Blend Superfood Café and Coffee, 922 Elmwood Road, Lansing. Hours: Tuesday-Thursday: 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.; Friday: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Blend is tricky to locate if you don’t know what you’re looking for. It’s nestled in the corner of a strip mall with a Mexican restaurant at one end and a barbecue restaurant at the other, very close to Zaytoon Mediterranean near the Lansing Mall.blendsuperfoodcafe.square.site 517-292-4021
I turned 40 last June and just had my cholesterol checked. I’m tickled to share that the number went down, and I attribute that to a lot of good, clean living supported by my favorite breakfast, oatmeal. Although I wouldn’t touch the stuff as a kid, I’ve loved it for my entire adulthood and am always eager to try oats when they’re on a restaurant’s menu. When I heard that Blend was offering a variety of oatmeal, it became a priority for me to make a trip to the west side to get my fix.
Blend is tricky to locate if you don’t know what you’re looking for. It’s nestled in the corner of a strip mall with a Mexican restaurant at one end and a barbecue restaurant at the other, very close to Zaytoon Mediterranean near the Lansing Mall. For full disclosure, although I love oatmeal, smoothies and healthy food, it took all of my willpower to resist the aroma of smoking meat and order a Green Power smoothie. Smoke N’ Pig, I’m coming back for you.
The lighting inside Blend can appear dim, so keep an eye on its Facebook page to see updated hours and try the door, even if you think the interior lights aren’t on.
As a longtime oatmeal connoisseur, I can tell you Blend’s oats are above average. The base is creamy, not at all sticky or clumpy, and the toppings are all fresh and made to order. On my most recent visit, I tried mine with chocolate chunks, sliced banana, chia seeds, pecans and a drizzle of peanut butter. Healthy, yes, but with just the right amount of decadence.
The Date Nut Oatmeal Bowl ($7.50) starts with Blend’s traditional oatmeal base, which includes amaranth, super seeds and cinnamon, and is topped with chopped dates, freshly sliced banana, vanilla-almond granola and drizzled peanut butter. I liked it a lot, but I loved the Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal Bowl ($7), which was a perfect breakfast with the addition of a scoop of protein powder.
I also tried the beetroot steamer ($7.50) after seeing a fair amount of chatter about it on social media. A steamer is kind of like a latte, minus the espresso. It’s warm and comforting and just what I needed on a wintry day. The beetroot version is mildly spicy and can be made with any type of milk you like. (I chose oat milk.) I also tried the turmeric steamer during another visit and enjoyed the similar flavor profile but feared that I would splash the brightly colored drink onto my camel-colored overcoat and look a mess.
Blend doesn’t offer sandwiches or salads, but the acai bowls, smoothies and oatmeal make for a perfectly light meal that packs a nutritional wallop. On my way to argue a motion in Ionia County one afternoon (I’m an attorney by day), I stopped and picked up a Green Power smoothie ($9.75), which includes coconut water, strawberries, green grapes, banana, spinach, spirulina, collagen and ginger — the ginger can be omitted if you don’t like the taste. Coconut water is incredibly hydrating, and during winter in particular, my skin needs all the hydration it can get. I was thrilled to see coconut water as the base of this smoothie, just to add a little additional nutrition to my already health-packed snack.
I frequently make smoothies at home but had never considered the addition of grapes to my mix. It makes sense — grapes freeze well and can add a customizable amount of sweetness. That is, if I can pry them out of the hands of my children, who are like tiny fruit bats.
Blend isn’t particularly close to my everyday activities, nor is the location easily identifiable. But if you’re looking for an easy way to support a small, local business and do something good for your body, check it out. If you’re anything like me, you’ll fondly remember the beautifully topped oatmeal creations the next time you tear open an envelope of the instant stuff on a chaotic morning.
I’ll probably never be mistaken for a health nut. Give me all the cream-based sauces, all the meats, all the condiments. Potatoes and pasta? Yes, please. Fried protein or cheese? Yup!
I do enjoy some healthy fare — I love a good salad with a light vinaigrette or Brussels sprouts with agave or balsamic vinegar — but I prefer a carnivore’s feast any day. So, this month’s review of the superfood café Blend was a stretch for me. Not to mention it’s not super easy to find, because the hours posted online don’t always match the days it’s open and the parking lot rivals some roads in war-torn countries.
To make matters even more challenging, the morning of my first visit, its neighbor, Smoke N’ Pig, was already a couple of hours into cooking its barbecue supply for the day. The wafts of smoldering pork shoulder, ribs and brisket teased me as I entered Blend to order nourishing treats of oats, granola and acai. This place was going to need to bring it because my tastebuds were thinking “meat” on overdrive.
Thankfully, inside I found a pleasant atmosphere and the most gracious and knowledgeable café owner, Jessica Wheeler. She was patient and offered several tips and nutritional facts about each ingredient I considered ordering. From her familiarity with the various coffee varieties and brews to her assurance that the tasty chocolates were both vegan and locally produced, I felt I was in good hands from the beginning. Again, she was dealing with a novice, but I felt comfortable in making choices and even took her up on trying a few items that I wouldn’t ordinarily be adventurous enough to taste.
Blue Majik ($12.25), a coconut cream-based bowl with blue spirulina and a collagen add-on, complete with bright red strawberries, freshly cut bananas and a large helping of honey-drizzled granola. This bowl was absolutely delicious: The fruit was fresh, and the blue coconut sorbet was surprisingly complementary to the rest of the ingredients. Additionally, the regular Coconut Bowl ($12.25) was essentially the same basic ingredients, sans the spirulina, but had a subtle coconut flavor that struggled to hold its own amid all the other yummy flavors. Overall, both these bowls were delicious and surprisingly filling due to Blend’s generous portion sizes.
My little people tried the Kids Nutty smoothie ($6.50), which was nutty, with subtle notes of sweet chocolate. I would have preferred an extra shot of agave for a bit of a sweeter taste, but the 6-year-old (for whom the drink was actually intended) polished it off.
What’s super good
The Nut Nog Latte ($6.25) was another variation on the nutty theme, but this finish was anything but subtle. The combination of cinnamon, ashwagandha root powder and nutmeg rounded out every sip with a touch of spice, but a more muted flavor would have allowed other ingredients like the raw honey or maple sugar to make themselves known.
The Organic Oat Chai tea ($6.50) had many similar ingredients, but with a sweeter profile that made it more enjoyable than the latte. Both drinks were served hot with a smile and an admonishment to let the staff know if it wasn’t to my liking. This type of service accompanied every dish I had at the café. I felt well cared for in the hands of the Blend staff, and they made sure to check on us consistently throughout our meal.
This month was a photo finish too close to call. First, the Citrus-Ginger Immunity Shots ($5). These little orange shots of heaven included extremely healthy ingredients such as turmeric and tasted like a mango’s nectar, with a strong, acidic finish. I couldn’t help but wonder how great it would taste as a Bellini. The shot almost convinced me that healthy can be tasty, even with barbecue aromas in the air.
Finally, the Dragon Punch ($9.75) isn’t cheap, but it’s honestly the best smoothie I’ve ever had. This whip of dragon fruit, mango, dates, lemon juice, Sunwarrior vanilla protein and coconut cream (pro tip) was divine. I can’t wait for the weather to warm up because this is my new go-to.
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