Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What I Ate Wednesday

I love a good juice cleanse. I took the plunge last year when Gilt was running a discount for the ever-popular BluePrint Cleanse and surprisingly found myself liking green sludge concoctions that make most people recoil in horror. I felt energized and ready to tackle the day, although I was a lot lighter in the wallet than I would prefer. I did a few BluePrint Cleanses, but I kept looking for something with a little more variety and satiety. Much as I liked the green juice, I wasn't a huge fan of most of the other juices offered in the cleanse. There were hits and misses, and I think I've settled on Evolution Fresh as my favorite juice provider, which is terrific, as it's about half the cost of competitors (thanks, Starbucks buyout!).

Anyway, there was a Groupon last week for Jus by Julie for a three day cleanse, and I was intrigued. First, there was a lot more variety than other cleanses, and second, Julie blends her juices, thus keeping the pulpy grass-clipping-like detritus that so many say is important to help regulate blood sugar. This company solves the juice vs. smoothie debate! Ignoring the fact that I struggle to drink pulpy orange juice, I signed right up. That may have been my first mistake.

Each day, you're treated to six juice blends which end up providing you about 1200-1500 calories for a whole day. So really, it's just like having cold gazpacho all day, right?



DAY ONE

I start off the day with "Morning Glory" which lists a blend of romaine, celery, spinach, apple, kale, banana, strawberry, and water. Celery is usually my nemesis. I've yet to find a juice where I can stand the taste of it. Six pounds of greens and lime? I can down that in a heartbeat. Celery with fruit to mask the taste? Yes, that's me spitting it into the sink like I'm six again trying to choke down a tomato.

The first thing I notice about Morning Glory is that it's very watery. Although there's a thickness to it (more gazpacho, less orange juice stringy bits), the flavor isn't as saturated as other juices. Nor is it even as saturated as some of my at-home green smoothies. The second thing I notice is romaine. Lots of romaine. It's not bad, precisely, but I really do feel like I'm drinking salad, and not in a good way. I have no problem with darker, more bitter green juices with a hint of acidic citrus, but these lighter greens seem to throw me a bit. There's a back taste of sweetness which lightens it, and gloriously, I don't taste the celery at all. It basically tastes like watered down romaine and bananas. I'm pretty sure that's laughter and 'I told you so' in the distance.

My second juice is "Spicy Pome-nade" which lists a blend of pomegranate, lemon, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and water. I usually love the spicy-sweet juices - Evolution Fresh's "Sweet Burn" is my favorite wake up in the morning, with its spicy beets and pineapple. While Spicy Pome-nade doesn't top Sweet Burn, it's a close second for my favorite spicy juice. It's lighter on the spice, and there's a strong aftertaste of maple syrup, which may be a turn off for some. The pomegranate lemonade flavors are strong though, and it doesn't have a watered down taste like Morning Glory. I'd buy this as a solo, refreshing drink on a hot day.

My third juice is "Sweet Spin" which lists a blend of spinach, kale, pineapple, banana, mango, and water. Like Morning Glory, I do notice the watered down taste first. It's also very, very sweet. I guess I've gotten used to my lower sugar, all green juices, because I'm sick of the sweetness at this point. I'll probably only drink half of this, and then drink some Evolution Fresh "Essential Greens with Lime" to clear the taste. It's not that Sweet Spin is bad - it's just too sweet, especially following Spicy Pome-nade. It would make a nice breakfast, but for me, it's too sweet to include in an all-day cleanse. I'm missing more vegetable based juices right now.

The fourth juice was "Acai Blend" that contained acai berries, strawberries, banana, and water. Again, watery. What looks like it should be a thick berry smoothie is thin and tepid. Although the acai packs a flavor punch, it still feels like this juice is saturated with flavor like so many other juice companies. I do like the flavor blend of this one quite a bit, but it's another sweet juice. This cleanse is heavy on the fruit (and hence, sugar), and pretty low on veggies. I like juice cleansing because it resets my cravings for sweets. I'm thinking that's not going to happen with this cleanse.

For the fifth juice, "Not So Chunky" lists its ingredients as peanut butter, banana, and water. It has a thick, milkshake-like texture, but no flavor payoff. I'm sensing a theme with Jus by Julie. Since the ingredients are blended, it's probably necessary to have some water to facilitate blending, but each juice has tasted watery. The downside to keeping that fiber? A loss of flavor. The drinks all taste diluted and as if they are missing something - some dimension of flavor. The Not So Chunky would be great with a hit of cinnamon. Many others could do with some of the sweetness toned down and a more earthy, veggie taste. While Jus by Julie isn't bad, it's rather lackluster. I don't have that sense of satiety I've experienced with other cleanses, where the juice is bursting with flavor.

