Here’s a way to add a burst of sunshine to your life — and your diet — during the chilly, rainy month of March: Enjoy the benefits of citrus, an optimal source of immune-boosting vitamin C, by squeezing your favorites into a juice or smoothie.
Go to your local grocery store in March and you’ll find an abundance of sweet, pink-fleshed Cara Cara oranges, ruby grapefruit, limes and tangerines.
“We’re in peak citrus season now — these seasonal varieties add a pop of color and a burst of flavor to this time of year,” said Christina Ward, senior director of Sunkist Growers, a farmer-owned cooperative based in California. “Additionally, as people look for ways to eat healthy and stay healthy, citrus offers a variety of nutrients that support the immune system.”
“Smoothies are a quick alternative as a meal replacement. Try to choose a smoothie under 500 calories and with at least 10 grams of protein,” advises Andrea Metcalf, a certified personal trainer and nutritionist, and co-owner of Heat 3-0 Pilates Studio.
“I also like smoothie bowls – smoothies mixed with granola, chopped fruit, nuts and other healthy additions – because they have to be eaten with a spoon and not just swallowed. There is evidence that chewing promotes satiety more than drinking.”
We visited seven Chicago smoothie and juice bars to sample some fruity goodness.
Here are our seven picks for citrus-fueled smoothies—one for each day of the week:
Spirulina Grapefruit: A sour mix of grapefruit, banana, goji berries, hemp seeds and spirulina, a blue-green algae rich in B vitamins. Chicago Raw, 51 W. Huron St.; Chicagorawfood.com
Polly Gaza, who owns Chicago Raw with her daughter Margo, believes that your body is a fireplace: “You have to give it the highest quality fuel for it to burn the strongest for the longest.” Founded in 2009 as a place to help others take control of their health, one meal at a time, the to-go restaurant serves mostly “raw” food – made with plant-based ingredients, primarily fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, which are not heated above 118 degrees, thus maintaining the highest nutritional content. The 10+ smoothies on the menu feature more unusual star ingredients like goji berries and lucuma, a beta-carotene-rich Peruvian superfruit.
Spicy Pilsner: A refreshing blend of orange, carrot and pineapple juice with a kick of cayenne. Juice House, 1324 W. 18th St.; facebook.com/juicehousepilsen/
Walk into the colorful Juice House in the heart of Pilsen and you’ll hear several blenders buzzing with deliciousness. The smoothies, juices and acai bowls here are fresh and made to order, and the cozy interior makes it an excellent place to sit and sip for a while. “My go-to smoothie is Curious George,” said owner Alicia Zouzaneas. “It’s also one of our customer favorites. It’s made with coconut milk, bananas, blueberries, peanut butter and a spoonful of honey. Delicious!”
The red line: Coconut mixed with beetroot, green grapes, apples, lemon, ginger and strawberries; and The blue line: coconut water mixed with mango, bananas, pineapple, apples and spirulina. The Smoothie Joint, 948 W. Newport Ave.; thesmoothiejoint.com
At the Smoothie Joint in Lake View, there’s a fruit and vegetable-packed smoothie for every CTA train line. “I feel like the CTA train lines are Chicago’s veins, and Smoothie Joint is similarly connected to the veins and entire body of Chicago,” said owner Telesha Christopher, “as we provide daily goodness through natural sugar and dairy-free smoothies that can reach everyone’s veins .” Beyond smoothies, Smoothie Joint also makes and delivers colorful fruit bouquets and freshly squeezed bottled juices, including the popular “Chicago Cleanse,” six juices named after six CTA lines.
Twisted banana pudding: A hemp protein powered smoothie with bananas, vanilla coconut yogurt, vanilla bean, cinnamon, almond milk, agave and seaweed; and Twisted Peach Cobbler, a peach vegan yoghurt and almond milk base mixed with peach, oats, cinnamon, seaweed and hemp protein. Smoothie RX, 1503 S. Michigan Ave. smoothierxchicago.com.
Smoothie RX bills itself as Chicago’s “elite” smoothie and juice bar, noting, “We start with all organic, non-GMO whole fruits and vegetables, and use a cold-press process to extract every last drop of nutrients. Since we don’t use a traditional juicing process, there is no heat from the motor, which keeps your nutrients intact.” It’s also the only smoothie bar in town that has ‘shmmmakes’, rich protein-fuelled smoothies, on the menu.
Purple Rain: A deep purple blend of yogurt, blueberries, strawberries and cupuaçu, a chocolaty, nutrient-dense fruit native to Brazil. Fruit Paradise, 2355 N. Milwaukee Ave.; fruitparadisechicago.com.
“We enjoy working out and eating clean and healthy,” said Gabriella Ortiz, owner of Fruit Paradise in Logan Square, “and sharing our love of healthy living with our community.” This fruit-focused eatery boasts the most smoothies on the menu, 35+ inventive concoctions, plus empanadas and over 40 different types of smoothie bowls. Feeling under the weather? Fruit Paradise’s “Fight the Flu” smoothie contains immune-boosting vitamin C with the blend of acerola, guava, broccoli, apple, ginger, cayenne pepper and banana.
Just Beet It: A ruby red vegan and dairy-free blend of strawberries, bananas, apples, oranges, beet juice powder and camu-camu, a Peruvian-grown superfruit rich in vitamin C. Left Coast Food + Juice, 151 N. Franklin St.; leftcoastfood.com.
Left Coast Food + Juice’s motto is: “Healthy food can be both delicious and convenient when done right.” Their smoothies and cold-pressed juices are made with premium fruits with recipes developed by award-winning Chicago chef Paul Kahan. The all-day menu also includes salads, wraps and cereal bowls. Founders Michael and Jamie Madden, who met on the West Coast, came up with a healthier take on fast-casual dining after Jamie was diagnosed with a number of food allergies. Back on the Third Coast, they had a hard time finding tasty, affordable and healthy food, so in 2016 they opened their first Left Coast location at 878 N. Lincoln Ave. in Lakeview) followed by their sunny Loop location in 2017.
Mint Matcha Chip: An indulgent smoothie blend of homemade Brazil nut milk, bananas, coconut meat, matcha, avocado, lucuma, spirulina, chlorella, peppermint, cocoa nibs, a hint of maple syrup and collagen, crowned with a coconut-hazelnut cocoa. Hi-Vibe Superfood Juicery, 160 W. Kinzie St.; facebook.com/HiVibeChicago.
Amp up the vibe at this River North outpost known for superfood smoothies and acai bowls. Start your day with a smoothie or one of the many healthier coffees on the menu, including keto coffee with MCT oil and grass-fed butter and a vanilla coffee with a boost of collagen.