Kaleidoscope Juice serves a smoothie called the Immortal Machine ($7.25 for 16 ounces) that has one of the longest ingredient lists on the menu. Two lines in, after familiar items like protein powder and cacao, you may wonder, “What am I even reading?”
Ingredients like ashwagandha, wild harvested shilajit, and amla sound like they’re straight out of a science fiction novel. You’re likely to see this kind of thing outside of Kaleidoscope Juice, too; juice bars and healthy food joints all over the country are incorporating adaptogens and other herbs into their beverage offerings.
Adaptogens are herbal supplements that reportedly help the body adapt to stress. Bon Appetit magazine forecasted that adaptogens would be one of 2017’s biggest food trends (perhaps you’ve seen the pricey adaptogenic “dusts” sold online by Moon Juice, a popular juice bar in Los Angeles), but the Immortal Machine smoothie has been on the menu at Kaleidoscope since its opening in 2013.
“It’s been our winner since day one,” says Alexandra Maw, Kaleidoscope Juice owner and the smoothie's creator.
There is some back and forth over which botanicals are considered to be adaptogenic, but these are generally agreed upon by herbalists: There are roots like ashwagandha, maca, and ginseng; leafy herbs like holy basil; medicinal mushrooms like reishi, cordyceps and chaga; and even mysterious mineral substances like shilajit.
Maw says she relies on adaptogens to get her through her day as a business owner, which starts with store deliveries at 5:30 am, includes a double shift behind the counter, and ends with bookkeeping in the late evening hours. “I’m kind of an introvert, too, and I’m talking to a lot of people all day long,” says Maw. “These herbs really help me balance all that adrenaline and anxiety, and bring me a sense of well-being and peace.”
Maw says she created the Immortal Machine to be a complete meal with superfood boosts to fuel busy people like her. “We’re constantly producing cortisol, the stress hormone. That’s what adaptogens are so great at – counteracting the constant flight-or-fight mode that we’re in,” says Maw.
When entering the world of herbalism, it’s important to note that you’re stepping beyond the realm of FDA verified health claims. Does ashwagandha really take the edge off after a long day? Or, does cordyceps mushroom powder help you power through a workout? You be the judge.
In the meantime, let’s walk through the botanical boosts in the Immortal Machine, adaptogenic and otherwise:
Ashwagandha: an adaptogenic herb that helps to reduce stress and anxiety
Wild Harvested Shilajit: a mineral rich sap-like biomass extracted from the Himalayan mountains
Maca: an adaptogenic root that boosts energy
Mucuna: a bean native to Africa and south Asia that reportedly boosts dopamine production, improving mood
Organic White Kidney Bean Extract: a reported “starch blocker” that aids weight loss
Amla: also known as the Indian gooseberry, an Ayurvedic super food that boosts immunity and may even aid hair growth
Maw says these wacky ingredients are becoming more and more familiar to her customers. “People are 100 percent catching on. It’s amazing,” she says.
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“Health isn’t served to you on a silver platter these days; you have to seek it out, and people really are seeking it out.”
If you’re worried that all this stuff makes the smoothie taste weird, don’t be. Banana, cacao, and protein powder flavors dominate here, with chunkier bits of cacao nibs helping out with texture and crunch. If you feel like the maca root powder won’t give you enough oomph, you can add espresso to the Immortal Machine, or you can order the Immortal Coffee, which has all the herbal boosts of its smoothie counterpart.
1 North First Street
3802 East Indian School Road
7119 East First Avenue, Scottsdale
6835 East Camelback Road, Scottsdale