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Tanya Chen, owner of the Pulse Cafe on Montana Avenue, decided to put healthy living on the forefront after her mother died of pancreatic cancer. (Photo by Michael Ryan)

One year after Tanya Chen’s mother died of pancreatic cancer she decided to put healthy living on the forefront and in the storefront. With help from her daughter Yu, the two Santa Monicans have recently opened the doors to the Pulse Cafe on Montana Avenue.
Of course the initial agony of red tape and city hoops that almost every small business owner encounters was experienced by the duo. But through perseverance as well as some very enticing and curious menu items, 2013 looks promising for Santa Monica’s newest health-inspired cafe.
Perhaps opening up a health food restaurant in Santa Monica is like opening up a coffee shop in Seattle, or a BBQ joint in Texas. They’re a dime a dozen around town. Pulse Cafe indeed has all the familiar offerings one may expect in a local cafe, including coffee, espresso, and lattes. They have a variety of sandwiches, soups, salads, and wraps. There are also plenty of veggie specials and gluten-free items as well. But one thing that sets Pulse Cafe apart from the standard cafe is their smoothies.
More specifically, Pulse Cafe offers a line of both cold and hot smoothies. Yes, hot smoothies! While the very idea of a smoothie being hot goes against all smoothie fundamentals, with the cold weather we have been experiencing it very well may be the quintessential beverage. The hot smoothies vary, but some of the featured ingredients include oats, dates, flax, agave, goji, almond, cashew and coconut. Furthermore, all of the smoothies can be made with freshly-brewed almond or soy milk. If you go, ask for a sample of the homemade almond milk. With bits of almond pulp, and a much more defined taste, it is totally different from the brands available at the grocery store.

Pulse Cafe uses the edible seeds of various legume crops (peas, beans, lentils) in its smoothies to help make them rich in vitamins and fiber and a natural source of antioxidants and phytochemicals. (Photo by Michael Ryan)

Pulse Cafe uses the edible seeds of various legume crops (peas, beans, lentils) in its smoothies to help make them rich in vitamins and fiber and a natural source of antioxidants and phytochemicals. (Photo by Michael Ryan)

The almond milk along with the hemp, soy, and standard, is the foundation for all of the hot smoothies. The milk is steamed as it would be for making a latte. The steamed milk is then blended with the corresponding ingredients such as cacao, hazelnut, chia, date, and agave making up the menu’s Be Happy Smoothie.
The energy packed smoothies served up hot make for a much healthier alternative than the morning latte. The hot smoothies are wholesome, healthful and quite different. It’s a total departure from the norm, yet the flavors trigger a familiarity like a bowl of hot oat meal on a cold winter’s day. Essentially the hot smoothie is just some damn good comfort fluid.
When does a smoothie cease to stop being a smoothie? What if D.K. Donuts pureed a dozen Boston creams and called it a smoothie? Or Santa Monica Seafood blended up a whole bass? Can you make a smoothie with bacon? If so, that’s a game changer. According to the Internet, there are no rules. Therefor cheers to Tanya and Yu Chen, creators of Santa Monica’s one and only hot smoothie. I predict great things for the Pulse Cafe. Then again, I also predicted the Lakers would go to the finals, but that’s a different story.

If you go
Pulse Cafe
1426 Montana Ave.
Santa Monica, Calif.
90403
(310) 394-6700
www.westsidepulse.com/

Michael can be seen riding around town on his bike burning calories so he can eat more food, or on CityTV hosting his own show, “Tour de Feast.” To reach him visit his website at tourdefeast.net or follow him on Twitter @TourDeFeastSM.