Turning fruits and veggies into liquids proves to be more than a passing fad, thanks to the health benefits
*Editor’s note: The name the of juice bar referenced below (Vim) was changed to Sunna shortly after this article was published.
Three years ago, Alisa Morkides was addicted to sugar and fatty foods. Then, deciding she needed a lifestyle change, she adopted a whole foods diet, which combined with walking several miles a day, enabled her to lose 80 pounds.
Morkides, owner of Delaware’s nine-location Brew HaHa! chain, attributes much of her transformation to juicing fruits and vegetables. As a testament to this, she is opening a new juice bar and clean foods café along with Brew HaHa! Operations Director Ally McKenney.
Called Vim, the boho-meets-Moroccan establishment is slated to open in May in Trolley Square, replacing the current Brew HaHa! there, which will move to a larger building in the Rockford Shops nearby and will include a coffee roastery.
At Vim, all pressed juices will be made-to-order from raw fruits and vegetables. Additionally, the internationally-focused café menu will feature made-from-scratch soups, brown rice and quinoa food bowls, fresh salads, healthy breakfasts and more.
Vim will be the only juice bar in northern Delaware, with Nourish Juice Bar and Café in Kennett Square being its closest competitor.
Says 57-year-old Morkides: “When I added juicing to my lifestyle, my energy took off, and now when many of my peers are retiring, I’m launching two exciting new businesses and have never been more optimistic about the future. I’m truly living the life of my dreams, and I credit my diet and lifestyle change for all of this.”
According to the USDA, two cups of fruit and two cups of vegetables daily are recommended for the average adult, varying slightly by age and gender.
Unfortunately, grabbing an apple on-the-go seems to be the norm, and that’s simply not enough. It’s no surprise that the majority of Americans just aren’t getting the fruits and vegetables their bodies need. The USDA reports that Americans consume about half the recommended intake of vegetables each day, and this comes mostly from potatoes, with only 10 percent coming from dark green and orange vegetables (think spinach, carrots) that are ideal for good health.
Says Jessica Ruggieri, a health coach and fitness instructor at Wilmington’s Central Y: “Most Americans don’t like fruits or vegetables, or they don’t have time to eat them. In the U.S., we are forced into being people of productivity and that has left us with little time for self-care.”
So why juice?
Well, for one thing, juicing is convenient. It’s a quick and simple way to consume the appropriate daily amount of fruits and vegetables—without having to devour bowlfuls of spinach and carrots in one sitting.
Fresh juice provides minerals and vitamins, essential fatty acids, carbohydrates, proteins and much more. Added to your daily diet, it delivers increased energy, a “glowing” complexion, strengthens the immune system as well as bones, and reduces the risk of disease, according to McKenney. Additionally, juicing is believed to sharpen mental clarity, improve sleeping patterns and circulation, detoxify essential organs, lower blood pressure, and more.
Sums up McKenney: “Juicing makes me feel incredibly empowered.”
Latest Fad or Here to Stay?
Juicing is really big right now. The cold-pressed juice market has been estimated at $100 million a year the past few years, and Instagram is full of proudly-posted photos hash-tagged “clean eating.”
That’s a big change from a decade ago, when juicers—and those interested in a holistic lifestyle in general—were rare and considered “weird,” at least on the East Coast. But they did exist, especially on the West Coast, where juicing already was going strong.
Whole foods and juicing have been part of humanity’s diet for millennia, McKenney says. Humankind survived on whole foods until about 100 years ago. That’s when processed foods were introduced, which brought toxins into our bodies, causing disease, says Morkides. So, she reasons, society’s journey back to unadulterated foods is simply in our nature.
“It’s a return to what we lost and to what our bodies are accustomed to eating. When we drink pure liquid food, such as pressed juices and smoothies, and eat whole foods in their natural state, our bodies rejoice.”
McKenney and Ruggieri also agree that juicing is not simply a trend.
“It’s more of a lifestyle,” says McKenney. “People are more invested in health now than ever. It’s been a lifestyle for decades on the West Coast; now we need to bring it to our community.”
Healthy living must be promoted, Ruggieri says. Obesity has become a health crisis in the U.S. Three out of four Americans are expected to be obese by 2020, and juicing is one way to address this problem.
“What could help keep this going?” asks Ruggieri. “More raw juice bars around to combat the unhealthy choices we’re bombarded with.”
McKenney, Morkides and Ruggieri offer a few tips on how to best optimize your juicing experience.
Use organic fruits and vegetables.
A juice with two to six ingredients is optimal for good digestion. Juicing can be harmful to digestion when too many ingredients are added to the juice or smoothie.
Avoid juicing large amounts of fruit. The body processes fruit best when it comes with all of its natural fibers, and juicing removes much of the fiber in the process of removing the pulp or skins of fruit. Too much fruit juice means the sugars are released too quickly into the blood stream, and the liver has to work extra hard to filter them. Opt for an 80/20 blend of vegetables and fruits.
To keep the fiber, make a smoothie, which blends the whole fruit or vegetable, including pulp and skins.
Use fresh herbs, lemon, lime and ginger to give juice fresh flavor without added sugar.
It’s best to drink the juice right away; otherwise it may develop harmful bacteria.
Drinking juice before a meal reduces cravings for simple carbohydrates and sweets, and entices taste buds to crave plant-based, whole foods as opposed to heavily processed fats and sugars.
It’s best to drink juice 30-40 minutes before a meal, or between meals.
Green juices should be consumed on an empty stomach because they are digested quickly, and anything lingering in the stomach after they are digested can cause bloating and gas.
New juicers: purchase a mid-priced juice machine that’s easy to clean.
Recipes and Combinations:
Ruggieri: “To keep the caloric intake at a minimum, use mostly vegetables like kale, spinach, celery, carrots, cucumber. Add fruit to sweeten—e.g., pineapple, strawberries and oranges. A hint of lemon or ginger helps with flavor. There are many great recipes that will come with your juicer and I recommend trying all varieties. But if you ask me, I love my grapefruit!”
Here’s her favorite recipe:
• 1/2 grapefruit
• 1/2 cucumber
• 1/2 apple
• 1 celery stalk
• 1 lime
• Handful of ice
McKenney: “One of our favorite combinations for pressed juice is apple, lemon, cayenne and ginger. This juice is not only delicious and refreshing, but very healthy. Cayenne promotes weight loss, treats heartburn, and improves circulatory problems. Ginger stimulates circulation, reduces nausea and is used in pain management. Lemon improves digestion, helps control blood pressure, helps cure throat infections and promotes weight loss. Apples are a great source of anti-oxidants, polyphenol and flavonoids, all beneficial for heart health. Apple also assists in cleansing the destructive toxins and waste by-products from the liver.”