I used to be on the hunt for the next craft cocktail. But lately, it’s not happy hour that excites me. It’s health drinks.
I’m not a gym rat yet, but I’m on a downward dog spiral to speaking that language. Blame it on the hot yoga sculpt I’ve endured over the last three months. Weights, cardio, planks and upward dogs in high heat to bass-heavy beats make me thirsty. I’m drinking my water like I’m supposed to, but after a really good workout, you want something extra. And I’m not talking about a Salvy Gatorade shower (but I’m definitely making the Royals’ recipe for protein energy balls).
After every class, my teacher reminds us to hydrate and get some protein in our systems. I’ve become familiar with juices, enhanced waters and all kinds of protein shakes. Ten years ago, Kansas City didn’t have a lot of options. In the past year we’ve gotten Ruby Jean’s, more T. Loft locations, Unbakery, Simple Science Juices and more. I’d better invest in a Vitamix for my kitchen before I go broke — health drinks are looking like the new cupcake.
A few places and drinks to say cheers to after a workout:
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Unbakery and Juicery
This newest addition to our juicery craze even has a drive-thru. The juices are sorted by type: Green, Citrus, Root and H20. That last one –– water –– is what really caught my eye. These flavored alkaline waters are full of calcium, potassium, magnesium and all that healthy stuff. They’re supposed to help with digestion and buffer acidity. Basically they’re a water upgrade. My pick is the H20 No. 4 ($5), a bottled concoction of green tea, mint, honey and alkaline water that tastes like subtly sweet iced tea. Winning.
Another great choice after the gym: Green No. 2 ($9). Kale, spinach, honey, watercress and green apple make for a refreshing and surprisingly delicious combination.
Unbakery and Juicery, 634 E. 63rd St., is open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday. facebook.com/Unbakeryandjuicery
Ruby Jean’s Juicery
I’m a regular at Ruby Jean’s, but I don’t have a regular order. The thing I love about this place is that in addition to an expansive menu (Try the Meta-Boost juice or the Vine Street Greens), the mixologists behind the counter will make you something special with ingredients high in protein, boost energy and help you hydrate. I’ve gotten protein shakes in strawberry and peach.
But nothing tops the Cherry O ($7). You won’t see it on the menu, but you can ask for it: cherries, almond butter, almond milk, cashews, banana, vanilla and vanilla plant-based protein. If you’re a chocolate/cherry kind of person, ask for chocolate protein. I swear this is the liquid form of namaste.
Ruby Jean’s Juicery, 4001 Broadway Blvd., is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. rubyjeansjuicery.com
After a late-afternoon workout I was hungry and exhausted, but I didn’t want to ruin my dinner plans. Still, I needed some protein. The bartender at Cafe Gratitude suggested Grace ($9), a coconut smoothie. There’s no protein powder, but the ingredients have natural protein.
In addition to the coconut milk, almond butter, dates and vanilla bean, they use actual coconut meat. I immediately thought of pulpy orange juice and gagged. Yep. I’m one of those texture nerds. I don’t like a chunky, gritty drink. Lucky me, my worries were in vain.
Grace is creamy, coconut tropical greatness. In the midst of this tug of war between spring and winter, I was drinking up a taste of summer. My cravings subsided, and I had enough energy to take the dogs on a long walk before dinner. You could say I was feeling grateful for the grace.
Cafe Gratitude, 333 Southwest Blvd., is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday. cafegratitudekc.com
Steven Jennings has put a lot of care into crafting Sustained Juice, a delivery-only, cold-pressed juice business. He doesn’t just use the normal fruit and veggie blends I’m used to seeing, like kale and almond butter. He also uses turmeric, chlorella (green algae) and dandelion root. He knows not only what’s good for you but what tastes good, too.
For fitness junkies, he has an entire collection of sports performance drinks (a three-pack is $30), including a delicious green juice made of kale, apple, honeydew, chlorella and creatine monohydrate to help boost energy and muscle development. I haven’t tried them all, but my favorite so far is the banana, almond milk, almond butter and vegan protein. If I close my eyes it’s like I’m drinking an iced chai. I should sip it. Instead, I take big gulps. Because yum. $10 sounds steep, but it’s worth it.
Sustained Juice requires a 24-hour notice. There are drop off locations around the metro, but personal delivery is available. sustainedjuicekc.com
This cafe offers a big menu of healthy beverages — refreshing juices, tasty teas, smoothies and tonics, too. But when it comes to protein shakes, it basically comes down to whether you like vanilla or chocolate.
Chocoholics might like the Funky Monkey: plant-based chocolate protein, dates, banana and powdered peanut butter. For $6.50, it’s a winner and curbs a sweet tooth quickly. The Almond Dream ($6.50) is my pick. Think Horchata milkshake. Seriously, this blend of plant-based vanilla protein, banana, dates, vanilla and cinnamon is an after-the-gym treat.
T. Loft has cafes on the Plaza, State Line Road, in Leawood and Lawrence, too. Hours vary by location. For more information, visit tloft.net.
Simple Science Juices
I don’t care what the athletes drink. Give me Hydro.
In “Drunk in Love,” Beyoncé sings about drinking watermelon. Simple Science Juices in Overland Park takes that a step further with a beautiful pink concoction called Hydro ($8.50). It’s watermelon and mint, a simple blend that’s strong on electrolytes and amino acids. It’s sweet but minty and thoroughly thirst-quenching.
Simple Science Juices, 8126 Floyd St. in Overland Park, is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. A second location will open downtown this spring. Delivery available. simplesciencejuices.com