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Food and Drink Features

Smooth move

Keep cool with one of summer’s favorite treats: the smoothie.

Christina Nihira May 25th, 2011

Summertime: It is nearly upon us. That means scorching temperatures and the pursuit of all things cool. A beach or mountain escape may not be readily available, but there is a quick solution with minor travel and minimal damage to your wallet. The simple fix: smoothies.

Bar manager William Russell pours Green Hawaiian smoothie shots next to Brittany Williams at Matthew Kenney OKC.
Credits: Mark Hancock

Patrick Mok and his wife, Jo Anne, own Tropical Cafe, 304 S. Kelly in Edmond, a full-service restaurant with a smorgasbord of smoothies. The menu features combinations like the Tropical Teaser (coconut milk, pineapple, mangoes, bananas, nonfat yogurt and ice) and Strawberry Fields (strawberries, bananas, yogurt and ice). Other blended delights include options like Chocolate Lovers, Peach Kiss or Cookies & Cream. All of the cafe’s smoothies are made from whole fruit and natural juices and contain no sugar.

Tropical Cafe is devoted to offering diversity.

“We are here to tailor to your specific (tastes),” said Patrick Mok. “We are family-owned. I want to (fill) a niche rather than be (like) a franchise.”

Mok, who holds a bachelor’s degree in math plus two master’s degrees in business, thinks of himself as a “foodie” inventor. He is, he says, “responding to his customers and the increasing trend in food allergies.”

Since the cafe opened a decade ago, Mok said he has observed that a lot more people have allergies to bananas, in addition to the usual nut and dairy problems. On top of catering to those with dietary restrictions, another innovation at Tropical Cafe has been to develop smoothies with special ingredients suitable for patrons suffering from diabetes and cancer, which may forbid specific ingredients during treatment.

The cafe thus became a flavor lab. For caffeine enthusiasts, Mok recently created a coffee smoothie. He likened it to a Frappuccino without the calories. His version not only has fewer calories, but is healthier since it’s made with nonfat yogurt. Another new creation, the fresh fruit margarita, is set to debut in June. Although it will resemble a smoothie since it contains fruit, the yogurt will be replaced with sake.

In Classen Curve, the former 105 Degrees, recently renamed Matthew Kenney OKC, 5820 N. Classen Blvd., is another creative flavor-combiner. The focus is good nutritional value with great flavor.

To achieve the perfect taste, bar manager William Russell relies on methodology and ingredients. First, fresh fruit is selected, cut and frozen. He believes this step helps to eliminate liquidity. Next, that fruit is mixed with natural juices, perhaps spices and maybe a natural supplement. No ice, syrups or yogurt are used.

The menu at Matthew Kenney OKC has nine constants. Popular choices are the Blue Bee (blueberries, honey, gelato, white chocolate, bee pollen) and Mango Creamsicle (mango, banana, orange, vanilla, honey).

More complicated on the tasting scale is the Oaxaca, which combines dark chocolate, almond milk, bananas and chiles.

“The contrast is unique, and you can’t get it anywhere,” said Keri Salas, who drives from Edmond to get the Oaxaca smoothie. “There is bitterness before the chile and the kick for the aftertaste. But these are nondairy, so they don’t overwhelm your palate.”

Supplements that boost energy, immunity and health can be added for a nominal cost. Each 16-ounce drink can be enjoyed at the restaurant or purchased to go, and seasonal selections are rotated through the menu as well.

Inside the Body Rock Fitness Club & Cafe, 9235 N. Penn, is the hip smoothie bar, Shake This. You don’t have to be a member of the club to enjoy the fresh and frothy works of precision. Customers have a choice of two or three fruit juices as well as two to three fruit possibilities. Protein can easily be added, too. Milk is optional and makes about an 80-calorie difference.

Chrissy McLaughlin, who lives in nearby Nichols Hills, is a fan of the Off the Hips Through the Lips smoothie. The busy wife and mother of two often phones her order in advance before heading out to pick up her favorite drink.

“It’s a good, high-protein, low-calorie smoothie that has a chocolate-peanut butter flavor,” she said. “I get it without the dairy, and I tweaked it a bit. (For me), it’s all in the name.”

For those that don’t want to leave home, there is always the option of using your own blender. Check out perfectsmoothie.com for guidance and recipes. The website also provides product reviews from the past five years, if you are in the market for a new blender. Prices range from the lower end and continue on up to the more expensive appliance lines.

Of course, if you want to be outdoors, there is always the portable blender. That way, you’re never far away from a smooth way to get through summer.

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