Ottawa's juice scene (if that's a thing) has damn near exploded lately. It used to be if you wanted tasty juice without additives or nasty stuff, you'd be making it at home with a fancy $500 juicer. And let's face it: like most single-use items, those fancy juicers end up collecting dust in a cupboard. But now you'll find organic cold-pressed juices all over town, whether you're grabbing lunch, finishing a yoga class, or popping by your local coffee shop. Juice is EVERYWHERE. And I love it.
It can be a healthy snack, a pick-me-up, and dare I say even an alternative to coffee / tea. One of the most prevalent makers in town is Urban Juice Press, whose colourful bottles you may have spotted at Green Rebel, Yogatown, BlumenStudio, or at their little shop next to the Parkdale Market. I love juice but had never tried theirs, so I popped by to meet the crew and learn their story.
Back in 2010, Justin Gauthier became ill and was diagnosed with Crohn's disease, an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the colon to the point where ulcers and open wounds destroy the colon’s lining. Which sounds horrendous.
Eating became extremely painful for Justin, and at random points throughout the day he'd have terrible abdominal pain, the kind that makes you want to curl into a ball and stay in bed all day. He felt his prescribed regimen of prednisone and immune-suppressants simply wasn't working, so he decided enough was enough and began exploring other options.
He discovered juicing, and over a few months he noticed the cramps were disappearing and began to feel normal again. He's now proud to say he's been free of Crohn’s-like symptoms since 2011 and has gained his normal weight back. Understandably, he believes there's a powerful lesson to be learned about the impact of nutrition on health and disease.
Now, I'm certainly not going to suggest juice can replace medicine, but for Justin, listening to his body and making some changes helped him feel a whole lot better. And as his condition improved he decided to launch Urban Juice Press so he could share his organic, cold-pressed juices with everyone.
Urban Juice Press has grown into quite the local powerhouse, complete with 8 cold-pressed juices, 3 nut milks / superfood drinks, 4 different cleanses, and a beautiful shop on Spencer at Parkdale. Justin kindly set me up with his 2-day juice and nut milk cleanse and I got down to business.
I'd done a one-day juice cleanse once before, but this was my first time experimenting with anything longer than that. The cleanse consisted of 20 little bottles (250ml each), and Justin recommended I drink one every 1.5-2 hours to keep my sugar levels even. So I packed up my armload of bottles and off I went.
I'm not gonna lie: I live for pizza, doughnuts, bacon, and more pizza, so this wasn't easy for me. I'm not one of those folks who's like "oh yeah, I could juice forever" (kudos if that's you) because holy hell, all I could think about was all the delicious things I wanted to eat. But I decided to be a grown-up about it and push my way through.
I did my very best to stick to Justin's suggested schedule of one bottle every hour and a half or so, and there were so many bottles that after number three I wasn't thinking about food much any more. I spent the day doing all my usual things: working on the blog, doing errands, sending emails, shopping online (oops), and puttering around the house. I'd planned to do my usual workout that night at Iron North so before I went I downed the Creamy Cashew milk. It was freaking delicious (cashew, maple syrup, vanilla, and cinnamon), gave me a quick hit of calories and healthy fats, and kept me from feeling light-headed at the gym. Surprisingly, I survived my workout and noticed that felt light on my feet the whole time. Like more than usual. Go figure.
Day two was hard. As I stared down 10 more bottles of juice, I knew they were doing good things for me but boy did I want a croissant. I paused for a sec to daydream about the pain au chocolat I'd get the next morning at Art-Is-In, then put on my big girl pants and opened another bottle of juice. I felt pretty tired during day two (perhaps I'd entered the true detox phase of the cleanse?) so I took it easy working from home, doing yoga with the cats, and taking a bubble bath (obvs). I'll wager that if you're doing a longer cleanse, day two is the tough spot til you hit your rhythm. But all complaining aside, I stuck with it and felt amazing when I woke up the following morning. And then I got that chocolate croissant.
So overall: yes it was challenging but holy cow did I ever love some of these juices. My top three faves from the whole bunch were Immune Supercharge (packed with beets, easily my favourite vegetable), Creamy Cashew (this one will keep you from feeling hangry), and Happy Rabbit (who knew combining carrots and pineapple would be so tasty?). I will be drinking lots and lots of these juices even when I'm not on a cleanse.
If you love veggies you'll do very well with Urban Juice Press since all their blends are veggie-forward and low on fruit. That said, if you're more of a fruit person or have a sweet tooth, this is gonna be a bit of a struggle. I fully admit I had the toughest time with the green juices, and there were plenty of them. But if you chase it with a delicious (and beet-packed) Immune Supercharge it ain't so scary.
Now you may be thinking "geez, that's a lot of bottles, do I throw them all in the recycling?" No!
Urban Juice Press just launched a new rewards program:
Every time you return 10 of their juice bottles (rinsed please!), you'll score a free juice! So if you do a 3-day uuice cleanse and return 30 rinsed bottles to their shop, you'll get 3 free juices. Their rewards program also lets you to earn points and receive more free product! For more info, head to their website or drop by their shop.
Want to win some juice? But unsure about a full-blown cleanse? No worries, I got you.
I'm giving away an Urban Juice Press 6-pack! This is a mix-n-match situation, which means one lucky winner can pick any six bottles and try a whole variety without the commitment of a juice cleanse.
Sound good? Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below and I'll announce a winner next Wednesday, February 17! Best of luck and this baby's for local Ottawa residents only.
We have a winner! Congratulations to EMILY KOSTANDOFF, the lucky winner of a pick-n-mix 6-pack of juices from Urban Juice Press! Enjoy your juices, Emily, and be sure to share a few pictures with us!
A big thank you to the over 2,000 of you who took the time to enter -- you folks sure love juice! Swing by Urban Juice Press' boutique in the heart of the Parkdale Market to grab a bottle for yourself.