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SPRING CLEANING: Clean Juice brings Wilmington a different kind of buzz

I’m used to writing about beer and nachos.That being said, reviewing a juice bar was fairly off-the-radar for me as a food writer. As a person who enjoys the 80/20 lifestyle (you know, 80-percent healthy, 20-percent indulgence); however, this was an intriguing subject matter to slurp.

LOAD UP: Clean Juice packs a great deal of nutrients into their Green Bowl, Recovery One smoothie, Immunity One juice, and other offerings. Photo by Tom Dorgan

LOAD UP: Clean Juice packs a great deal of nutrients into their Green Bowl, Recovery One smoothie, Immunity One juice, and other offerings. Photo by Tom Dorgan

Everyone’s aware of the juice trend, but wheatgrass-slamming hippies are a stereotype of the past. Millennials (and much of society these days) are done with dieting fads and more focused on making healthy decisions daily. For all of us who can’t afford a fancy zillion-dollar juicer in the home kitchen, places like Clean Juice are making choices more accessible and nourishing.

Juicing is not an inexpensive hobby. One glowing 12-ounce cup filled with the good stuff set me back about $7.

I could have gotten a Tuesday flight at Flytrap and a side of pimento cheese with that money, I first thought to myself.

But before judging a place like Clean Juice on the price tag, it’s important to understand from where the bang for your buck comes.

The movement of superfoods is as simple as this: Our bodies tell us how to feel based on what we put in them. The process of extracting necessary vitamins we crave from superfoods might not be brain surgery (put a carrot in a machine and hit a button), but the quantity it takes to make one 12-ounce cup of magic is actually in line with the cost. The point is: Anyone who plans on juicing every day of the week will see it’s a pricey habit to keep up. However, incorporating a periodic cup of healing ingredients to add nutrients and help flush out toxins will prove the rewards and benefits reaped are totally worth the Benjamens.

Now, let’s talk Clean Juice. This quaint little corner shop on Innovation Drive in Mayfaire sprang up last year. They offer mid-towners and downtowners a closer, more convenient açaí-bowl fix. The store itself is fairly small but serves its purpose as a grab-and-go spot. Diners who can’t wait to dig in will find a few scattered seats.

When summer rolls around, I’m an açaí junkie—so a big ol’ bowl was first on my ordering list. Not everyone loves the berry’s tart, chocolatey flavor, so I was glad to see the option of different bases. I went for the “Green Bowl,” which is more “intense,” according to their menu. (I am a Scorpio, after all.) The mixture of açaí, spinach, kale, banana (for minerals), honey, matcha (for fat-burning), and almond milk was smooth, slightly sweet, and had a hint of leafiness. On top: granola, banana and honey. This is a bizarre ingredient to have enjoyed, but, damn, that honey was fresh. Clean Juice has the classic, deep-purple açaí bowl and they offer smoothies that can be eaten with a spoon.

For a taste of an actual smoothie, I chose one from the protein category with the help of the friendly (and informative) cashier. She said “Recovery One” was the best-selling of that particular bunch, but I found it a little on the bland side. For pros, the concoction was airy and fluffy as could be—but on the downside, the strawberry and almond butter flavors were masked. I would’ve upped the nut butter for richer flavor, but that’s just my personal opinion. All in all, it didn’t blow my mind, but it wasn’t by any means bad. The drink also came with my name (spelled correctly) and a much-appreciated Sharpie smiley face on the side.

Smoothie: B. Customer service: A+.

The top-seller for juice is “Immunity One.” I coughed a few times today; why not? The liquid winner was mega-packed with Vitamin-C rich foods, like oranges and carrots. Its fluorescent yellow color should not be a turnoff. That’s just my good friend, turmeric. The health benefits of this root are infinite. Seriously, got 30 minutes? Google it. In addition to the cold protection, digestive aids and reduced inflammation, it tasted delicious. Thanks to the pineapple, the sweetness was on point and balanced the citrusy end notes of lemon. The turmeric had a bold zing similar to ginger. Word to the wise: Don’t spill it on clothes. I tested the two varieties of Immunity One: one made in front of me and one simply dubbed “Orange,” which was pre-made and sealed in the grab-and-go fridge. Both were equally fresh and tasty. Don’t waste cash at the drug store. Next time you feel a flu coming on, run to Clean Juice.

My last stop was the a classic “Green” juice. I spotted a small pre-made 8-ounce bottle and decided to give it a go. Anyone familiar with brands like Naked or Bolthouse Farms, both of which make their own versions of “green juice,” will find although those bottles brag on having no added sugar, they still hit the sweet spot. Don’t expect that of Clean Juice’s Green, else a disappointed face will follow (picture Sloth from “The Goonies”). Instead, prepare for a health boosting celery and cucumber beverage. Despite its vibrant emerald color, the kale and spinach are background notes in the hydration-powered, low-sugar, high-vitamin drink.

What’s that? Can’t stomach a glassful of veggies? Just ask for help. Clean Juice awaits.

DETAILS:
Clean Juice
Mayfaire Town Center
917 Innovation Dr.
Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Sat., 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Sun., 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
910-239-9102
www.cleanjuicebar.com

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, 910tix.com. Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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