The next year, Keenan moved back to Charlottesville, where he went to law school, and started a vegan smoothie and juice company. After selling online and locally at markets, the Juice Laundry opened its first shop near the University of Virginia in 2015 before expanding to D.C.’s Navy Yard in 2017.
Like many, Keenan started drinking green smoothies for the health benefits. “It’s an easy way to get your greens,” he says. Adds Ryan Becklund, head chef of Fruitive, which has two locations in the District, “You really can’t overdo it with greens. The more you can slip them in different ways, the better, and smoothies are the best way to do that.”
The ingredients in a green smoothie can vary, but the base is often spinach or kale, plant-based milk and fresh or frozen fruit. Healthy fats like nut butters and avocado help fortify a smoothie and make it more like a true meal replacement. Boosters such as chia seeds or hemp protein can add extra nutritional value.
Not everyone has a high-speed blender at home or the time (or desire) to make a smoothie every morning. But it’s a new year and maybe you want to try new things; maybe one of your resolutions was to eat more fruits and greens. Here are five spots where you can give smoothies a shot in the District.
Peaches and Greens at Fruitive
If you’re looking to try a green smoothie for the first time, start with Fruitive’s Peaches and Greens. Packed with frozen peaches and bananas, a blend of spinach and kale, housemade almond milk and orange juice, it’s a fruit-forward, light option that’s full of vitamin C. “If you didn’t see the color, you probably wouldn’t even know that there’s greens in there,” says Becklund, adding that the energy-boosting drink is one of Fruitive’s most popular options.
The small chain, which founder Gregg Rozeboom started in Virginia Beach in 2012, has two D.C. locations: a small, busy City Center outpost and a slightly bigger Dupont Circle shop. The 13 smoothies on the menu — any of which can get an extra boost of greens for $2 — are called “liquid meals” because many can stand in for breakfast, such as the nutrient-rich Iron Berry (a creamy kale, spinach and avocado smoothie that’s purple thanks to blueberries and dragon fruit).
If you want a meal with your smoothie, Fruitive offers an entirely plant-based menu of sandwiches, salads, toasts, waffles, and soups, alongside a robust selection of cold-pressed juices, coffee and tea. $10.95-$13.95. 1094 Palmer Ave. NW; 1330 Connecticut Ave. NW. fruitive.com.
Happy Hemp at Turning Natural
Another good starter smoothie is the Happy Hemp from local chain Turning Natural. Anacostia native (and former aeronautical engineer) Jerri Evans opened the first Turning Natural juice bar in Forestville in 2014 (later moving to District Heights) and now has additional locations in Shaw, Anacostia and Capitol Hill (a fifth shop is planned for Takoma).
The Happy Hemp, Turning Natural’s lone green option, gets its tropical sweetness and acidity from frozen mangos and pineapple juice. The dark green hue comes from spinach and the algae-derived superfood spirulina; a vegan hemp protein helps thicken the surprisingly creamy smoothie (given its lack of a plant-based milk).
The rest of the smoothies at Turning Natural are mostly fruit-forward — the Marion Berry features four different types of berries, for example — which is not surprising because the chain specializes in juices. A selection of vegan veggie patties, salads, waffles, acai and pitaya bowls round out the modest menu. $5.75-$7.75. Multiple locations. turningnatural.com.
Coco Verde at the Juice Laundry
The Juice Laundry, which has five locations in Charlottesville, Richmond and the District, prides itself on being 100% organic, plant-based and sustainable. The Coco Verde is the only green smoothie on the menu (though you can substitute spinach or kale for dates in any smoothie for no charge, or add the greens for $1), and Keenan says it’s quickly become the chain’s most popular choice.
As the name implies, it’s coconut-forward (thanks to coconut water and coconut oil) but also balanced (and nut-free): Frozen mango and banana offer a hint of sweetness; date chunks add texture, and the kale has a slight bite. “I wanted to create something that’s going to get people to say, ‘Plant-based [food] and greens don’t have to be miserable to consume — you can actually do it in a way that is enjoyable,’ ” Keenan says.
The rest of the menu is full of varied options, such as Bradley’s CB&J — meant to approximate a cashew butter and strawberry jelly sandwich — or the Blaze, a fruit smoothie with a kick of heat and spice from ginger and cayenne. All the smoothies can also be turned into Acai bowls topped with fruit and granola. $8.20-$14.55. 1331 Fourth St. SE, Suite 104. thejuicelaundry.com.
Avocado Butter at South Block
Green smoothies can be decadent and dessert-like, such as Virginia-based chain South Block’s Avocado Butter, which might as well be a peanut butter milkshake — but good for you. Spinach, avocado and bananas give the smoothie its light green color, while agave adds a touch of sweetness to the protein-packed, peanut butter-heavy offering.
“We like to say count colors, not calories,” says Samantha Moss, a rep for South Block. “That one does have a bit more of a caloric content . . . but it’s still awesome for you and full of really clean ingredients.”
For a more classic green smoothie experience, try the Super Green — pineapple juice, kale, spinach, mangoes and bananas — or the Tropi-Kale, which gets its rich, dark green color from spirulina and tropical flavors from coconut water, strawberries, mangoes, bananas and agave.
South Block has three shared-space D.C. locations (in Georgetown, at Union Market and at George Washington University) and was founded by Amir Mostafavi in Clarendon in 2011. A new D.C. location is planned for Chinatown. Menus vary by location and generally include a selection of juices, fruit smoothies and acai bowls.
$8-$10. Multiple locations. southblockjuice.com.
Vegan Shake at Joe and the Juice
Denmark-based coffee and juice chain Joe and the Juice calls their smoothies “shakes” and offers two vegan options with green elements. The Vegan Shake is technically pink — the green comes from avocado — and is on the sweeter side, thanks to banana and strawberry. Chunks of dates that don’t quite blend fully add texture and sweetness, while the avocado and coconut milk gives the smoothie a creamy, thick consistency. As with any shake at Joe and the Juice, you can swap out the coconut milk for almond milk or oat milk.
For a richer option after a workout, try the Re-Build Shake, which blends chocolate almond milk and a vegan protein with avocado and banana. Joe and the Juice also offers a robust menu of green and fruit juices, coffee and tea, sandwiches, baked goods and breakfast bites, making it an ideal place to meet someone for coffee if you don’t actually drink coffee. $7-$8.5. Multiple locations. joejuice.com.