All Hail Smoothies!

Who doesn’t love a great smoothie?! And what better time to get into the habit of making them now that summer is here and fruits and vegetables are growing as we speak. What make smoothies so accessible is that there are endless varieties and options so there is truly something for everyone. Often it just takes some taste-testing to find ones that work well for you… and a good blender!

Aside from being delicious, smoothies provide a host of health benefits. The list is long, but some of the more important advantages to adding them into your daily routine are:

  • Meeting your body’s daily fruit and vegetable nutritional needs
  • Improving digestion
  • Aiding in your body’s detoxifying processes
  • Strengthening your immune system
  • Improving the quality of your sleep
  • Supplying the right fuel for more energy in the short and long term.
  • Giving your brain all the vitamins and nutrients it needs to improve your mental clarity, focus, and memory
  • Nurturing your body with the vitamins and minerals it requires to grow healthier hair and make your skin glow

We at Food + Mood NYC make it our mission to scour the streets of New York City to see who else agrees that smoothies are an essential part of a daily diet. The good news is we are not alone – there are many out there – in all five boroughs – but we have fallen in love with Hu Kitchen. Not only does this Paleo-friendly and gluten-free eatery offer juices, bowls, soups & mains, they have a separate Smoothie Counter. Sold!

We had a chance to sit down and chat with co-founder of Hu Kitchen, Jessica Karp, about their philosophy and the importance of having a Smoothie Counter at their restaurants.

F+M NYC: You and your brother co-founded Hu Kitchen. Can you explain the story of how and why you created Hu Kitchen?

JK: My brother, Jordan, was working in real estate and I was working in finance at Morgan Stanley. Jordan was coming home from a real estate convention in Las Vegas. He was in the airport, feeling tired and hung over from a typical Las Vegas weekend. He was looking for something to read on the plane and a book with a red cover caught his attention. It was Dr. Mark Hyman’s The UltraMind Solution and he devoured it on the plane. From that book he began to research the effects of gluten on individuals and the benefits of clean eating. He started removing certain foods from his diet to see what effects it would have on him. And he began asking restaurants what ingredients they were using for their dishes. At the same time, my husband was very interested in nutrition and he and Jordan started collaborating and discussing different ways of eating. And for Jordan, he felt that the Paleo diet worked best for him. Jordan also felt that there was really nowhere in New York City to eat cleanly and have it also be delicious. We came to the conclusion that there was a gap in the market and realized that we could create a place where we would serve mostly Paleo, gluten free, unprocessed food and give our customers a place where they could trust the food. Transparency is everything for us – we list all our ingredients and we feel our customers should know what they are putting in their bodies.

F+M NYC: Why is it called Hu Kitchen?

JK: We worked with a consulting company and we were writing names on an easel and brainstorming ideas and someone put the word Human on the board and then my husband said, “What about Hu?”. And it just clicked! If you think about getting back to human, Hu fits nicely into that. We just want to eat the way humans are meant to eat, using real food.

F+M NYC: We love your Smoothie Counter! Can you tell us more about it? What options do you offer your customers? Do you rotate the options?

JK: We have always had smoothies at the restaurant. We make them both fresh at the counter and now we also bottle them. We have certain staple flavors that stay in the rotation, as they are our customer favorites, like the Almond Banana Smoothie, which has been there since day one. The Huberry Smoothie, with organic seasonal berries, orange juice and lime, has also been there since the beginning. We recently added the Excited Banana Smoothie, which includes house-made almond butter, banana, organic espresso, organic cocoa powder, dates and house-made almond milk. The Wrath of Rosenberg Smoothie has been a big hit with organic kale, house-made almond butter, organic seasonal berries, organic maple water and organic maca root. We also try to be creative using different fruits with our Mia’s Pitaya, which is a gorgeous pink color filled with organic pitaya, organic strawberry, mango, organic spinach, organic maple water and banana. What I often do is bring home a bottled smoothie and I will make a smoothie bowl the next morning for breakfast and include nuts, fruits and almond butter.

F+M NYC: You have two successful locations in New York City. Do you have plans to grow?

JK: We have a growing chocolate business. A lot of our resources are being put towards growing that business now and that is where our focus is. We intend to offer more products than chocolate in the future. That will be coming down the pipeline.

F+M NYC: Besides Hu Kitchen, where are your favorite places to eat?

JK: For a fun group dinner, I love Le Bilboquet. I love their grilled calamari and octopus. It’s a fun scene when you want that kind of night. For Chinese, I love Shun Lee West. For amazing fresh fish, we eat at Estiatorio Milos. Our family loves smoked salmon and so we head to Barney Greengrass for that. For sushi, we love Sushi of Gari when we are feeling creative and for easy and good takeout we eat from Momoya. And finally we are big gelato fans. Grom is 100% natural and offers amazing gelato made on their own organic farm in Italy. There are a few locations in Manhattan.

F+M NYC: Not including food, how do you take care of your body and mind?

JK: In my family, we think life is a balance. As it relates to food, I think we are an 80/20 split. I think to treat yourself on occasion makes us human. With respect to exercise I like to mix it up. I work out with a trainer and I have come to love hot yoga. I love the good sweat of hot yoga and the workout you get from it. When I first started yoga, I didn’t get the importance of shavasana and oms – now they are my favorite part! You learn to embrace those peaceful moments. I also love tennis and enjoy most activities that allow me to be outside. I snowboard in the winter. Taking up this new sport as an adult was an amazing and exhilarating experience. I saw myself make progress and improve a new skill. I feel like snowboarding and taking up tennis again, after having not played for 15 years, are good examples of how I take care of my body and mind.

Jessica Karp and her brother, Jordan Brown. Courtesy of the New York Times

Jessica Karp and her brother, Jordan Brown. Courtesy of the New York Times

Visit to learn more and visit their NYC locations: 78 Fifth Avenue (@ 14th Street) and 1536 Third Avenue (@ 86th Street)