A year ago, you couldn't have paid me to finish a three-day juice cleanse (I attempted four before I was able to stomach one). Now I juice on a consistent basis and have even made meatless Mondays more of foodless Mondays. Of course, it helps that I write about food and, as a result, am heavily overfed throughout the rest of the week, which is why I am perpetually looking for the next way to balance out overeating versus not eating. Enter Jucy Lu.
Wynwood's relatively new all-organic option on the block offers daily cleanses of seven juices for $60 a day. That's a deal when you compare it to other local options, especially considering that not all juices are created equal (i.e., some are easier to swallow than others).
Which is precisely why when owner Vanessa Morado challenged me to three days of pure liquid sustenance, I accepted. "Our commitment to using 100 percent organic everything is what makes us different," she says. "What good are you doing to your body if you're giving it all these fruits and vegetables with pesticides and other chemicals in them? If you're going to go the nonorganic route, it's better to eat a salad than drink a juice."
Indeed, the fact that Jucy Lu uses all organic ingredients and adds no extra sugar, water, or anything might tack on an expiration date of three days to their unpasteurized mixes, but that approach also makes it well worth it for your body and taste buds. "The other thing is our flavors," Morado says. "We try to work with local producers and the seasons as much as we can and are constantly changing, introducing, and experimenting with new flavors."
Case in point: Jucy Lu's latest flavor, Shine On, packs mandarin, ginger, turmeric, and Miami's quintessential summer fruit — mango — into one delectable Florida-inspired concoction. And unlike most other cleanses, where you're forced to drink the exact same thing for three days, Jucy Lu keeps it fresh and exciting by changing up the flavors every single day.
"Some people don't like certain things, and the point of doing a cleanse — besides not eating processed food and giving your body a break — is to enjoy it," she says. "When you're not cooking or worrying about what you eat, you all of the sudden have time to clean your house, do yoga, get a facial, whatever you want. It's a disconnection and detox not just for the body but also for the mind."
Over the course of three days, I had 14 different fruit and vegetable libations, and each night, my seventh bottle, nut milk (think of it as the treat after a long day's work) was different. "We do a choco milk, a hemp milk, and a sweeter one," she says. I could have done without the hemp one, but that's just my preference and sweet tooth. Cacao lovers, however, will be heavily satisfied with the choco.
As for the cleanse itself, it was pretty easy considering Jucy Lu gives you seven juices for the day, which spread out at two or so hours (I did more like every two and a half hours), so it doesn't really leave any room for hunger to creep in. "Our sizes are 12 ounces instead of 16," Morado says. "We found it was better because it gives us more room to play with flavors, and people have a harder time drinking 16 ounces. They also get hotter faster, and the colder the better."
Though the flavors vary and change daily, it's up to you to tell Morado what you like or don't like. Equally as important is to keep an open mind and perhaps try new things. "We've had a lot of people who don't like beets but they love our beet juices," she says.
Of course, there are staples in every juice cleanse that Jucy Lu includes in its version, such as green-heavy juices (two of those a day), red juices throughout, and the aforementioned nut milk and protein nightcap. But other than that, you've got everything from the Easy Breezy (kiwi, green apple, napa cabbage, lime, and fennel) and the Power Cee (grapefruit, orange, lemon, lime, salt, honey, turmeric, cayenne, and alkaline honey) to Orange You Sweet (acorn, squash, carrot, orange, turmeric, papaya, apple, and orange pepper) and Yellow Mellow (beet, pineapple, cucumber, acorn, squash, ginger, lemon, and yellow pepper).
My favorites were the red juices, particularly El Chaman (lemon, grass burdock root, napa cabbage, Asian pear, aloe, apple, jícama, lemon, lime, beet, and pineapple). "All the chefs love El Chaman. I don't know why, but I think it's because of the burdock root and jícama," Morada says.
If you're a fan of spice, let her know when planning your cleanse. "My partner loves spice, and I like a touch, so we try to balance it out and have something for both extremes," she says. A perfect example of a subtle kick is the green gazpacho with tomatillo, jalapeño, green pepper, lime, cucumber, cilantro, chayote, and Celtic salt.
"We want people to think of juice cleanses like going to a restaurant for a meal," Morada says. That explains why some of the recipes read more like a vegetable dish with a few exotic ingredients thrown into the mix than a juice, and that is exactly what sets Jucy Lu apart from other juice companies and cleanses in town.
Follow Carla on Twitter and Facebook.