Bowl'd Creations Of Madison: A Healthful Indulgence Comes East

These acai bowls from our latest profile in our food truck series will bowl you over

The Madison area has San Diego to thank for its newest – and possibly most healthful – food truck.

Town native Justin McLaughlin was living and working in the sunny coastal community a few years ago when he noticed people walking around everywhere eating acai bowls – a treat made with a base of pureed acai berry and topped with fruits, granola and coconut. He was soon hooked.

"I had my acai stand where I'd get my cup of coffee and my acai bowl, then I'd hit the water or hit work."

The acai berry, harvested from acai palms native to Central and South America, is said to have myriad health benefits, being low in sugar and high in fiber, antioxidants and essential fatty acids.

"It's really healthy, really good for you. It might not look like too much but it's going to fill you up for the day," McLaughlin says. "It makes you feel great."

When he returned home to Connecticut, he missed his daily indulgence. So did his friend Jonathan Bone, who'd also lived in Southern California for several years. McLaughlin suggested offhandedly that they ought to launch their own food truck selling the fresh-fruit specialties.

"Jon, just being the person he is, said, 'Yeah. Yeah, that'll work," he says. "Within two days I got [multiple] texts and emails of trucks he had found on Craigslist."

"If I'm going to do something, let's just do it," Bone says. "The more you sit and talk about it, it'll never end up getting done."

The two spent several months preparing the former coffee truck for a spring 2015 debut, upgrading its generator and hiring an artist friend to paint its colorful, whimsical exterior featuring grinning fruits. Bowl'd Creations has been serving Madison since late April, parking regularly on Academy Street and also appearing at the Branford Alps Farmers Market, the Farmers Market at Ashlawn Farms in Lyme and the Guilford Green.

The daily menu features five types of acai bowls, which start with a puree of frozen acai berries, almond milk and a few additional berries for sweetness. These are then topped with a variety of fresh fruits, granola, cacao, goji berries, chia seeds and other healthful ingredients. A classic bowl features strawberries and bananas; a Nutty version adds extra protein with peanut butter and the "Maui Wowie" and "Kiwi's Playhouse" creations go exotic with kiwi, pineapple and mango.

Smoothies were another natural addition to the truck, Bone says, because they'd already invested in blenders to pulse the acai berry blend. It's also been a way to minimize waste with fresh produce, as they're able to freeze leftover fruit for the beverages.

Like the bowls, Bone and McLaughlin came up with catchy names to advertise the smoothies: "Purple Rain" with acai, blueberries, mango, ginger and almond milk; "Mango #5" with mango, pineapple, banana and honey and "Hartford Kaler" with pineapple, kale, banana and coconut water. Bowl'd also sells Greek yogurt parfaits with fruit and granola and coffee from Ashlawn Farms, complete with frozen coffee cubes for the iced brew.

As acai bowls are a new concept in Connecticut, McLaughlin and Bone acknowledge there's been a learning curve with the truck, but say customers are responding well and returning often.

"People seem to, at least here, in Madison, [start] to understand it and [they're] getting adventurous trying the different bowls," Bone says. "A lot of customer interaction is education, letting them know about the health benefits. Sometimes people say 'Oh, that sounds really interesting, I'll come back.' And they usually do end up coming back another day…Four or five days a week, [customers are down] here."

Bowl'd Creations parks regularly on Madison's Academy Street and other assorted shoreline locations. Information:; @bowldcreations.

Look for a profile of a new food truck each week through summer in Thursday's CTNow section, and follow the series, with photos and video, at

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