WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? DRINKING TO OUR HEALTH

010417freshicasrb6An eye-catching peppermint-and-spinach-based Grinch Bowl topped with granola at Freshica’s. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?It’s the first week of a new year, which means PieHole is trying to stick to its annual get-fit resolutions. So we headed over to Freshica’s in the Red Bank’s West Side Lofts building on West Front Street for a convenient, quick, and healthy lunch.

Open just six months, Jessica Dalmedo’s second store is already busier at lunchtime than her original spot inside Fairwinds Deli in Fair Haven, opened more than four years ago, she tells us. She and her experienced employee, Lee Ann Caporicci, patiently explained the benefits of some of the new-to-us ingredients in their recipes.

010417freshicasrb4A cold brew smoothie is made with Fair Mountain organic coffee. Below, Freshica’s owner Jessica Dalmedo outside her juice and coffee bar on West Front Street. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

010417freshicasrb1In addition to the original smoothies, the new juice and coffee bar carries acai bowls and juices, as well as a line of pre-made paleo salads and wraps made by Dawn of Thyme located in Jackson. The wraps are made with organic coconut flour and gluten-free.

Other quick grab-and-go options available are hot soups, oatmeal, and Fair Mountain organic pour-over coffee.

There’s a gym-style, no-frills juice bar vibe setup here, with tables, chairs and bright green stools that offer seating at a wraparound counter.

“There’s a different mix of customers here,” says Caporicci, who has been working at Freshica’s for about four and a half years and is familiar with both locations. “You see more of the moms in Fair Haven. They know exactly what they want. Here, they’re less familiar with the product.”

Vacillating between a smoothie and a Tropical bowl ($9.50), a customer ahead of us in line grabbed the last of the pitaya — a hot-pink dragonfruit-based fruit bowl — that we were itching to taste.

An equally pretty Grinch bowl — made with peppermint, spinach, agave, banana, almond milk and strawberries — also caught our attention. Still, we opted for a less colorful pick-me-up, the cold brew smoothie ($9.50).

Thinner than a shake but still pleasantly creamy, it produces a profusion of slurpable flavors. It’s a tasty melange of Fair Mountain organic coffee, almond milk, banana, cinnamon, agave, and cacao powder. Is it good for us? Well it’s low in calories and high in potassium, carries a kick of caffeine, and it’s filling enough to get us through until dinnertime.

Caporicci says more customers are coming in to kick-start 2017 with a cleanse. Listed as “serious greenage for the hardcore juicer,” a full-day cleanse will set you back $52.

Also on the made-to-order juice menu is a superfood shake containing a blend of maca — a plant grown in Peru — hemp, cacao, blueberries, banana, almond or coconut milk, flax oil, and cinnamon. It seems that the road to good health is paved with exotic ingredients.

Freshica’s in Red Bank is open from 6 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and opens at 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

SUSAN-ERICSON

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