Yeah, I know. Juicing is the most incredible invention ever–it will clear up your skin, detox your organs, make you lose weight, cure cancer and get you virginally impregnated with Krishna’s son.
But I don’t like it! I like eating my kale and spinach instead of drinking it. (When did this become a radical stance?) And I just don’t understand how throwing out all the fibrous pulp, seeds and other nutritional goodness is supposed to be good for me. Plus, have you ever tried to clean one of those juice machines? It’s a nightmare, I tell you.
My stance could change, but for now, I am in the smoothie camp.
Oh my God, smoothies. They are the best. You can make them up in your blender in a few minutes using all sorts of fun and nutritious ingredients (Kombucha! Chia seeds! Frozen goji berries!) or buy them at a bajillion places around the city for an on-the-go, virtuous snack.
The thing is, the smoothie’s strength of masking ingredients inside a delicious purple or pink frozen concoction is also its downfall. Many smoothie places, like the ubiquitous Jamba Juice–and certainly McDonald’s–make their smoothies with pre-made, sugary syrups of a mysterious provenance. Plus, Jamba Juice smoothies come in a polystyrene cup.
So choose your smoothie purveyors carefully! Here are four that stack up:
Liquiteria is located at 2nd Avenue and 11th Street, and they are opening up two new locations this summer and fall, in Chelsea and Union Square. A favorite of the East Village health nut crowd, it claims to be the first cold-pressed juice experience in NYC. The cheerful, vaguely California/Tropical tiled storefront has floor-to-ceiling windows that open out to the sidewalk on a nice day, and efficiency that moves the sometimes 10-deep line through in a snap. You barely have time to fall into a reverie watching the surfer videos before a cheerful employee is awaiting your order.
I’ve had the Killer X–with apple, lemon, ginger and Immunity Now–when I was fighting off a cold, and the Royal Flush–pineapple, pear, ginger, liver kidney lymph detox, and aloe vera–when I was hungover, but what I really go for are the smoothies. If I’m famished, I’ll get a Bulldozer. With banana, peanut butter, vanilla soy milk and chocolate whey protein, it’s so filling I can never even finish it. But if I need something refreshing, I usually grab a Berry Powerful or Power Pina Colada.
Recently, Liquiteria has gone through a menu revamp (though the employees are as cheerful, alternative and seemingly overeducated for their position as ever) and they’ve added a more expensive but enticing new smoothie, the Deep Blue Acai.
Oh, how I miss having this smoothie place in my neighborhood. When I lived a few blocks north of it on the Upper West Side in my naive, right-out-of-college years, I would assuage my Brother Jimmy’s-induced hangovers with an Antioxidant All-Star in a biodegradable cup. Or I would make a run to the one near my old Hell’s Kitchen office for an apple crumb muffin. If I’m near the one in the West Village, I’ll always try to stop by and grab a peanut butter acai bowl.
Juice Generation’s production facility has just been certified as organic by the USDA, and it’s one of the restaurants participating in Bloomberg’s food waste challenge. They compost the pulp from their juices, and support locally grown produce when possible.
Now I’ve been eagerly eyeing the new Gramercy location on 23rd that’s under construction, peeking in every time I pass in the hopes it will be open before smoothie weather is over. With 10 locations, though, if you live in Manhattan, there’s probably one near you.
I must have been out of the loop, because this juice and smoothie place just made it onto my radar a few months ago. You get what you pay for with these expensive treats, with 100% organic everything, unless there is a shortage, during which they’ll inform you. Non of this namby-pamby “organic whenever possible” stuff, as the founder has made clear.
There are 13 locations in hip neighborhoods, including one in Williamsburg and a couple in upstate New York, serving up raw, unpasteurized juices, smoothies and healthy snacks, with ingredients like spirulina, raw maca and hemp seeds. This is the place to go if you are a hard core juicer. I tried one of their smoothies and after the sticker shock ($9 all the way up to $15 for 17 ounces), I enjoyed it, though it was a little chunky. If you’re a hard care health nut, I think chunky is a good sign.