Cool it now

When the weather gets hot, the hot get smoothies

Photo By Andrew Boost

As summertime temperatures rise, residents of the sweltering North State seek various ways to stay cool: hidden swimming holes in higher elevations, late-night dips at One-Mile and, of course, in our fertile agricultural valley practically overflowing with fresh fruits and vegetables, the ubiquitous smoothie.

From chain smoothie stores to organic eateries, menus feature a wide variety of tasty options—and if you have a blender, a quick trip to the farmers’ market can supply you with fresh fruits to make your own delightful smoothies at home.

I visited a few smoothie spots around Chico to see who could tickle my tastebuds and chill my bones. One of my favorite destinations has been inexplicably closed for weeks, sans notice or signage, so forced to explore, I ventured into new territory on a mission for the ultimate smoothie.

Jamba Juice on Forest Avenue was my first stop. A dizzying array of combinations and options greets the customer on a large menu; it took me a good five minutes to make up my mind.

I finally settled on the 24-ounce Acai Supercharger ($4.35), a combination of acai berry juice blend, soymilk, raspberry sherbet, strawberries, blueberries and ice. I opted for the vita boost, just one of the several boosts you can add to your smoothie for no additional charge.

Friendly service and a large menu make Jamba a winner. Plus, while you’re waiting, you can check out books and other merchandise for sale. I want the wheatgrass juicer of all wheatgrass juicers; it can be yours for only $229.95.

My next stop was Teaz Me Tea Bar & Asian Café, which has an assortment of tea-based “frosts” (12-ounce), creamy frozen tea lattes and “freezes” (14-ounce), blended tea sorbets. For $3.95, I sampled the Orange Creamsicle frost, made with oolong tea. Very sweet and thick and creamy, similar to a milkshake; the taste of tea is barely noticeable. Fresh fruit is used as garnish, and the result is aesthetically pleasing.

(On a return visit, I sampled the Pomegranate Cherry Freeze, made with green tea. The drinks are sweet, and so is the service. Fun tea-brewing gadgets are for sale, and the staff was happy to show me how they worked.)

I stopped at Grilla Bites next to pick up two smoothies for a ride up Highway 70 to my favorite swimming hole. The 16-ounce Grilla Banana Berry and the Grilla Paradise ($4.50), both made with organic frozen fruit and fresh organic raw juices, made the trip through hot foothills enjoyable. The Paradise—made with mango, pineapple, coconut and orange juice—was especially refreshing.

Brooklyn Bagel Works offers up some fine smoothies, too. I sampled the 24-ounce Morning Blend smoothie ($3.25)—made with yogurt, strawberries, banana, Knudsen’s Morning Blend juice, strawberry Torani and ice—when I stopped in for my morning bagel. Delicious and quite affordable, this smoothie rocked my world.

If your goal is a nutritious refresher, the best smoothies, while not as cold or fruity as some of the others, are to be found at Home of Nature’s Own. Not super sweet, but wholesome and made with some unique ingredients, the smoothies are raw and delicious. We sampled the Strawberry Chocolate Dream—a creamy concoction of banana, almond milk, raw cacao, strawberries and agave—and the Protein Colada—an impressive blend of pineapple, strawberry, banana, maca root, hemp seeds, bee pollen and coconut water.

At $5, the 12-ounce smoothies are the most expensive of the lot, but well worth it.

For the ultimate smoothie, however, I’ve discovered that sometimes it’s best just to make your own. Buy your favorite locally grown, in-season fruits and freeze them. (Make sure you pit any fruit that needs it before freezing.) Add some juice, coconut milk and ground flax seed or spirulina for added nutritional benefits, and blend away.

Bottom line: The summer heat is much more bearable when you’re sipping on some cool, refreshing ambrosia.