You may have seen a yellow vintage Shasta trailer moving around Champaign-Urbana (and beyond) and wondered why it is so popular
Maybe you’ve seen the lines formed around the trailer at the Urbana Farmers Market every Saturday morning and thought you should check it out.
If this isn’t all convincing enough, we’re sure that you’ve seen the Instagram-worthy pictures show up on your feed, featuring colorful, fruit-topped acai bowls that could make you drool.
Well, the answer is finally that you should be curious and you should know what it is all about.
Just BEE Acai was dreamed up by Monticello resident Emma Reinbold in the summer of 2019. If you are a regular around the Shasta, you know that Emma is often seen working and creating culinary confections alongside her family. Emma has a heart for the Central Illinois community and often partners with other local entrepreneurs in order to support your local everything.
You may be wondering: What is acai? Acai — pronounced ah-sigh-ee — comes from Brazilian rainforests and is a berry known for its strong antioxidants, amino acids, essential fatty acids, and nutritious qualities. One bite of the acai bowl, and you’re likely to be hooked. It’s an added bonus that there are significant nutritious benefits to the treat, as well.
If you are a first timer or have difficulty making decisions like I do, I suggest taking a peek at the menu before you arrive. This helps to narrow down your choices as there is often a line of people waiting behind you who will appreciate that you have done some early research. If you are still confused about what to order, Emma and her family are happy to give suggestions. They also offer a variety of loaded avocado toasts, seasonal overnight oats (hello, did someone say pumpkin pie overnight oats), chia seed puddings, and more. The most difficult decision for our family is deciding what NOT to order.
When you order your acai bowl, you are given your choice of a base to choose from. These typically include the blended acai berry base, pitaya (a dragonfruit base which is our youngest daughter’s favorite), and Blue Majik (a blend of pineapple, mango, coconut cream, and blue spirulina). This happens to be my husband’s favorite. If you are feeling truly adventurous, you can choose a layered mixture of any or all of these bases. My personal favorite is the acai blend.
If you thought you had some tough choices to make there, you’re in for a real treat as you pick from a variety of delicious toppings. Oh, the toppings! Choose between fresh fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, mango, kiwi, and pineapple. Add that to homemade granola, hand ground nut butters, coconut flakes, chia seeds, flax seed, hemp hearts, etc. Top that with a drizzle of locally produced honey and that is one of the signature toppings of Just BEE.
Luckily Emma has several tried and true bowl combinations ready if you have difficulty deciding like we did as first time patrons. My personal favorite is the bee nutty, and I find myself craving it. The combination of the acai blend, fruit, and hand ground peanut butter is just a treat that I can’t wait to enjoy. My husband is a little bit more adventurous and tries something new each time we order. He looks forward to creating a new treat each time that we visit the Shasta. Our girls have their favorites, as well.
One offering that we have particularly enjoyed during the past year is an at-home delivery option. Act fast on Monday evening once slots open for delivery to secure your spot. Then, be on the lookout for your order to arrive on Friday morning — just in time for the weekend. The home delivery features everything you might need to create your own bowls at home such as goji berries, cacao nibs, homemade granola (even gluten free varieties), flaxseed, honey, and hand-ground peanut and almond butters. Deliveries are available in one-quart and two-quart options. One quart of the base provides enough for 4-5 bowls so plan accordingly.
We recently celebrated a birthday in our house and had not yet tried the acai cakes. Our family thought that this would be the perfect way to celebrate a birthday with a fun and unique treat. We ordered the cake early in the week and it was delivered, ready to go, to our doorstep by the weekend. We added the candles and the rest of the beauty of the cake spoke for itself. When ordering, we had our choice of many of the bowls available on the truck in a cake form. Decisions, decisions.
If this has you craving an acai bowl or home delivery, keep an eye on Just BEE Acai’s Facebook page or website as they announce the location of the Shasta trailer here for the upcoming week. They often frequent campus, the Urbana Farmers Market, downtown Champaign, Monticello, Mahomet, Carle Foundation Hospital, and the Stephens Family YMCA parking lot to name a few. They also work with patrons to plan special events, private parties, showers, weddings, and other events.
Just when we thought that we couldn’t love Just Bee any more than we already did, Emma and her sister Cassie decided to start another foodie journey, Butter Babes Co. They are creating their own hand-ground nut butters and Nola spreads that make toasts, drizzles, waffles, or my personal favorite — spoonfuls of goodness. With every butter purchased, 10 percent of the profits will be given back to other local businesses in the community.
Each month, they will feature another local entrepreneur by allowing them to create a nut butter flavor of their choice which can be purchased on the website. The business will be featured on their social media channels, and the money raised will help to support the community. To make it even better, their Nola butter is 100 percent nut-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free.