The benefits of a liquid lunch

Just sweet enough that you don’t need to chug it

It took minimal chewing to pack in this nutritious meal.
  • It took minimal chewing to pack in this nutritious meal.

The last time I passed through this part of Poway, this was a bagel shop. Now the counter service eatery has been converted to a GreensPlease, a mini chain that also has a drive thru location in Rancho Bernardo.


12202 Poway Road, Suite 100,, Poway

Boasting a plant-based menu comprised largely of local and organic produce, the shop has replaced bagels with breakfast dishes along the lines of overnight oats, vegan french toast, and avocado toast; and lunch dishes including salads and quinoa vegetable bowls.

However, topping the menu are green smoothies. Not the usual fruit and yogurt concoctions. These are fronted by pureed leafy greens that (according to seasonal availability) include: green leaf lettuce, chard, collard greens, bok choy, dandelion greens, stinging nettle, parsley, purslane, and up to three types of kale. Bitter and vegetal? Yes, but they’re sweetened with enough apple, banana, and coconut milk that they hope you won’t notice; and nutritionally boosted enough — there are chia, flax, and hemp seeds — that drinking one feels vital. I even picked up a Hot Shot — a cocktail of probiotics, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, and other anti-inflammatories meant to be taken ins small, potently nutritious doses.

Most of the smoothies aim juicy, with the likes of pineapple juice, berries, or ginger to make refreshing complement to one of the light meals. However a dude behind the counter called my attention to a pair of so-called meal replacement smoothies on the menu.

Served in 16 ounce bottles for $8 apiece, there are two. Because GreensPlease’s vanilla infused Banana Cream Pie meal replacement had sold out, I settled on Cocoa Dream, flavored with cocoa and carob. It was just sweet enough that you don’t need to chug it, but if you do slow down enough to really chew on the flavors of the macerated fiber smoothie, a little bit of chewing is certainly an option. it’s viscous and pulpy, and you’ll taste a tang of apple, a whiff of coconut, muted chocolate, and a boatload of chlorophyll.

Not delicious, but it gets the job done. And to be fair, if blending a bunch of superfoods together tasted great, we’d all be living in a juice-powered utopia. Instead, these serve as nutritional vessels for dedicated healthy eaters who don’t mind trading epicurean pleasures for convenience. And kelp. One added ingredient in the meal replacements is kelp.

As to whether it replaces a meal, I can attest it’s the only thing I ingested in the 11 hours between breakfast and lunch that day. Okay, I did try a couple fresh spoonsful of the vegan Crème of Mushroom soup I’d ordered just in case I did not find my meal sufficiently replaced. But it wasn’t necessary, and tasted just as savory and delicious reheated out of the fridge later.

While I still felt hungry immediately after drinking the Cocoa Dream smoothie, that feeling subsided within 10 or 15 minutes, and I found myself with plenty of energy to get through the afternoon. And while I did see fit to cap my day with a large, heavy pasta meal, that’s another feast story altogether.

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