Juicing for better health

Although a Quarter Pounder with cheese might sound more appetizing to some than an all-juice diet, Living Juice founder Jamie Jensen swears that once you try her juice, it's hard to go back.

While a sculptor in New York City in the mid-2000s, the Laguna Beach native said she felt sick and unhealthy in every way imaginable — from her mood and everyday energy to having difficulty sleeping.

She was turned on to juices by her yoga instructor and decided to try a 10-day cleanse. Jensen said she immediately felt her cravings, bloating, agitation and sluggishness disappear.

She started to incorporate juices into her diet, and when she moved back to Laguna Beach last year, she felt like she had nowhere to go to satisfy her need for organic, raw, unpasteurized, cold-pressed juice.

Since January, Jensen has been producing Living Juice in a kitchen in Santa Ana with a small team of juicers, making each batch to order. Prior to launching the brand this year, she spent months in her Laguna kitchen perfecting the blends she knew and experimenting with flavors she never thought of.

She doesn't have a professional culinary background, but she said she's been in the kitchen since she was a kid. One thing is evident when talking to Jensen — she knows a thing or two about her juice.

"The flavors are impeccable," she said, as she points to a freshly made batch of "Heart of Gold," which contains tomato, spinach, olive oil, cayenne and sea salt. The juice, which has a hearty tomato soup consistency, can be served like gazpacho — cold in a bowl, she said.

Some juices are sweet, some sour, some savory — some are heavy and some are much lighter.

"The Beat," a sweet, tangy juice, contains beets, cucumbers, celery, spinach, kale, lemon and Peruvian Maca, an ingredient high in antioxidants that promotes weight loss.

During the Living Juice cleanse, a person will consume eight bottles a day.

Living Juice offers three cleanses: a one-day, a three-day and a five-day. If a cleanse isn't for you, Jensen recommends incorporating a couple of bottles of juice into your daily diet, along with two meals, with her "Out of the Box" option.

The health benefits include: craving reduction, better sleep, detoxification, increased energy, increased mental clarity, improved skin and self esteem, and a better relationship with food.

The cleanse isn't easy for all her customers, though, she said.

One customer, Michelle, tried the cleanse and hit some road blocks. Michelle had been used to consuming 60 ounces of soda and coffee a day, and she couldn't sleep well, Jensen said.

The cleanse was a shock to Michelle's system, and she got painfully sick. Jensen was on the other side of the phone, encouraging Michelle to stick with it, but told her she would refund her money if she did not want to finish.

"If you can just hang in there, you'll be so pleased and happy with yourself," Jensen said she told Michelle. "Sure enough ... she did and she did."

Jensen said hardly anyone is used to consuming such a concentration of vegetables and fruit.

"If I put a pile of vegetables and said 'eat that,' you would say 'I could never eat that'; that's 2 to 3 pounds of vegetables," she said.

She said many people don't realize that even a green salad is lacking in nutrients because it might only have fractions of a vegetable or fruit in it.

Each bottle of Living Juice has 2 to 3 pounds of vegetables and fruit and is only good for 72 hours. The bottles are delivered to the customer's home or office in an insulated bag.

Jensen said pasteurization kills enzymes and nutrients. Cold pressing literally presses the produce so juice is excreted and does not grind the produce, which Jensen said is less nutritional.

There are no additives or "secret" flavors that some might find in store-bought juices, she said.

"It's all about the nutrients, minerals, enzymes, vitamins in the juice that make it magic," she said.

For more information, visit Living Juice at livingjuice.me and or find them at the Laguna Beach Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings.


Twitter: @joannaclay

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