If you’re not going three times per day, then something’s not right ,”says Glen Cavallo, who, along with Lisa Storch, owns Catch a Healthy Habit Cafe in Fairfield, where I’m sampling one of the Super Smoothies that is bottled up for customers doing the Café’s Five Day Juice Cleanse.
To hear Glen, and other cleansing gurus like Carissa Delicicchi at The Stand in Norwalk, and Carrie at Kaia Café in Westport, talk, it seems that most of us could probably use a little “cleaning out” every now and again.
A Juice Cleanse is a nourishing diet consisting of liquid food allows the digestive organs time to rest and heal from the toxins of modern living. They give your body a break from bad habits like caffeine and alcohol and reset the palette for healthier foods.
During its five day cleanse week, which is run once per month, the team at Catch a Healthy Habit Café, is up at three in the morning mixing up their potions and concoctions, which are packed up and ready for clients to pick up from 7.30am each day of the Cleanse.
Clients get four juices, a smoothie and a blended soup on the Monday, Wednesday and Friday. On Tuesday and Thursday one of the juices with a Chai seed pudding. Those smoothies, soups and puddings are important during a Cleanse, they provide the fiber that keeps things moving along in the way that Glen described earlier.
At the Café, situated just down the road from a yoga studio, I try the Blood juice smoothie – it’s made of beets and apples and has ginger and lemon for a little zing. It looks like a glass of liquid rubies. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a beautiful color. It’s sweet and “kinda earthy”.
Next I try the pudding. It is simply Chia seeds soaked in almond milk. This is the stuff that the legendary super-athletes, the Tarahumara Indians, use to fuel their long distance runs. It doesn’t taste of much: Tapioca-ish in texture with a delicate hint of almonds - it’s mixed with the nutmilk that’s made in the Café.
Nice, but is this really enough food? Glenn says it is, “If you had to lay out all the food that is put into the bottles we prepare each day, you’d be surprised how much food was there. It would take up the whole table,” he tells me. “We actually have more people calling us to say that they’re having trouble finishing their juices than those calling to say that they’re hungry,” adds Lisa.
Indeed, the pretty pink smoothie Glenn serves up next is a lot more substantial. This one has Brazil nut milk, raspberries and dates for a little sweetness, mesquite powder to balance blood sugar and Sun warrior protein powder to stave off hunger.
Are all the juices good? “You’re going to get 32 different things to consume on the cleanse, no juice is repeated, “ says Glenn. “it’s unlikely that everything will appeal to your taste. Some you’ll like more than others.” But it’s all good stuff in there.
“Our juices, soups and smoothies are all packed with low glycemic-index, seasonal foods. We sweeten with dates, thicken our soups with avocado and avoid banana because of its binding effects,” says Lisa
Both Lisa and Glenn are always accessible via phone or e-mail during the Cleanse to support their clients. They send out instructions on how to prepare for the Cleanse and how to come off it. “The Cleanse program was very well organized,” says Elise Gabriel, one of the Café’s clients. When a bad snow storm was forecast, “they even worked ahead so we could pick up the next day’s juices the afternoon before,” she adds.
The Catch a Healthy Habit Café Cleanse is limited to 20 people and costs $300 for the five day program.
Next I head off to The Stand Juice Company in Norwalk, run by Carissa Dellicicchi and Mike Hvizdo. Like Catch a Healthy Habit, this one is also within spitting distance of a yoga studio. The Stand offers a five day cleanse for $350 consisting of six 16 oz juices, two of which are smoothies. After clients have completed this cleanse, they can sign up for a three or four day cleanse for maintenance at anytime. “There are no exceptions to this rule,” says Carissa. “We believe that once you’ve done the five day Cleanse, you will have a better understanding of your body and how it will respond to cleansing. People don’t usually feel great until the fourth or fifth day and we want the first experience to be positive.”
