fit or fad
Drink up! The skinny on juicing, cleanses and where to find the best smoothiesin Austin
When I moved to Chicago in the summer of 2010, one of the first things I did was email Matt Shook, one of the owners and founders of JuiceLand.
“Matt,” I wrote:
I have a strange request. I just recently moved to Chicago after living in Austin for 6 years and I am going through Subliminator smoothie withdrawals. I can't seem to find anything remotely similar to Daily Juice [now Juiceland] here in Chicago...
Shook, whom I’d never met, promptly emailed me the Sublimantor recipe (now the Originator), which is an amazing blend of banana, berries, peanut butter, spirulina and flaxseed oil. He signed the email, “Enjoy.”
Shook became hooked on liquid meals when he saw the incredible affects raw juices and superfood smoothies had on people’s health (think better sleeping, more energy and clear skin) and how great they made people feel.
And enjoy I did. When summer was a warm memory and I was in the thick of my first real winter ever (a Chicago winter is a brutal introduction), I surprised myself by craving smoothies. And not just any smoothie, a Subliminator smoothie. Maybe it was the antioxidants in the berries, the nutrient-dense spirulina, the omega-3s in the flaxseed oil or the combination of it all — but I’m convinced Subliminators got me through my Chicago winter. (Well, and beer, but that’s another story.)
Shook became hooked on liquid meals — smoothies and juices — when he saw the incredible affects raw juices and superfood smoothies had on people’s health (think better sleeping, more energy and clear skin) and how great they made people feel. After working at the Juice Joint starting in 1996, he opened Daily Juice in 2003, which became JuiceLand in 2011.
“Right now, we are busier than ever,” says Shook, part of which he attributes to the popularity of the six juice cleanses JuiceLand offers. The cleanses — which include a Karate Cleanse, Liver Detox Cleanse, Unicorn Blood Cleanse or even a make-your-own — are designed to provide all the nutrients the body needs, but give the organs a break from processing fat, toxins and other elements of the modern-day diet. The nutrients and minerals in the juices provide clean energy while also cleansing the system.
Shook, who is neither a strict vegan or vegetarian, drinks smoothies and juices all day. “It keeps me feeling energetic and light on my feet all day,” he says.
When dinner time comes around, he enjoys cooking meals for his family of lean local protein (like grassfed beef from Bastrop Cattle Company), lots of greens and a glass of wine for the chef.
"Juicing is like mainlining nutrients into your system," says Kim Love, founder of the Love Life Method, which helps people become more aware of the effect different foods have on their bodies and identify the best way to eat for each individual. “Juicing can be very alkalizing for the system.”
(It’s important to note here, that when I use the words “juice” or “juicing,” I’m referring to fresh, non-pasteurized juice that's literally made right in front of you from whole fruits and vegetables.)
The cleanses are designed to provide all the nutrients the body needs, but give the organs a break from processing fat, toxins and other elements of the modern-day diet.
When creating the Love Juice, a key component of the Love Life Method’s programs, Love’s goal was an alkalizing blend of nutrient-dense green vegetables and no fruit or inflammatory ingredients (citrus, garlic, jalapeno, onion and tomato).
When juices have a lot of fruit, because the fiber has been removed in the juicing process, only sugar remains, which can cause a spike in blood sugar later resulting in a blood-sugar crash, Love says.
The Love Juice consists of of celery, cucumber, kale, spinach, parsley and coconut water and can be found at Juicebox, JuiceLand, by name at the juice counter at Whole Foods and, soon, at Daily Juice.
When juicing at home, Love recommends using a Hurom juicer. It is much less expensive than the Norwalk (the Mercedes Benz of juicing), but extracts the juice in a similar way — slowly and without a lot of heat, which can break down the nutrients and minerals in the vegetables and fruits (the reason people juice).
For a quick fresh juice fix, Snap Kitchen offers a variety of cold-pressed juices. “The difference between a cold-pressed juice and a conventionally made juice is that the juice is literally pressed out of the fruits and vegetables,” says Andrea Hinsdale, a registered dietician at Snap Kitchen.
Cold-pressing helps retain all the nutrients and minerals, but it is a very time-intensive process, Hindsale says, which is why Snap Kitchen’s juices are more expensive than other fresh juice.
Snap Kitchen’s most popular juice is the Super Greens, Hindsale says, which is juice extracted from kale, spinach, lemon juice, parsley, romaine, cucumber and celery. The Super Greens juice is offered a la carte, but is also one of the six juices that make up Snap Kitchen’s Clean Start, a one-day juicing program designed to kick start a change toward healthier eating.
As an experiment I decided to try 24 hours of just fresh juice. I made sure to pick a day that my husband was out of town and I had a lighter-than-normal workload. I’ve been known to get snappy when I’m really hungry and I didn’t want to subject anyone to me on a day of nothing but liquid meals.
I picked up my six juices from Snap Kitchen the day before. The morning of my juice-day started with a Super Greens juice and every 2-3 hours I would drink another, including a Carrot Ginger Elixir, Antioxidant Juice and a Cashew Protein Shake. I was calm. I was focused. I wasn’t snappy. I felt clean and I even went to yoga. My day of juice really wasn’t difficult at all — a huge surprise to me. I’d even do it again. But I have known others who have done it and struggled.
If juicing is just a bit much for you, start like I did — with superfood, nutrient-packed smoothies made with high-quality, fresh ingredients and greens
If juicing is just a bit much for you, start like I did — with superfood, nutrient-packed smoothies made with high-quality, fresh ingredients and greens.
Love recommends adding some protein, such as almond butter, to smoothies to balance the sugar in the fruit and use water or coconut water for a base rather than fruit juice. And Shook reminds not to forget about greens — kale, spinach, parsley, etc. "Getting some greens in there is an awesome thing to do,” he says.
“For smoothies, the blender is really important. The Vitamix is a great friend of ours,” says Erin Downing, co-founder of Blenders & Bowls with Kara Jordan, who uses a blender to make everything on the Blenders & Bowls menu — inventive acai bowls (try The Sesher) and smoothies.
And to mask the grassy, green flavor of greens, a little ginger can go along way, says Downing. “It hides the green flavor, but you still get all the nutrients of the greens.” Banana can also do the trick. (Check out the new Blenders & Bowls cafe at Wanderlust Live.)
As for me, I’m still hooked on smoothies. I start every day with one I make at home. I use only organic fruits and vegetables. Some fruits I buy frozen, others I buy fresh and chop and freeze for later use. I always add raw nuts — almonds and walnuts — and rice protein powder to balance the sugar in the fruits. Sometimes I add some spirulina, maca powder or spinach. Almond milk is my favorite base. And I finish off every smoothie with a drizzle of Udo’s Omega 3-6-9 oil (your nails and hair will love it).