The sixth and final juice for the day is another Sweet Spin. For the most part, I haven't even drank the entire bottle for each juice - it's far too sweet for my tastes. Unlike other juice cleanses, which usually leave me sated and only missing warm food, this cleanse has me craving savory, salty things to counterbalance the sweetness. Perhaps it's another reason it's watered down, as the juice without it would be insanely sweet. A lot of these fruits could be replaced with beets or carrots for only a hint of sweetness. And, there's no reason for three sweet fruits to completely cover over the taste of the greens. Perhaps this would be a good beginner cleanse, but if you're looking to bust cravings, I don't think this is the cleanse for it. With the watered down taste, I keep wondering how much nutrients I'm even receiving with this juice.

DAY TWO

For the second day, I'm supposed to start with another Morning Glory. However, I really can't take that romaine-banana-ness first thing, and I go for an Evolution Fresh Essential Greens instead. I'm not big on starting my day with so much sugar, and the taste of romaine and banana together is something I can't quite mentally talk myself into again.

Next up is a change, where it's simply "Spicy Lemonade" instead of the pomegranate lemonade. This drink is also good, and a bit less sweet than the previous, with only lemons, water, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup. It's basically a take-home Master Cleanse (how do people drink only that for three days??). Unlike some of the other juices, Spicy Lemonade doesn't taste watered down. It is, however, still very sweet. I'm still not able to finish my Jus by Julie juices in one sitting. I think the best thing for Spicy Lemonade would be to add shots of it to my warm green tea. I can't drink a whole bottle of it, but I can get behind using this as a metabolism booster throughout the day.

The third juice is a repeat of Sweet Spin, which isn't bad, and then there's a new challenge for me with "Chia Berry" as my fourth juice. It has chia seeds, lemon, pomegranate, strawberries and water. Yes, when I say chia seeds, I mean those things you spackle on your chia pet to make it grow. The "fun" thing about chia seeds is that, when wet, they become gelatinous, goopy, and make the liquid its in thick. This is great if you want to have a smoothie. This is awful if you can't stand jiggly things and the thought of jello gives you hives. Guess which category I fall into?

I choke down about half of Chia Berry. I want to like it - the taste is full bodied and like eating a fresh, delicious strawberry in June. The texture nearly kills me. An hour later, after two cups of tea, I still feel like I have a few chia seeds stuck in the back of my throat.

The fourth juice is also new, and it's my favorite "mylk" to beat all vegan mylks - "Island Coconut" is an amazing milkshake. Thick, chock full of flavor, and incredibly satisfying. It's so filling, I'm not able to finish it, but not because of gelatinous horror or overload of sugar. It's too rich to down a bottle in one sitting.  I make it only a third of the way through it. I want to use this stuff as creamer in my chai tea. Island Coconut is an amazing concoction of coconut meat, water, dates, and cinnamon. I could see myself buying this one over and over again. It's a winner!

I end the day with another Sweet Spin, wishing for something a bit more savory in nature. So far, this cleanse is a bit of a let down.

DAY THREE

The third and final day is a repeat of previous juices, with the order being Morning Glory (which I skipped), Spicy Lemonade, Sweet Spin, Acai Blend, Not So Chunky, and Sweet Spin.  I would have preferred another Island Coconut and Spicy Pomenade, my two favorites of the cleanse, but hey, beggars can't be choosers. All in all, it's too sweet of a day, and I find myself drinking less of the juice and supplementing with raw veggies and nuts to satisfy my cravings for savory food.

I want to like Jus by Julie, despite the diluted taste of some of the juices. There's a lot of variety, and some of her creations are innovative and flavorful. She has additional juices listed on her website that sound amazing, from "Dr. Green" to "Liquid Summer." I just wish the cleanse had more vegetables and less fruit. I could live with the watered-down taste, but I struggle with the sweetness. At the end of the third day, I don't have a feeling of being reset, like I have with other juice cleanses. Usually, at the end of day three, I find myself craving salads, vegetable soups, and other healthy things. My desire for sugar and treats is greatly diminished. With Jus by Julie, I find myself still wanting that Starbucks mocha, and anything and everything covered with cheese. I want potato chips or pretzels to get that sweet taste out of my mouth once in for all. It's not a success.

Would I buy the cleanse again? No, probably not. However, I would definitely consider buying solo juices, particularly the Island Coconut, to craft my own juice cleanse program. I've come to find that no one juice cleanse is perfect for me - there are always a few juices that I am not quite happy with, and it seems like creating my own is the way to go, picking from different brands to craft a well-balanced plan. I like that Jus by Julie keeps the plant fiber in its juices. Provided the other juices in the DIY plan were lower in sugar, they'd be a great addition to any cleanse. However, I don't think I'd recommend this cleanse to anyone looking for a serious juice cleanse. The juices are tasty additions to your diet, but too sweet to really be sustaining over a three day period.

I like juice cleansing as a short, quick way to help me bust sugar cravings. I also love juice or smoothies to help me get extra fruits and vegetables into my day. However, juice and juice cleansing is not for everyone, so insert the standard medical disclaimer here. I'm not a doctor and I hope to God you're not using this review as medical advice. TL,DR: talk to your doctor if you think juice cleansing might be right for you (Did you just read that in the drug commercial disclaimer voice?).



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