Admit it: kale poured out of a blender is probably pretty low on your list of things you'd like to suck through a straw while strolling through your local mall. And while many of the smoothies at Jamba Juice use fruit juice as a base, this month, they're trying their hand at a new nutritional focus. The chain has rolled out three new smoothies that start with whole fruits and vegetables, like kale paired with mangoes and carrots with chia seeds and oranges.
Could Jamba Juice pull off this fibrous endeavor and come up with something enjoyable to drink? We tasted our way through the lineup and were surprised by the results.
Carrot Orange Fusion
Despite the name, you'll find more than just carrots and oranges in the Carrot Orange Fusion smoothie. Bananas, mangoes, chia seeds, soy milk, and nonfat Greek yogurt are all swimming in the pool, adding a range of flavors to complement the orangey-carrot base. The carrots, pureed to a paste (with the odd pebble-sized chunk slipping through), add a lot of fibrous material to the drink, so much so that you'll be able to chew on it a little. Thankfully, the initial weirdness wears off after a few sips, leaving a lightly sweet, filling smoothie that we enjoyed.
If you've looked around at all these last few years, you've probably seen raw kale salads and a fair number of kale chips, but it's a risky ingredient in a smoothie—kale can turn drinks into scary-bitter concoctions pretty fast. But the folks at Jamba Juice were smart enough to pair the aggressive green with passion fruit-mango juice, which cuts the bitterness considerably. Drinking this smoothie is a curious experience. The kale hits your taste buds first, in all its chlorophyll-packed glory, eliciting a momentary what have I got myself into? response before the passion fruit/mango and Greek yogurt combo saves the day with a mellow sweetness and bright tartness that goes down easy. The texture is more grainy than super-smooth, but with a full cup of kale in every smoothie, at least you can tell your mom you ate your veggies.
PB Chocolate Love
This one seems an odd choice for Jamba Juice's inaugural line of healthier smoothies—no kale or carrots here, just bananas and Quaker whole grains, blended with peanut butter, milk, and Jamba's Chocolate Moo'd Base to form what at first glance could pass for a milkshake. Despite some occasional grit from the whole grains, this has the smoothest texture of the three new beverages. Flavorwise, the chocolate and peanut butter flavors are a bit muted, with hints of banana coming in. It doesn't taste super-sweet, but still clocks in at 480 calories for a small. It was our favorite of the three, tastewise, but then again, we love milkshakes, too.
Have you tried these new options at Jamba Juice? What did you think?
About the author: Adam Lindsley is a Pacific Northwest-based writer, musician, and the author of the pizza blog, This Is Pizza. You can follow him at @ThisIsPizza on Twitter. He is currently searching for the recipe for Boneyard Beer's RPM IPA, so if you have a lead, get in touch!