“Our Cleanse alkalizes the body and oxygenates the blood, putting it in the best position to ward off illness,” says Carissa.
At the Stand, Carissa has five juices from the Cleanse lined up for me to taste, all made with organic, living whole foods. I’m slightly disappointed to see that “The Nasty,” a scary concoction of greens, garlic, ginger and cayenne, which is available on the regular menu, will not be part of my tasting today.
Instead I have a light cucumber juice, with which all The Stand’s cleansers start their mornings – a gentle refreshing way to start. The next juice is a little greener and a lot “nastier.” It’s a blend of apple, kale and ginger, which is a little like drinking a salad. The almond milk I’m served up next, with a dusting of cinnamon is much more to my liking and has a little more substance. I then try The Stand’s lemonade – lemon with a dash of ginger. This one I like a lot. “That one is our lemonade that we bottle and sell right here at the stand every day. Not just on the Cleanse,” says Carissa. A thick green smoothie is the last thing I taste. This is where the fiber is found. It’s a mix of kale, cucumber, ginger, apple and Agave nectar.
The Stand begins its Cleanses every Monday, with juices available for pick up between 8am and 9am. “At the beginning and end of the week, we’ll incorporate higher caloric ingredients like nut milk, avocado and some sweeter flavors like beets, but by the middle of the Cleanse, on Wednesday, we’re down to the bare bones, serving up more of the green juices, which have very little sweetness. We then build back up again, adding more fiber, fruit and nut milk at the end of the week,” says Carissa.
Next I head over to Kaia Café, situated at the Kaia Yoga in Westport (what is it with yogis and juice cleanses?) where manager Carrie Perkins has set up a two day cleanse for me. Groggy and already missing my morning coffee, I pick up seven bottles and a tiny container of something green and evil looking from the beautiful Kaia Café. “About 50 to 60 people do our Cleanses each week. It resets the body and eliminates cravings for salt and sugar. Many of our clients do the Cleanse every couple of months.” At Kaia clients can choose from a one, two or three day Cleanse. The Cleanse costs $50 per day.
The instructions accompanying my bag of bottles have me drinking one of these huge juices every two hours, which definitely wards off any hunger pangs, but leaves one feeling a little cold in the middle of January. Carissa at The Stand suggests that one take one’s juice out of the fridge about half an hour before one drinks it so that it can warm to room temperature.
Like the other two establishments, Kaia’s first drink of the day is green and cucumber-ish, but is also laced with spinach, parsley, acai, kiwi, lemon and spirulina - a protein-rich alga. At 10am, as per the instruction sheet, I reach for the next juice, similar to Catch a Healthy Habit’s Blood juice, this one is made of carrots, apples, beets, grapefruit, ginger and green tea extract. It’s delicious. Not so nice is one of the afternoon concoctions, the wheatgrass shot accompanied by the cucumber, lemon and ginger “chaser.” Kaia warns that you’ll either “love it or hate it.” It’s the latter for me, but what I do really love is the final drink of the day. It’s called Nidra and it’s a mix of cucumber (again!), pineapple, mint, aloe and kelp. For some reason I sleep more deeply and soundly than I have in a long time – could it be caffeine withdrawal?
On day two of the Kaia Cleanse, and I’m not feeling that great and I don’t really feel like drinking the green pond like liquid on offer. Still, I persevere. Today one of the drinks is repeated, it’s called Agni, and I recognize it from the famous Master Cleanse or Lemonade Diet. It consists of water, lemon, cayenne and maple syrup. Again, the night time drink is delicious. This one is Coconut water, pineapple, strawberry, mint, aloe and Kelp.
The day after my Cleanse I wake up with a very flat stomach and am 2 lbs lighter. “Don’t worry,” my mother-in-law assures me, “you’ll put it right back on when you start eating again.” She’s right, but what doesn’t come back is my morning craving for coffee and my 5.30pm pinot grigio habit. My skin seem brighter and I’m sleeping a lot better.