• The era of fresh juices and smoothies: how up-to-date is your offering?

The era of fresh juices and smoothies: how up-to-date is your offering?

With growing health concerns sweeping the nation, smoothies and juices are more popular now than ever before. Their versatile nature offers plenty of ingredient options; they can be served in a cup, glass or bowl, in cocktails, caffeinated beverages or detox fluids. They can be packed full of nutrients or double as a dessert, making them one of the most versatile menu options available to consumers today.

The trend of juice bars

While juice and smoothie cleanses are without a doubt an efficient way of cleansing and detoxing the body, they’ve erupted into a multibillion-dollar industry because they’re a simple way of incorporating nutrition into one’s diet. Boost Juice have always been the spear headers of the fruit smoothie trend; the success of the company is living proof that the smoothie and fresh juice craze isn’t going anywhere, any time soon. It could be argued that its versatility and creativity is why many predict it to continue to grow at a rate of knots. They’re perceived as a healthier alternative than other beverage options such as coffee and soft drinks and that perception holds a lot of weight when you’re dealing with a society with rapidly increasing obesity-related illnesses.

How restaurants and cafes are now including a variety of smoothie and juice flavours on their menu

Image of a juice bar

Fresh juices and smoothies aren’t just for trendy cafes and juice bars; restaurants are becoming increasingly creative too. Wasim Shaikh, Head Chef at Kazbah in Sydney says “as a chef, I look at juices and smoothies from a different angle than that of a café or juice bar, where juices and smoothies are more of a casual addition to menus, rather than a thoroughly developed menu option. It’s my belief that there are four key components that make up a great smoothie or juice; healthy and seasonal vegetables, a balance of seasonal fruit, presentation and garnish.” He explains to Superior Food Services that by combining a variety of smoothie and juice flavours on his menu, like kale, turmeric, frozen berries, cucumber, celery and other seeds and spices, he’s providing a drink with a balanced flavour profile that packs a lot of punch.

Some café connoisseurs will tell you that if you’re still drinking smoothies from a straw then you’re doing it all wrong. Smoothie bowls are taking over café menus and for more than one reason. They’re wider surface areas give venues a blank canvas to use different ingredients like chia seeds, dragon fruit and nuts to create a colourful composition on the surface of the bowl. You can fan avocado halves to create different layers and textures or drizzle some honey for a burst of flavour. Making your smoothies a work of art instead of a simple drink entices consumers and provides them with a sense of satisfaction, giving your café or restaurant that air of sophistication and separating your establishment from the casual corner shop milk bars.

As for fresh juices, they’ve come a long way since they were just a tasty drink, of which sugar content reigned supreme. Today, they’re containing less sugar and more green vegetables that help alkalise, detox and rejuvenate the body. Many cafes and restaurants have turned to low-sugar frozen vegetables such as rhubarb or carrot to keep the temperature frosty, sugar content low and nutrients packed. Leafy greens such as frozen spinach are also being used more as a way of balancing flavours and keeping vitamin levels up.

The health perception of juices and smoothies

It’s true that fruit and vegetable smoothies and juices are generally more nutritious and contain less sugar content than milkshakes and thick shakes, but it’s important to recognise that just because you put fresh mango in a vanilla milkshake, it doesn’t make it low calorie. It only takes a dash of processed apple juice, a spoonful of full-fat frozen yoghurt or a drizzle of honey to transform an all-natural fruit delight into a high-calorie treat.

Go for healthier fats

One way of minimising the level of animal fats in your blended drinks, such as milk, ice-cream and yoghurt is by using frozen fruit varietals or nuts that are high in monounsaturated fats to achieve a similar smooth texture without the calories. “Frozen avocado, almonds, hazelnuts and pecans are great options to use as thickening agents in your smoothie blend without having as much of an impact on the consumer’s cholesterol,” says Chef Wasim.

Freeze your fruits

Image of frozen berries in a bowl

One of the reasons for the use of ice-cream in smoothies is to give them the desired thickness and to keep its temperature frosty for longer. To minimise the need for a frozen additive, try freezing fresh fruit ahead of time to add to your blender or juicer on order. Pitting stone fruits and portioning before freezing or using already frozen berry options will help to maintain a similar level of sweetness, without having to use dairy as a means to bring the temperature down.

Use coconut water to thin the consistency

Forget processed fruit juices as a thinning agent for textures; coconut water is high in potassium, magnesium and electrolytes and very rich in antioxidants. Manufactured fruit juices are packed with sugars and preservatives, making it poor for your customer’s diet (if opting for healthier alternatives). For even chillier smoothies and juices in the summer months, pour all-natural coconut water into ice cube moulds and add to the blender as you need.

Limit high-sugar fruits

Despite knowing the sugar content in different fruits, many venues still use high-sugar fruits in their smoothies and juices as a way of making them seem healthier than they actually are. For instance, even though bananas are high in potassium, dietary fibre and protein, they have around 12 grams of sugar in every 100 grams, putting them near the top of the ranks in sugar content. To counteract the overuse of high-sugar fruits, try using more low-sugar fruit and vegetables as a way of including a high level of nutrients without the overload of sugar. “Frozen blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are always crowd-pleasers in juices and shakes,” Chef Wasim says. Other options for natural sweeteners include agave syrup and stevia. They have a lower glycemic index load that causes less of an increase in blood sugar helping to keep consumers fuller for longer.

Smoothies and juices have become a phenomenon in cafés, restaurants and juice bars in recent years, becoming a figurehead for the Australian beverage market at large. With the drink’s popularity set to grow in direct correlation with the nation’s collective health consciousness, it’s important to understand how to build your beverage options so that it speaks to the right market.