The Real Foodie

Category: Juice Bars

Young Coconut Smoothie

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At around the same time as I read the Body Ecology Diet in 2007, where I learned about making fermented coconut pudding (by blending coconut meat with coconut water and adding a culture), I was introduced to blended coconut water and coconut meat smoothies by Melvin, the legendary juice man who used to work at my local health food store in New York City, Lifethyme Market and has now gone on to open two of his own juice bars. Melvin also introduced me to the idea of adding greens to the coconut, such as kale, chard and collard greens, so I would get my greens and healthy fat (to absorb the vitamins), all in one. It also tasted divine.

Ever since then, young coconut smoothies, either pure or mixed with greens, have been a part of my regular health routine. When I started weaning my daughter, puréed coconut meat was one of the first foods I gave her and she loved it. Sometimes I buy my own coconuts and make smoothies at home, or if I am in a rush I will buy a smoothie at one of my local juice bars. Now that I live in Miami where coconuts grow (!) I buy coconuts from my guys, Kokonut Kreationz at Glaser Farmers’ Market, or I will buy a coconut smoothie from Jugo Fresh. When I am in Jamaica, a local man named Lindsay delivers coconuts to us (the gorgeous yellow dwarf variety coconuts pictured above) or I get them delivered from Pantrepant Farm or buy them at a roadside fruit stall. In New York I go to Juice Press or Organic Avenue where they make and bottle coconut smoothies and call it ‘coconut milk’. Wherever I am, I’m never without my coconut smoothie.

How to make young coconut smoothie:

Select a fresh young coconut. If you don’t live in a tropical climate where coconuts grow, you can buy 100 percent certified organic packaged young Thai coconut meat and bottled water from Exotic Superfoods. Though not as fresh, they are the only certified organic young coconut meat source in the U.S and Thai coconuts are more flavourful. Do not buy the Thai coconuts you find in health food stores which have the husk shaved down to a white cone shape as they are sprayed with fungicide, dipped in preservatives and are up to 2 months old. They are far from fresh or nutritious.

Chip the top away, turning the coconut to cut all around the top, using a cleaver or machete until you make a small  hole through the hard inner shell. Pour the water into a blender. Slice the coconut in half and scoop out the soft meat with a spoon. Put the meat in a blender and blend the meat and the water until it forms a smooth consistency.

Note: There is a difference between young and mature coconuts. The young ones are green or yellow, they contain a lot of water and the meat is soft and able to easily be scooped out with a spoon. The mature ones are brown and dry, have little water and the meat is hard and difficult to remove. It needs to be cut out with a special curved knife. The mature coconut meat produces a rich oily cream called coconut milk by grating the meat and squeezing out the cream with a cheese cloth. There are two juice bars in Miami that use mature coconuts to make milk: Milk Gone Nuts and Athens Juice Bar.

Milk Gone Nuts, Miami Beach

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I found this hidden gem while washing my car at the Texaco gas station in Miami Beach. I was surprised to the see that the old pseudo-healthy sandwich and juice bar that I was used to seeing, had been replaced with a truly natural, fresh, made from scratch on the spot, nut milkshake bar. In an ice bucket on the counter there was a selection of different types of nut milk: cashew, almond and coconut, in old-fashioned glass milk bottles. Being so jaded from all of the false health food marketing, I was expecting to find an artificial ingredient to ruin it all but was amazed that the milk is made of all natural ingredients and am impressed that they use glass bottles so the milk doesn’t get contaminated with toxic plastic. This is the first time I have seen glass bottles used in a juice bar in Miami. Jugo Fresh, Glaser FarmsAthens Juice Bar and CPR all use plastic bottles for their juices and milks; even Organic Avenue in New York City replaced their glass bottles with biodegradable plastic ones. There is a five dollar bottle deposit to encourage reuse (and of course refill). I ordered a bottle of coconut milk and watched as the mature coconut (from Miami’s hip new coconut company, Coconut Cartel which also supplies their branded coconuts to Soho Beach House and The Standard Spa), was cracked open, separated from its shell and added to a Vitamix blender along with hot filtered water used to extract the coconut milk, Medjool dates, pure maple syrup, vanilla and Himalayan pink salt. The result was a heavenly tasting, fresh, nutritious milk full of healthy fat from the mature coconut.

Opened less than two months ago, owners Mario Suarez, Sara Tacher-Suarez and Brittany Fierman started Milk Gone Nuts with a vision to create an old-fashioned milkshake bar with a twist—dairy-free. Sara started making her own nut milks for herself and later her family and friends. When she decided to open her nut milk bar after being encouraged by friends, her daughter Brittany quit her corporate job to help run the business. The three types of nut milk can be ordered by the glass or bottle and made into a variety of milkshake flavours such as green apple and fig or homemade peanut butter and cacao, with different toppings including superfoods like maca, goji berries and chia seeds. Their sister company, Organic Juice Bar, at the same location, makes salads, wraps, pita sandwiches and juices using certified organic fruits and vegetables. Their salad dressings and extras are not natural (and may contain GMOs, e.g. soy, chicken) but along with expanding to more locations, their goal is to become fully organic.

I never expected to find a real food spot in such an unlikely place and I have no doubt, with a unique idea and the only nut milkshake bar that exists, Milk Gone Nuts will become a huge success. Getting my car washed is something I rarely have time for, but now that I can feed my toddler a healthy treat on our way home (saving me the time of making lunch) I will be stopping here more often.

It’s Good To Be Back!

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We arrived last night from our long trip and though I’m sad it’s over, it feels great to be back to Miami’s tropical climate and my healthy routine! My first food stop was Jugo Fresh, Miami’s newest and only organic juice bar of its kind, to get a green smoothie for Olivia and myself. Olivia had the ‘Suga Sherm’ which is coconut water, coconut meat, banana, kale and spirulina (I asked for it without agave) and I had the ‘Jugo Fly’ which is coconut water, coconut meat, kale, spinach, apple, blueberry, spirulina, hemp and chlorella, also without agave. The smoothies are sprinkled with coconut flakes, goji berries and cacao nibs. The fat from the coconut in the smoothie is necessary for the absorption of vitamins and minerals from the greens.

My only criticism about Jugo Fresh is that they put agave syrup in their smoothies. Not only is agave unhealthy because it is a highly concentrated version of fructrose similar to high fructrose corn syrup, but the smoothies are naturally sweet without it and even more so if you are used to a no sugar diet. To read more about the dangers of agave read here.

At Jugo Fresh they make fresh pressed organic juices and smoothies, similar to the ones at Organic AvenueLiquiteria or Lifethyme in New York City which I missed terribly after I left until Jugo Fresh opened. The Rastafarian juice man, Melvin, who used to make the smoothies at Lifethyme and had a devoted following (he may have been the one who invented the coconut and greens smoothie) left Lifethyme to start his own juice bar Melvin’s Juice Box at Miss Lily’s. My husband and I started making our own coconut and greens smoothie after learning from Melvin, using a Vitamix blender, but when I’m in a hurry, Jugo Fresh is quick and easy.