Drink your vegetables.
From parents to the National Institutes of Health medical research center, "eat your vegetables" has been the mantra for decades.
Today, it's possible to consume them in a big way, with one 32-ounce drink equaling five or six servings of fruits and vegetables.
Juice bars are popping up all over Long Island, from mom-and-pop places to chains. Juicing machines pulverize the vegetables and fruits -- from kale and spinach to carrots and berries -- into liquid form. Many juice bars add herbs and spices, such as turmeric and ginger, to pump up the nutritional value.
BENEFITS OF JUICE
Proponents say the vitamins and minerals stay intact and make it possible to drink more nutrients than someone would probably eat at one sitting, giving a shot of energy and overall well-being.
"My daughter swears by it," says Lori Page of Muttontown, who was drinking a pungent concoction called Dragon's Breath ($9) at Organic Avenue in Roslyn Heights. Dragon's Breath contains lemon, ginger, cayenne pepper, coconut sugar and purified alkaline water.
At a Massapequa health food store, Organic Corner, the juice bar in the back has some comfy chairs and sofas for customers.
"It's like a health food Starbucks," says co-owner Craig Margulies, with ingredients that are "100 percent organic." The store's bestsellers are the Essential Green (cucumber, celery, parsley, spinach or kale, and green apple) and Essential Red (beets, carrot, red apple, lemon), as well as Essential Orange (carrot and ginger).
All drinks ($5-$6) are made at the time of order, and ingredients can be changed at a customer's request, as with most juice bars.
Much like the research showing the importance of exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle and longevity, Margulies attributes the proliferation of health food stores and juice bars as a "conscious awakening," saying "people are starting to spend money on prevention."
"You can't let the medical arena take care of you," Margulies says.
Juicing can take the place of a meal or supplement one. Many juice bars also offer cleansing juice programs, but it's best to check with a doctor before embarking on a juice "diet."
It's wise to remember that as nutritious as they may be, even juices can have high calorie and sugar counts, depending on the types of fruits and vegetables used, says Nancy Copperman, director of public health initiatives for North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System.
For instance, it might take three or four oranges to make a glass of fresh orange juice, or five to six carrots for a vegetable concoction.
"You can consume a lot of calories without the fullness of eating an orange," she says.
Juice aficionados should make sure to round out their daily diets with the right amount of proteins and carbohydrates, she adds.
But adding lots of plant-based foods to a diet through juicing has plenty of benefits, too.
"It invites people to try different fruits and vegetables that they may not want to try on a plate," and allows for more vegetables to be consumed, she adds.
TAKING A TASTE
Chris Weill, who owns the ZenWay Natural Food Market of Bay Shore with his wife, Lauren, says regulars come in daily for juices, particularly wheatgrass shots ($2.50).
"It's two pounds of greens in one shot," says Weill. "These days, there's too much processed food." For that reason, he doesn't think juicing is just a fad.
Linda Layton, 50, of Bay Shore, is one of the regulars who shows up just about every day for a shot of wheatgrass.
"I love it," says Layton.
In Southold, The Giving Room, a yoga and meditation place, was expanded two years ago to include a juice bar. It's part of the natural progression of taking care of one's body and the planet, says co-owner Paula DiDonato.
Staff members make juices right in front of customers, using organic fruits and vegetables. DiDonato likes using turmeric, which she said she believes has healing powers.
The Sun Burst, made from two large carrots, an orange, half a lemon, turmeric and pineapple, is served like the rest of the juices, in Mason jars ($5-$9). Produce -- such as watermelon, blueberries and strawberries -- are added to the menu as they come into season.
At Juice 'N Blendz in Babylon, co-owner Christina Fiore says she has seen people with illnesses as well as inflammatory injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, helped by juicing.
"It's holistic medicine," she says.
LI JUICE BARS
Here's a sampling of some LI spots that serve fresh-squeezed blends.