. An Acai Bowl is a meal made up of Acai blended with banana, strawberries and either almond milk or apple juice. Most Bowls also have granola and honey, although you can order them without.
Acai Bowls were originally native to Brazil but their popularity has spread to the islands of Hawaii, mostly due to the influence of traveling surfers. Acai Bowls can now be found on all of the Hawaiian islands, mostly at small shacks specializing in these cold and tasty delicacies. We believe the Big Island really has embodied this food to make it a special treat of their own, which is why we say our Bowls are "made in Brazil, perfected on the Big Island.”
4. Is a Bowl a full meal and are there different sized bowls?
They are full meals, unlike a smoothie which will make you hungry just a few hours later. And all bowls come in one size.
5. What's a Big Island Bowl?
The classic Big Island Bowl is a blend of frozen acai, frozen bannana and frozen strawberry with either organic apple juice or unsweetened almond milk. It is then layered with granola and topped with fresh cut bananas, all drizzled in honey.
6. What’s your granola made from?
It’s a secret recipe! There are no nuts but we do use oats, which contain gluten. For gluten senstive people we offer a seperate gluten free granola for a small upcharge, or you can choose to get it with cashews and almonds instead of oats.
7. What’s your most popular Bowl?
The Shaka or Mana Kea Bowl. The Shaka has strawberries and shredded coconut which looks and tastes beautiful. Mana Kea has blueberries, bananas and cacao nibs, which are the purest form of chocolate.
8. Can you recommend a Bowl that’s a little different?
I enjoy the Outrigger Bowl with shredded coconut. I really like pineapple and I think the shredded coconut complements it particularly well.
9. What’s your favorite Bowl?
While all the Bowls are good, I find my tastes change as the seasons change. We had some amazing local strawberries this year and the blueberries we were getting from Georgia were out of this world.
10. Can you tell us about a few of the special toppings you offer for the Bowls?
Sure! There are so many different toppings you can choose from to add some real health benefits to your meal. Bee pollen is great to boost your immune system, chia seeds are a runners best friend, hemp hearts are one of the best proteins around, goji berries are packed with anti-oxidants and also add a really good, chewy sensation that mixes well with granola. My favorite seems to be Maca root, which increases sexual stamina and overall energy levels for good mana!
11. How did you decide on the various Bowl combinations and toppings?
Mostly trial and error…trial and delicious error!
12. What's "Loaded Honey?"
It’s a Bowl with a lot of honey for the sweet tooths!
13. What's Yerba Mate?
Yerba Mate tea is a tea from Argentina that is traditionally served hot out of a gourd. It contains all 20 essential vitamins and minerals and produces a clear focused energy. It is consumed 9-1 over coffee in Argentina and doesn’t leave you with the jittery energy associated with coffee. While coffee interacts with the nervous system and is very acidic, Yerba Mate interacts with the muscle tissue and actually soothes the muscles while also being very alkaline. Our version of Yerba Mate tea is served cold and ready to drink over ice.
14. Do people typically order a Yerba Mate with their Bowl?
The two work very well together. Since Yerba Mate has a natural appetite suppressant and focused energy quality, drinking one with your Bowl will ensure that you have plenty of energy to get through your day without feeling bogged down or heavy.
15. What's Florida Ti Yerba Mate?
Florida Ti is a separate company that produces our blend of Yerba Mate mixed with whole stevia leaf. Florida Ti Yerba Mate is much less bitter than the traditional variety and contains no calories, carbs or sugar.
16. Can you order Florida Ti Yerba Mate to make at home?
It’s in the process of being bottled and will be available in most health food stores sometime in September .
17. Who's the audience for Big Island Bowls?
We’re targeting anyone who is conscious of healthy eating choices and is looking for a tasty meal replacement that can give them the energy to get them through whatever it is that drives their passion.
18. How did you come up with the idea of creating a food truck around your Bowls?
I love the food truck movement and think that providing a quick, affordable gourmet meal is going to be the way of the future. Food Truck Revolution! The food truck just seemed like a great way for me to bring our message to a large number of people. We want everyone to not just eat our bowls and love them, but spread the positive message we are trying to convey.
19. Is your goal to expand your menu beyond Bowls?
Acai Bowls will always be our focus, but we are always on the lookout for great new additions to help our customers eat better.
20. Do you have set locations?
On Wednesdays we are located at the St. Augustine farmers market at Pier Park and on Saturdays we’re at the St. Augustine farmers market at the Amphitheater. We do occasionally make it into Jacksonville as well, although we don’t have regular locations there.
21. Anything else?
Just that we are really passionate about providing a great product that helps our customers live a healthier, more fufilled life. We want to spread love and happiness to everyone we come in contact with. We believe that positive intentions and helping others should be the ultimate currency in life. On the front of our truck reads Aloha Ke Akua which translates roughly to God is Love and that is what we truly believe.