Healthy and Refreshing Smoothies Around Lake Minnetonka

A meal in a glass or a cooling treat, smoothies are ideal for summer.
Hankering for fresh fruit? Grab a raspberry smoothie from Licks Unlimited.

What exactly is a smoothie? Good question. Pureed fruit drinks first appeared in America in the 1930s and the health food craze of the 60s ran with the formula. These days, smoothie parameters are vast and wide. A smoothie may—but not always—include fresh or frozen fruit. Sometimes a smoothie is made creamy with milk, soymilk or frozen yogurt. Crushed ice or water might be part of the smoothie equation. However, a few things are certain: Smoothies are delicious, nutritious and they constitute a billion-dollar industry. For a meal in a glass or a light refresher on a hot afternoon, a rainbow of smoothies beckons. Here is a sampling of our local smoothie action.



Lakewinds Natural Foods

This pretty swirl of orange juice, frozen peaches, fresh bananas and pineapple chunks really does look like a cup of sunshine, and it explodes in the mouth with bright fruit flavor. A dash of ginger juice contributes an extra burst of sunny sparkle. We slurped it down with delight and are gearing up to return to Lakewinds’s smoothie counter to fortify ourselves with some “Purple Power,” feed our inner “Green Being” and bite into an irresistibly fresh “Fuzzy Peach.” We may even amp up these feel-good concoctions with nutrient-rich additions like tofu, wheatgrass juice and whey protein. All the ingredients are 100 percent organic and the ordinary-looking plastic serving cup is in fact 100 percent compostable. There’s nothing so delicious as a feel-good, do-good kind of treat. $6. 17501 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.473.0292


Cold Stone Creamery

The smoothies at Cold Stone Creamery come in three cheerily enticing sizes: “Like It,” “Love It” and the largest, “Gotta Have It.” The offerings are divided into “Sinless,” made with Splenda and clocking in at a mere 110 calories, or “Lifestyle,” which is made with Coldstone’s proprietary smoothie blend and intended for “the active lifestyle,” i.e., packing a higher calorie count and greater nutritive value. We decided to take the sinless route and were rewarded by the sweet and tangy fruit sensation of “Man-Go Bananas,” an ingenious combination of mango juice, fresh banana, ice and Splenda sweetener. Who knew that something sinless could be so yummy? $4.09. 768 Mainstreet, Hopkins; 952.746.1970



Creekside Coffee House

“It’s just like biting into a fresh peach,” says the barista as she delivers our vibrant smoothie, and we were pleased to concur with this assessment. Peach concentrate and ice conspire to create an eye-opening, not-too-sweet smoothie experience at this coffee shop. The easy-drinking, mid-weight consistency plus an eye-opening fruitiness equal the perfect afternoon pick me up for those hectic, errand-crammed days. Also available in black current, raspberry and strawberry flavors. $3.89. 12934 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.938.4140



Mill Valley Kitchen

Not for the smoothie newbie, this powerful vitamin bomb sips more like a soup than a drink. The distinctive taste of broccoli reigns, while kale and ground hazelnuts create a substantially textured body. Mixed berries, apple and banana contribute a welcome touch of sweetness, but the main impression is assertively vegetal. The 12 oz. serving is smaller than the typical smoothie, as green as the incredible hulk and nutrient-rich enough to carry you through an entire day, if not an entire week. Hardcore stuff that’s worth every swallow. $6. 3906 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park; 952.358.2000



Licks Unlimited

The uninitiated would do well to ease into the world of smoothies with a visit to Licks Unlimited, a charming, 32-year-old ice cream parlor. The welcoming aroma of waffle cones and cotton candy seduced us immediately, and we were relieved by the straightforward smoothie flavor choices— strawberry, raspberry and strawberry-banana—as well as by the simple ingredients: just frozen fresh fruit and frozen vanilla yogurt, period. Our raspberry smoothie was as thick as an ice-cream shake, flecked with colorful chunks of berries and drifted with snowy peaks contained by a domed lid. We were grateful for the accompanying long-handled spoon so that we could dig in right away. Delicious. $4.25. 31 Water St., Excelsior; 952.474.4791



Life Café

The smoothies at the Life Café are designed to complement a workout at the adjacent Life Time Fitness Center. We decided to gear up for some muscle-building action with a strawberry-banana “Ultimate Protein” smoothie, which promised to deliver a whopping 26 grams of fortifying protein derived from whey protein and skim milk. The smoothie’s light consistency was quickly ingested and easily digested, ideal properties for imminent strenuous activity. We were a bit befuddled by the extensive list of add-ins, which included L-glutamine and creatine. Must be for the serious gym rats. $4.79. 3310 Cty. Rd. 101 S., Minnetonka; 952.476.1717


Dunn Brothers

This ruby-hued beauty has the icy texture of a Slushee but a sophisticated palate that is thrice-removed from its convenience store cousin. Dunn Brothers’s smoothies are whipped up from a concentrate of pure fruit juice, tea and ice. You can add a tower of whipped cream on top of your smoothie, but we preferred the unadulterated interplay between fruit and tea: subtle nuances of herbs, an insouciant nose, a robust fruit-forward body and a long, smooth finish. Cheers! $3.90. 11 Water St., Excelsior; 952.401.8004



Jamba Juice

The smoothie frenzy reached its apogee in 1990 with the advent of Jamba Juice, a worldwide chain of more than 700 stores. The number of choices is mind-boggling. There are “Classic Smoothies” made with frozen yogurt, “Specialty Smoothies” containing only fruit, “Fruit and Veggie Smoothies” that guarantee a three full servings of fruit and vegetables, the “Fit ‘n’ Fruitful Smoothie” for a meal substitute, “Pre Boosted Smoothies” to fight a cold or recover from a workout, a “Creamy Treat Smoothie” for dessert in disguise, and the low-calorie “Jamba Light  Smoothie” sweetened with Splenda. After our heads stopped spinning, we settled on the Fit ‘n’ Fruitful Berry Blend, since it sounded both yummy and nutritious, chock full of strawberries, blueberries, mixed berry juice, soymilk and the mysterious yet promising “balance boost” and “weight burner boost.” It was indeed yummy, and for those of us keeping track of RDAs on the USDA food pyramid, we racked up 2.5 servings of fruit. Quite the rewarding liquid lunch. $4.80. 12401 Wayzata Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.345.4440



Orange Julius

Dairy Queen now owns the beloved mall-based chain of childhood memories, and today’s Orange Julius menu offers about 20 different smoothie options, including “Premium Fruit,” “Thick & Creamy,” “Lights” and “Julius Classics.” The quintessential namesake drink that once fueled our afternoons at the roller rink and video game arcade is now called “Orange Julius,” and we’re happy to report that it tastes exactly the same: a curiously addictive cross between a creamsicle and baby aspirin. Its ingredients are listed as orange juice, sweetener, ice and something called “magic awesome powder,” which is in fact whey protein, egg white solids and a few different kinds of sugar. What a sweet ride down magic, awesome memory lane. $4.50. 12401 Wayzata Blvd. Space 2155, Minnetonka; 952.546.5244