Juicing it up in Florida and Connecticut – Juice Bars and Cafés

In late December 2016, Bob and I visited Sarasota, Clearwater Beach, Safety Harbor, and Tampa Florida to spend some time with family and friends. I wanted to find a way to stay healthy on this trip especially being around so many people when traveling.  It's not easy to get needed vegetables because of eating out often and from dinners at homes where there is little control of the meals prepared (without feeling like a pain the butt to your hosts)...  So I decided to find a place that made juices and/or smoothies so I could get a blast of some nutrients to help me.  Raw food, vegan, and vegetarian juice bars seemed like the best place to get some quick nutrition for an immunity boosting and hopefully anti-inflammatory action. I wanted to try them and to have a juice on hand for breakfast or lunch.  I had tried juicing a few times at home a few years ago (until the juicer broke…) and made some green goddess type of smoothies recently but had never actually visited a juice bar/café/vegan type place.

Here are a few places that we went to over the week on vacation:

Sarasota, FL:
Ionie Retreat * Raw Food Café

Ionie Raw Food Café was our first stop after landing at the airport in Tampa, FL on the way to our friend’s house in Sarasota.  I wanted to get a juice and hopefully find something for my husband to eat.

Ionie’s foods are organic or wild-crafted ingredients, vegan, raw, and gluten-free.  The café eating area inside is small but cozy.  There are also a couple tables outside.  For my juicing needs I wanted something as green as possible with as little fruit/sugar as possible as well to keep it as alkaline as possible.  My choice was Green with Envy a mix of Parsley, spinach, cilantro, kale, cucumber and celery.  It was pretty tasty but with a bit stronger celery taste than I like.  For a light vegan lunch we had their specials of Zucchini hummus & Crackers and Bob had a Gyro: Onion Pita, Tzatziki, arugula and cherry tomato.  It was really tasty and I loved the hummus and crackers.  The crackers had a caramelized onion taste to them.  Yum.  They also had a few juices and assorted salads freshly made to go if you desired.  I really wanted to come back and try their vegan Lasagna because I had read some really good reviews of it online but we ran out of time to stop in again. I liked the Zen vibe here too along with the friendly service and explanations of the juice and food.

The bonus to Ionie Retreat is that it is a Retreat!  They had treatment options that I had never heard of before such as Rolfing, a type of massage, Thai Yoga, and a Crystal light bath.  I so want to go back to Sarasota to try these!

CROP Juice - 2320 Gulf Gate Drive, FL

Next we tried CROP Juice on Gulf Gate in Sarasota.  It happened to be closer to where we were staying and I needed to get a quick juice before we went out for a boat ride. They have a large menu with many juices and smoothies to choose from, organic as well unless noted. It was hard to make up my mind so we were able to taste a few samples of a few of them.  I settled on Camouflage, a spinach, kale, pineapple, green apple, and lemon juice.  That one was a little on the sweet side but good and “green” tasting as well.  They also have daily freshly bottled juices so I got one to go for the next day.

CROP Juice’s owner, Karen Odierna, was interviewed for the Natural Awakening Magazine’s December 2016 edition.  In the article she states “Begin with a commitment every morning to incorporate one habit that benefits your well-being.  Stay active, unwind your brain, and nourish yourself and just breathe.”  Sounds like excellent advice and trying her juices was a step in a healthy direction for me.

And not to forget about dessert, there were some vegan cacao truffles with only maple syrup as a sweetener so I bought a couple for one of the family who is a vegan.  It’s always good to travel with a little flexible cooler so I was able to keep them cold.  I didn’t try them but I liked the ingredients so I may try to make something similar at home.

Onward to Clearwater Beach and…

Organic Goddess Juice Bar & Café, Safety Harbor, FL

We wanted to take a drive through Safety Harbor, one of our favorite small towns, and found Organic Goddess!  Juice heaven again… Gluten Free, Non-GMO, Fresh and Organic. I liked the feel here because it had another element of mind body health, food/juices that align with your chakras.  Now that was cool.  I had the Green Goddess Horta Kale which is:  Spinach, Chard, Celery, Carrot, Apple, Lemon, Ginger, Topped with Lemon Zest.  This was the best tasting blend so far.  Even hubby got in on it and ordered the Third-Eye (Ajna), which is:  Cherry, Blueberry, Carrot, Orange, and Lemon.  He thoroughly enjoyed it.  I could get into hanging out at the Organic Goddess because the counter reminded me of a hometown diner/bar with the chef preparing the food right in front of you.  Order up your juice or lunch while he makes it to order in just a few short minutes.  And it’s easy to just strike up a conversation with someone that way, as we did!  In addition to the café, there is also a boutique that has gifts for sale and the back room is the dance and Yoga studio with many different events available.  It all seems very community oriented as well.  A plus for the Temple Goddess!

Finally, we made our way back home to Connecticut. Then we tried our own hometown juice bar, Pure Alchemy!

Pure Alchemy Juice Bar & Café, Wallingford, CT

This is one of those places that I’ve driven by hundreds of times and always wanted to check it out.  I’m so happy I finally did.  Pure Alchemy has plenty of juices, smoothies, and superfood smoothies to choose from.  The first visit I choose The Afterglow.  It had spinach, celery, apple, lemon, ginger, pear and turmeric.  I really needed that turmeric!  They juice their juices to order as well.  It was so made so quickly and it tasted perfect.  The next day I came back for another one and some lunch.  The Kale Punch did the trick with kale, cucumber, lemon, apple, pear, ginger, and celery.  They had no pear available but that was fine because I wanted less fruit anyway so it was even better for me. 

Pure Alchemy also has many other items available include salads, wraps, entrees, rice bowls, and more.  On the special menu that day was Kale soup.  It was chock full of veggies and I could eat it every day it was so good.  Perfect for a chilly day and filling as well.  Since I’m starting a Whole 30 program (a nutritional reset) in January 2017, I will be visiting here much more since they are also Paleo friendly because they have many vegetable items.  There are several entrees, and plenty of salads to choose from. It’s nice to know I have a place to go when I haven’t planned everything out and need a quick lunch.

Also, what would a juice bar and café be without a delicious vegan dessert?  There were some mouth watering vegan house made chocolates and desserts to choose from.  The best looking of all was the vegan peppermint pie – only a couple of slices left!  Maybe after the Whole 30… ;-) Pure Alchemy has a Face Book page as well that is up to date.  Looking through that I see that they hold many different mind, body, and spiritual related events throughout the year.  Love it!