Pros and cons of smoothies and juices
Photos by Shannon Cornman
Smoothies and juicing are delicious ways to add vitamins, fiber and other nutrients to your diet in the form of a meal or snack that can feel like a treat.
There are smoothie shops all across the 405, and when enjoyed responsibly, smoothies can sneak a day’s worth of fiber, good fats, protein and all sorts of vitamins into one satisfying slurp. Juicing is a little trickier to navigate, but armed with a little information and a dash of self-discipline, juicing also can be a healthful treat. But you’ve got to choose wisely.
“As a whole, smoothies and juices can serve a purpose in providing nutrients in your diet, but should be used in moderation,” says Kristen Forbes, RN, RDN and founder of Forbes Wellness. “A smoothie can take the place of an occasional meal, if it’s well-rounded. A good smoothie will give you protein, fiber, good fat and a dose of vitamins.”
Juicing has its die-hard proponents, and while Forbes agrees that it can give your diet a boost, the practice can also be unhealthy. “There are definite benefits of juicing, which are that they break down the nutrients from fruits and vegetables into a more absorbable form. Juicing also delivers nutrients in a higher concentration, which is easier on your digestion – but may be harder on your liver, depending on whether the ingredients are organic or if they have been treated with pesticides.” It makes sense that if a juice provides a concentrated dose of whatever is in the produce, that would be as true for pesticides as it is for vitamins.
Forbes warns that juicing can be sugar-laden, and that since the fiber’s been removed, juice won’t fill you up for long and may lead to a spike in blood sugar, followed by a hangry crash.
“Fiber blunts the blood sugar response and keeps us full, with our metabolism where it should be,” she says. “Juice is not what our bodies are designed to fuel on every day, so I wouldn’t recommend using juice in place of food, and I generally steer people clear of juice diets or juice fasts. But a couple of veggie-heavy juices used supplementally each week can boost vitamin intake. And if you’re the kind of person who will just not eat vegetables but you will drink a juice, then they can be beneficial.”
Mike Rhodes, co-owner of Organic Squeeze – with locations in Nichols Hills Plaza and (soon-to-be-reopened) Midtown – has been a fan of both genres since high school, and is doing his best to spread the word. “My family made a significant health change when I was in high school. My mother bought a juicer in the 1990s, and she literally threw out every cookie in the house,” he says, shaking his head and smiling with a dash of residual disbelief.
Rhodes and his siblings come from an entrepreneurial family, and Organic Squeeze is just a grownup version of the first business he opened as a teenager in Giddings, Texas. “We started the only drive-through snow cone shop in the area, Texas Sno-ball. We were very busy, partly because our dad told us we could open it but made it clear that we’d better have customers.” And they did: On the first day, they had more than 200 people lined up, ready for a cone.
Flash forward to 2013, when the siblings, along with their parents, experienced the same sort of fervor at the grand opening of Organic Squeeze, which saw thousands of people flooding Nichols Hills Plaza. It’s easy to make a big splash once, but the family’s sustained success is a function of a meticulous, all-encompassing obsession with smoothies.
“We spent a full year designing recipes,” Rhodes says. “My brother Robert, who has a real talent for that, experimented with thousands of variations.” The recipe for one of the shop’s most popular smoothies, the Cocoa Cashew Swirl, came to Robert in a dream. “He came in one day and said he’d had a dream about a smoothie recipe and that it was going to be a breakfast smoothie with oats and flaxseed in it,” he says. This is tricky, because the oats and flaxseed must be used in the exact right proportion and blended completely – otherwise the mixture is not smooth. (That rather goes against the idea.)
Another wildly popular choice, Rhodes said, is the Muscle Westbrook, a concoction of blueberry, banana, hemp protein, hemp powder, cocoa chips, almond milks and Himalayan salt. Westbrook himself has come in to sample his namesake smoothie and enjoyed it, but generally goes for the Cocoa Cashew Swirl. No word yet on whether a Caramel-o Anthony smoothie is in the works.
► Liquid Refreshment
Looking to get your smoothie on? Need some juicy goodness? Here are some stops to try:
Playfully named organic juices and smoothies are the name of the game here. Try the Up Beet, Green Giant or Butter Cup – or, if you’re feeling like your colon needs to be cleaned out, go for the 16-ounce bottle of Bentonite Clay, which is added to other beverages a tablespoon at a time, twice a day. If you dare.
The Earth Café & Deli
Local, organic and a part of the Norman community forever and a day, there are no quirkily named smoothies here; just a straightforward list of options, including “blueberry+mango.” There is, however, a concoction called the Dragonslayer: a mixture of garlic, lemon, ginger and habanero, which would quickly make me cry. 309 S Flood, Norman
Whole Foods Market
Not local, but definitely organic and a convenient choice if you’re struck by a smoothie or juice craving while filling your shopping cart. 6001 N Western, OKC
Wheeze the Juice
Cleverly housed in a building made from shipping containers, Wheeze the Juice offers smoothies, smoothie bowls, fresh juices and cold-pressed bottled juices.
► A Better Balanced Smoothie
Forbes enjoys a smoothie every now and again, but is careful about what she chooses to include. Her Superior Smoothie is full of fiber, protein, calcium and vitamins, plus it sounds delish, and is easy to whip up at home!
1 cup frozen berries
A handful of spinach, kale or other greens
1/3 to 1/2 avocado
1/2 cup full-fat plain Greek yogurt
Unsweetened almond milk
Blend and enjoy!