Jill Minton has always led an active, healthy life.
But after being diagnosed with celiac disease five years ago, she kicked her healthy habits into overdrive. She started juicing, drinking tea and following a “clean” diet free of gluten and processed foods. Changing her diet changed her outlook.
“I didn’t know how bad I felt until I knew how good I could feel,” Minton says.
Last year, Minton used her newfound energy to open T. Loft, a tea and juice shop at 8025 State Line Road in Kansas City. The health cafe, which Minton co-owns with her husband Brandon, also serves salads, protein balls and gluten-free treats that are easy to eat on the go. Consider it guilt-free fast food.
It wasn’t long after the first T. Loft opened that Minton started scouting a second location further south.
The Leawood T. Loft, which opened in February, is neighbors with The Bar Method, a fitness studio specializing in ballet-inspired workouts. On a recent Tuesday afternoon, I parked at the Park Place garage and walked past The Bar Method, where glistening women in Lululemon tank tops stood at the window practicing pliés.
Inside T. Loft — a clean-feeling space with concrete floors, big windows, chic dove-colored furniture and sparkly chandeliers — I was greeted at the counter by two glowy-skinned women in neat ponytails and yoga tanks.
The customer ahead of me nabbed the last detox salad, a portable cup of Brussels sprouts, carrots, dried cranberries and sunflower seeds dressed with a sweet vinaigrette. So I opted for the $6 Asian Crunch salad, a mix of shredded purple cabbage, carrots, broccoli and sunflower seeds in a light ginger-sesame dressing.
I also ordered an Extreme C juice ($6 for a medium), which mellows fresh-pressed kale and spinach with apple, orange and lemon. It was as green as fresh-cut grass and as easy to drink as apple juice.
Minton says that other top-selling juices include the Mean & Clean (orange, ginger, carrot, apple, lemon) and Alive & Alert (kale, spinach, grape, orange, apple, ginger). If you’re looking for more substance and sweetness, try the Blue Maui smoothie ($4.50 for a small), which blends pineapple, blueberries and spinach with coconut water and fresh apple juice.
You won’t taste the spinach in the Blue Maui, but you will in a shot of spinach juice, which costs $1. T. Loft devotes a section of its menu to healthy shots that you can add to your smoothie or drink straight.
I tried a $2 shot of E3 Live, an organic, nutrient-dense algae harvested from a lake in Oregon. The woman behind T. Loft’s counter added a little cold coconut water to the blue-green sludge, which tastes a lot like wheatgrass.
I felt a vitamin-induced head rush.
Hardcore health nuts go for T. Loft’s $55-a-day cleanse programs. A typical one-day cleanse package comes with four juices, an almond milk, a salad (such as blueberry-almond-avocado) and a protein ball. I like T. Loft’s sunbutter protein balls ($1.25 each), a ball of sunflower seed butter studded with flax, sesame and chia seeds and sweetened with honey and maple syrup.
Minton says she used to sweeten some of her gluten-free treats with sugar.
“But we broke up with sugar” earlier this year, she says, “because people get enough sugar other places.” That meant doing away with some items, including T. Loft’s popular sweet potato brownies.
I didn’t miss the sugar in the grain-free and gluten-free pumpkin muffins ($3.50), made with almond flour, pumpkin, clove, cinnamon and maple syrup.
Minton says her customers don’t miss the sugar, either. “Ninety-nine percent of our customers come in because they want to be healthy,” she says.
The same is true for T. Loft’s owners. Last year, Brandon Minton left his job in construction management to work full-time at the shop. The former college football player was suddenly surrounded with healthy foods. He started eating better and working out regularly.
“He’s lost 75 pounds since we opened,” Jill Minton says. “It’s been a phenomenal transformation.”
Now more family members are getting involved with the healthy business: Jill Minton’s sister, Lisa Green, and her mom, Marybeth Mermis, are working on opening a third T. Loft later this month, at 4801 Bauer Farm Drive in Lawrence.
Enterprise reporter Sarah Gish writes about Johnson County restaurants every first and third week of the month. Contact her via email at email@example.com or tweet @sarah_gish.
Location: 5225 W. 116th Place in Leawood
Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Credit cards: Yes
Parking: Park Place has a free parking garage. There’s also parallel parking in front of T. Loft.
Don’t miss: The Extreme C juice ($6 for a medium) tastes like apple juice, but it’s packed with kale and spinach. Looking for something sweet? Grab one of T. Loft’s gluten-free pumpkin muffins ($3.50), which taste like a mix between pumpkin pie and gingerbread cookies. And don’t forget about tea: The iced pomegranate green tea ($3 for a medium) is co-owner Brandon Minton’s favorite.
Vegetarian: Those who follow a vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free or Paleo diet have plenty of options to choose from at T. Loft. If you’re vegetarian, try the Asian Crunch Salad ($6), a cool and crunchy mix of shredded cabbage, carrot, broccoli and sunflower seeds tossed in a light ginger-sesame dressing.
More info: tloft.net