Ah, January, when thoughts turn to self-improvement, and gym membership departments scramble to sign up as many people as possible during the haze of post-Peach Drop hangovers. Yes, the inevitable New Year's resolutions are upon us. Typically, those goals can be boiled down to two maxims: be healthy and be happy.
Two relative newcomers to Atlanta, Roots Juices (3400 Shops Around Lenox, Suite 202-A, 888-666-0290, www.rootspressedjuices.com) and Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams (1198 Howell Mill Road, 404-355-6050, www.jenis.com) deliver both health and happiness in their own ways, though Roots focuses more on the former and Jeni's hits it out of the park with the latter. In the name of helping your resolutions last at least till spring, let's take a look at these two enablers.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and apply the Bill Cosby chocolate-cake-for-breakfast theory (youngsters: Google it) to the context of ice cream. Eggs? Healthy. Milk? Of course. Milk from grass-grazed Ohio cows roaming the foothills of the Appalachians? Even better. Seasonal, organic fruit? Healthy. And I think we can all agree on the strong scientific support for the respective health benefits of wine, coffee, and dark chocolate, right? You can get all those things in a scoop from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, home of magical flavors like a spicy cayenne chocolate or a decadently fruity Riesling poached pear sorbet. Hallelujah.
Jeni's ice cream has been available by the pint at Star Provisions for the past year, but it opened up its own scoop shop next door back in October. Founder Jeni Britton Bauer made a name for herself with an ice cream cookbook, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home, and her own shop in Columbus, Ohio, both of which won national accolades galore (including a James Beard Award for the book). And for good reason. Jeni's ice creams are uniformly luscious and come in an array of unique flavors anchored by quality ingredients: Cloverton farmstead cheese (from Ohio) with swirls of bright and tart red currant-strawberry sauce, or a black coffee (that's actually white) that gets its remarkably pure flavor by steeping Batdorf & Bronson single-estate beans directly in the cream.
While Jeni's Ohio roots show through strongly, she intends to bring in a few Georgia ingredients and flavors over time. For now, Atlanta gets the same stuff her other shops get — made in and shipped from Ohio.
At the colorful little shop with flowers on the tables, customers line up along the counter and ponder the overwhelming array of unusual choices, many of which are seasonal and change monthly (like the recent sweet potato with torched marshmallow, or a whiskey eggnog ice cream). Luckily, the friendly staff is happy to supply samples, despite lines stretching out the door. Try a few; maybe gamble on a random flavor that intrigues you. The cherry lambic and Riesling poached pear sorbets are particularly amazing (and vegan). It costs $5.50 for three flavors in either a cup or cone, or you can splurge on a sundae, house-made toppings like a baked cocoa "gravel," or the ever-enticing waffle cone. No matter your choice, you're sure to leave happier than when you came in, and maybe healthier, too, depending on how strongly you subscribe to the Cosby theory.
The argument for cold-pressed vegetables as a path to healthy living is somewhat easier to make than the case we just made for ice cream. The question is can kale, cucumber, and beets poured out of a plastic bottle also keep you happy as you drink down those nutrients? Roots Juices opened in the Shops Around Lenox last July, the first storefront for the Dallas-based company that started off in juice delivery. If you're familiar with Arden's Garden or dtox not too far up the street in Buckhead, you know the basic drill. There's a confusingly long menu of juice concoctions, a few combos designed to cleanse your body from the inside out, and, well, not much else. No smoothies made to order, no sandwiches, and no gallon-size jugs of single fruit juices. Just 16-ounce bottles for $8 each.
The juices here are all hydraulically cold pressed on site, as opposed to centrifugal juicing which apparently doesn't get the same degree of nutritional goodness out of each piece of produce. The juice is made daily, but you don't get to see the juicing in action — just a fridge packed with bottles behind the small counter. Each 16-ounce bottle is the result of a whopping 2-3 pounds of produce, and Roots says it tries to use local and organic as much as possible.
The staff at Roots is just as friendly and eager to offer samples as Jeni's is — poured out into tiny paper cups — hopeful that you'll find a few that will hook you into a juice routine. The cleanse options — which come in Gentle, Intermediate, and Advanced (a much better name than whatever the opposite of Gentle might be) — are all combinations of six different juices meant to be consumed in a particular order over the course of a day. No severe lemon juice and cayenne here — each variety is genuinely tasty (as long as you can latch on to the idea of drinking rather than chewing your veggies).
If you're in a green mood, try the Green Goddess — a pleasantly bitter mix of kale, apple, spinach, romaine, celery, and cucumber with a crisp finish. It somehow manages to make for a much more satisfying meal than a simple, raw salad would. Ready for dessert? The Health Nut is a shake-like concoction of almond, dates, vanilla bean, and sea salt that's creamy, smooth, and lightly sweet, with prominent vanilla warmth.
I can't vouch for all the supposed health benefits of drinking these juices, but I can say that they leave you feeling like you're doing something good for your body. You can even order online for free delivery in select ZIP codes to make it easy. Healthy and happy? Check. No gym membership required.