Seattle Times food pros taste-test a variety of prepackaged smoothies, judging taste, texture and nutrition.
IF ALL IS GOING well on days you want a smoothie, you might blend one at home before heading out, your nutrient-rich homemade snack tucked safely into a cooler, ready when you are done working out.
Then there are all the other days, when the most realistic option is to grab one at the store.
In honor of those days, I gathered professional food folks at The Seattle Times — food writer Bethany Jean Clement, assistant features editor Paige Collins and features producer Shirley Qiu — to taste-test several premade smoothies. As per usual, their standards were high. The ratings below are an average of taste, texture and nutrition, based on a scale of 1 to 5.
Best: Odwalla Original Superfood
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Overall rating: 4
Odwalla Original Superfood has been around as long as I can remember smoothies showing up at grocery stores. It was the top vote-getter for taste and texture. Bethany liked its “floral bouquet,” while Shirley said it was her go-to in college. The ingredients include apple juice; peach and mango purees from concentrate; and barley grass, kale, wheat grass and Jerusalem artichoke. Paige noted, “It’s green, and it doesn’t taste green.”
Worst: Naked Protein Zone
Overall rating: 1.3
Protein powder always adds risk in smoothie world, particularly for texture. The Naked version didn’t succeed on this front, with all judges giving it low scores for its chalky, thick texture. For taste, Shirley said it reminded her of the drinkable yogurt Yakult. The flavor didn’t bother Paige, though Bethany called it, “chalky and sweet and awful.” Fruit juice is mixed with soy and whey protein, but soy lecithin pulled this lower on the nutritional scale.
Naked Green Machine
Naked’s Green Machine came in second for green smoothies. The judges noted the tangier, more-acidic flavor. Green Machine’s nutritional content made it a contender, with ingredients including spirulina, alfalfa, broccoli, wheatgrass, parsley, ginger and garlic.
Columbia Gorge Organic Vita Sea Superfoods
As soon as Vita Sea was poured, noses wrinkled. The sludgelike, dark-green texture was unappealing, and the smell … well, “It smells like a fish tank,” Bethany commented. We figured kelp was responsible; that boosts its nutritional rating, but does nothing for taste or appearance. “It tastes healthy,” Paige said.
Columbia Gorge Organic Wild Blackberry
The combination of fruit with lemon juice doesn’t mean Wild Blackberry tastes very good. Bethany said, “Ooh; sour, sour, sour” as soon as she took a sip, and rated its taste a 1. Shirley and Paige liked it better, though Paige did not dig its grainy texture. Without standout ingredients beyond fruit, consider this one average all around.
Naked Berry Veggie
The judges had high hopes for this appealingly bright, beet-red smoothie. Then, they tasted it. Shirley called it “cherry medicine, like Tylenol,” while Paige took one sip and couldn’t drink any more (she did note that she doesn’t like cherry flavor; cherry puree is the first ingredient). Bethany, who likes cherries, found it sour and bitter: “I’m surprised they would make it so violently flavored.” With real ingredients like carrots, sweet corn and chick peas, in addition to strawberries and apples, it fared reasonably well on the nutritional scale.
Odwalla Chocolate Protein
Odwalla’s Chocolate Protein shake redeemed protein shakes a smidge, at least in texture. It smelled like chocolate milk, and the flavor was sweet and mild. It was not too sweet, the judges agreed. “If anything, it’s a little boring for something chocolate,” Bethany said. But it fared the worst on the nutritional side, with cane sugar and the food additive carrageenan in the ingredients.