Magazine article Sunset

Oh, So Smooth

Magazine article Sunset

Oh, So Smooth

Article excerpt

Next time you crave something cool, and refreshing, how about an Egyptian Punch with spirulina and protein powder? Or a little Hawaiian Lust with wheatgrass juice and calcium?

If these sound more like chemistry experiments than beverages. you may need a quick lesson on the coolest drinks around: smoothies.

At shops like Juice Club, a popular California-based chain, customers often arrive long before the stores open, hovering around locked doors in anticipation of a custom-blended fruit smoothie to start the day. Among the waiting crowd are people in exercise clothes on their way to and from workouts-and-ties bound for the office, high school and college students, and parents with infants in strollers.

Juice Club started as a single shop in San Luis Obispo, California, in 1990, when founder Kirk Perron recognized a need for low-fat, healthful food to enjoy after a workout. In just six years, Juice Club has mushroomed into a corporation with 18 stores from San Diego to the San Francisco Bay Area. But it isn't the only flourishing smoothie operation. Hundreds of other smoothie shops are also whirling their way across the West. What's behind this craze for blended fruit drinks?

Aaron Souza, co-owner of The Green Planet, a smoothie store in Davis, California, thinks that the smoothie hits all the '90s buzzwords--low-fat (though not always low-calorie), quick, and portable--attracting people on the go who are interested in a healthy lifestyle. And, indeed, The Green Planet is a frequent sponsor of community sport clubs and activities.

Admittedly, smoothies aren't new. Esther Samuelson, manager at Jungle Juices in Irvine, California, worked at a smoothie-and-sandwich shop 20 years ago. But she notes that today's smoothies are much thicker, and that they're often consumed as a whole meal instead of as a beverage. Another development Samuelson attributes to the smoothie-as-a-meal concept is that more stores offer nutritional "additions": you can customize drinks by adding nutrients you like or feel you need.

And the word smoothie isn't necessarily the term of choice anymore. At Gravity Bar, a vegetarian restaurant and juice bar in Seattle, owner Laurrien Gilman is serious about emphasizing smoothies' nutritional benefits. She prefers to call them juices, to indicate the freshness of their ingredients and to differentiate them from the bottled smoothies sold at grocery stores. With its sophisticated, modernistic decor, Gravity Bar's downtown store has successfully attracted the business crowd, giving a new definition to the term after-work drink.

As Gilman or anyone else who has ever made a smoothie will tell you, there's no big secret to it. You really don't need a recipe, and it's almost impossible to make a bad one.

Simply pick your favorite fruits (a combination of two or three kinds works well) and add a little juice (either the same kind as your fruit or one that you think will blend nicely) and, if desired, some low-fat milk, yogurt, or light ice cream. Whirl it all up in a blender until smooth, and you're done.

A smoothie makes a great breakfast or lunch on the run. You can even make one up the night before, freeze it, and take it with you the next day--by lunch it will be thawed and ready to drink. And smoothies are great to relax with at home, too. We offer the following six delicious smoothie combinations for inspiration, but don't stop there. Let your imagination and summer's bountiful fruit guide you.


Many smoothie shops offer "supplements" or "additions," including tofu, yogurt, wheat germ, calcium, kelp, bee pollen, amino acid powders, and rice, oat, and wheat brans.

The jury is still out on the nutritive value of some of the more exotic supplements. But if you're making smoothies at home and want to give them a boost, you'll find most of these items at well-stocked supermarkets or health food stores. …

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