Millennials spend much of their days in motion, but they’re not powered by the fast food of yesterday. For young professionals, mealtimes call for delicious, healthy choices that charge them up without weighing them down as they zoom between obligations.
Enter the smoothie, a once humble mix of blended produce that’s being elevated to a culinary art form by an exciting new wave of chefs. We spoke with two restaurant industry insiders at the forefront of the trend.
“Sometimes you just want to have a bit more energy to get to the next meal,” says Michael Madden, CEO of Chicago-based Left Coast Food + Juice, which has three locations. “You want to go to that spin class later, so you’re not going to fill up on a hot dog and cheese fries. A smoothie is perfect for those times.”
Working with award-winning chef James Kahan, Left Coast spent months developing recipes designed to make the healthiest ingredients taste great.
“There are a lot of subtle sub-recipes behind what we do to make things taste better,” Madden explains. “Take kale, for example. Nobody likes kale. Cows barely like kale. It’s really tough. So we soak ours in a citrus bath before we do anything with it.”
The end result is the Kale Mary, a popular choice that tames the roughage with blueberry, avocado, orange juice, maca powder, agave and apple cider vinegar. It shares the menu with a half-dozen smoothies, ranging from Mornin’ Buzz (espresso, cacao, peanut butter, maca powder, banana) to Pina Cocada (coconut butter, pineapple, coconut milk, banana, citrus, sea salt).
Nir Caspi, co-owner of Café Landwer, an Israeli chain of gourmet cafés, has seen plenty of enthusiasm for his gourmet smoothies in the company’s new Boston location.
“Our smoothies are vegan, of course, and we see that here in Boston [that] veganism and vegetarianism [are] growing,” Caspi says. “The reaction has been amazing.”
The café offers two unique smoothies that draw on the eclectic flavors of the Mediterranean, the Spirulina Smoothie and the Mediterranean Energy Shake.
“Spirulina is a superfood, and we make those smoothies with mango, banana and almond milk,” he explains. “The Mediterranean Energy Shake has tahini, banana, date and soymilk.”
Both benefit from the addition of a vegan honey made from dates called silan.
“When we want to make it a bit sweeter, but want to keep it vegan, we use date honey,” Caspi says. “It’s very popular in Israel.”