Shake and tea shops with the “nutrition” in their name are popping up around Shelby County, including one right behind Helena Health Club on County Road 52. “Our vision was to bring healthy delicious options to Helena and to provide a comfortable atmosphere for people to hang out or have small business meetings,” Helena Nutrition Co-Owner TJ Cunningham told us. We chatted with him to learn more about the concept and its sister location in Alabaster. You can follow them @helena.nutrition on Instagram  or @helenanutrition on Facebook.

How did you get involved with this concept?

I was unhappy at my old job and found out about a nutrition club in Alabaster and started planning a second location with its owner. I had tried their shakes and teas, and I really enjoyed going into the location in Alabaster and seeing the people loving the atmosphere and the drinks. We are distributors for Herbal Life Nutrition. It’s been around for about 40 years and is backed by science and a lot of development.

Tell us about your shakes and teas.

We carry 30 plus flavors of shakes that are low calorie and high in protein. The shakes are 200-250 calories and with 24-30 grams of protein, and people can use them as a meal replacement or a snack or for pre-workout and post workout. We have energy teas that provide a vitamin energy boost with Bs, Cs and Ds, and a little less caffeine than a cup of coffee. They have 24 calories and no sugar. We also have nutribowls all with fresh fruit and our house made granola.

What flavors do you recommend?

My favorite shake is the pralines and cream, and my favorite tea is a dragon fruit with oranges and blurriness in top. And the best nutribowl is banana bread. There are lots of flavors so everyone can choose. The most popular teas are blue Hawaiian, pink starburst, dragon fruit and killer strawberry, and the most popular shakes are banana bread, cinnamon toast crunch and peanut butter brownie.

Francisco Castillo opened The Healthy Hangout before starting Helena Nutrition with you. How do the two locations connect?

In Alabaster we were having a lot of people come over from Helena as customers and tell us they wanted one in Helena. We started looking for a place and found one in the True Value hardware center with a drive-thru window, which has been our saving grace in the pandemic. It’s light and airy and comfortable with a contemporary craftsman style. We pretty much have the same menu and a drive-thru at both, but the Alabaster location is small in the back of the Brooklere Pharmacy building across from the YMCA on Highway 119. It has some limited seating.

Is there anything else you’d want people in the area to know about y’all?

Something that sets us apart is we want to provide next level service in a relaxing lounge setting and want to try to build relationships like a coffee shop. You can skip the fast food line for a shake and tea combo; you save a dollar if you get both and also if you tag us in your social media while you are here.