July 24, 2013

Soup to Nuts: All juiced up

We're not just looking for a long, cool drink this summer. Our smoothies have to be green, and our sodas old-fashioned. Luckily, they're here.

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — Kathleen Flanagan is used to people coming into Roost House of Juice and saying "Don't give me something green."

At the Roost House of Juice in Portland, you can go green with The Governor, middle, and the North Woods, top; or opt for orange with Carrot Cake, right. Drinks made with vegetables are becoming increasingly popular.

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

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Craft sodas at Duckfat in Portland include Wild Cherry Phosphate, middle; Roots, Bark, Sticks and Leaves, left; and Orange Crush.

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer

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• Think about what you like in your favorite salad and throw the ingredients in the blender. That's what Kathleen Flanagan did with a salad she made with arugula, fennel, cut-up orange slices, and a lime vinaigrette. The result: the "Arugulita," the cafe's version of a margarita, served on the rocks with a salted rim.

• If you have fruit that's about to spoil, freeze it to use in your smoothies. Cut, frozen bananas will lend a creamy consistency to any green smoothie you make.

• If you're new to green smoothies, the easiest greens to start with are kale and spinach. They are mild and have a sweetness to them. As a general rule, try 60 percent fruit and 40 percent greens. Stay away from the superstrong flavors of arugula or beet greens.

• Start with a single leaf of kale, or a small handful of spinach, and work your way up from there. Those small amounts won't even color your smoothie, so you'll forget they're in there until you're ready to try something stronger. This is also a great trick for getting more greens into your kids.

• Rotate greens and try whatever's in season. A recent special at Roost House of Juice was made with blueberries and cilantro.

• If you're using herbs such as parsley, cilantro and mint, a little goes a long way.

• Certain kinds of fruits go better together because they balance the soluble and insoluble fibers in a drink. If you just put apples and blueberries together, the drink will be thinner and might separate. Throw in some banana, avocado or maybe a peach to give it a creamier consistency.

• What not to use: dandelion greens and mustard greens are super bitter. Best to leave those to advanced smoothie makers.

-- Meredith Goad

But these days, green is good.

The popularity of green juices and smoothies made with good-for-you greens like kale and spinach is soaring, thanks to all the attention they've gotten for being good for your eyes, your brain and just about every other body part.

"People are interested in experimenting because they know they're supposed to be eating kale," Flanagan said. "Everybody's talking about kale, kale, kale, that's the best thing for you. It's turned into the cool thing to eat more kale."

Summer is the time people want to try drinks that are healthier and more nourishing. Maybe it's partly because they are more conscious of maintaining a swimsuit-ready body. Maybe they want to save their calories for a round of gin-and-tonics with their friends in the evenings. Or maybe it's just that they want to counteract all that sugary hot chocolate they downed during the winter months.

Whatever the reason, Portland is lucky to have a lot of different options for healthful summer drinks, from the green drinks blended at juice bars like Roost House of Juice and the Maine Squeeze Juice Cafe to the kombuchas at Urban Farm Fermentory and the low-sugar craft sodas made with all natural, local ingredients at Duckfat.

The market for green juices "has really blown up," said Alex Vandermark, owner of the Maine Squeeze cafes and a juice bar in Portsmouth. Two of his biggest sellers right now are the Kale Storm and the Green Light, both of which contain kale and spinach, along with several kinds of fruit.

Vandermark has also noticed more people coming in and asking to add greens to the stores' fruit smoothies.

"When I first took over (the business), I was thinking I might take these (green drinks) off the menu," he said. "'These taste kind of bad.' But I think that now people are really, really into it. I'd say that the majority of customers that come into Maine Squeeze now are ordering the green smoothies."


Vandermark said he thinks that, in addition to people wanting to eat healthier, a lot of working people are simply pressed for time and want an easier, more efficient way to eat their vegetables.

"They don't have a lot of time because they're on their break, and they don't want to eat a salad or something behind the counter where they're working, but a smoothie they can handle," he said.

Flanagan and Jeannette Richelson, co-owners of Roost House of Juice, say that people are also more interested in the concept of using food as medicine and as a tool for counteracting the effects of processed foods on the body. Kale, for example, is related to broccoli, cabbage and brussels sprouts, is one of the highest-rated "superfoods" out there. It is believed to offer protection from cancer and help lower cholesterol.

"I think a lot of people are using food as a way to heal," said Richelson. "There's a lot out there about how kale is a superfood and how greens can provide more oxygen to your blood and be more cleansing and healing. And so I think a lot of people are starting to listen and notice how much your eating lifestyle can affect your health."


Another option growing in popularity is the old-fashioned soda, made with less sugar than modern-day drinks.

"It's picking up momentum," said chef Rob Evans, who researched the history of sodas and soda fountains to create a line of $3 craft sodas at his Middle Street restaurant Duckfat. "It's becoming popular. There's so many bad canned sodas, and it's a great alcohol alternative. I think the craft's coming back."

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Kathleen Flanagan, co-owner of the Roost House of Juice in Portland, whips up a concoction with greens. “Everybody’s talking about kale, kale, kale,” she says. Kale, which is related to broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, is one of the highest-rated “superfoods."

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer


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