Taste test - Green smoothies

In a sampling of popular grocery items, we pick the best out of three. Items are evaluated for flavor and presentation. Price is not a factor, as it is too subject to change. This week: pre-made green smoothies.

A recent outbreak of springtime flu in my house necessitated a supply run for all things healthy. Among the provisions I picked up for my ailing husband was a blueberry-blast-Vitamin-bomb smoothie that was as nutrient rich as it was delicious. In an attempt to bolster my own immune system, I opted for the big guns: "green smoothies" loaded with, well, vitamin-packed green things.

While there are several types of green drinks out there, I opted for three fairly similar mixes with fruit bases versus straight-up wheatgrass-laden power bevvies. In these drinks, brighter fruits like apple, mango and kiwi camouflage an abundance of veggies (including broccoli, spinach and Jerusalem artichoke), algae (spirulina mostly) and grasses (wheatgrass, barley and alfalfa, among others).

Some were better than others, but all were better than one might expect of a moss-green, slightly thick concoction. I still have to work up the nerve to take every subsequent sip. Thank goodness for those cheery labels.

Odwalla Original Superfood: Apple juice (the primary ingredient) shines through upon first sip and continues to occupy the palate. This smoothie is thicker than the others, but the nicely blended fruit-forward flavor lightens up the whole mix.

Naked Green Machine: Unscrew the cap and the first thing you'll notice is the aroma of veggie. For some, this is not a dealbreaker (not me). Still, greens are the predominant flavor upon first sip. Couldn't quite identify which one, but it could have been the alfalfa (409 mg; neither other smoothie contained it). Some fruit flavor came out at the end of each taste but not enough to overpower the pungent quality of this smoothie.

Bolthouse Farms Green Goodness: Smooth citrus notes (versus tangier ones like lemon) are the first to emerge on the palate; could be the mango noted on the ingredient label. No discernible taste of the greens and their flavor partners, like the spinach, garlic and chlorella indicated on the bottle. Thicker than juice, but not off-putting; slight graininess.

Winner: Odwalla Original Superfood. Packed full of what might not otherwise taste great in beverage form (wheat sprouts anyone?), Odwalla's smoothie delivers a fruity, pleasant punch of flavor. Its makers appear to have hit on a greens-fruit blend that requires no nose-holding on the path to good health.

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