Diary of a Juice Cleanser

If the holiday season didn’t kick your health conscious ways to the curb, clearly you didn’t have a good time. Or, you’re much stronger than the rest of us. But with the New Year brings a need for rejuvenation, often from the inside out. And for you, dear readers, I’ve completed such a rejuvenation via a juice cleanse and reported back on the results (someone had make sure it was delicious). As a first time juicer it wasn’t all smooth sailing upon the liquid diet seas. While seasoned cleansers may scoff at the mere 120 hours of me trying not to stuff my face with tortilla chips, here are my brief highs and lows of my first cleanse, made possible by Anthony Spadaro and his Tiny Empire line of organic cold-pressed juices. Spoiler alert: it was all delicious and I lived to talk about it.

Day Before the Cleanse:

Before I walked out of the store with the first two days worth of juice, I was told three simple things to remember:

● Like a baby that needs a bottle, the juices should be drunk every two hours. The heavier juices come at the end of the day to settle any lasting hunger pangs. ● Since I drink coffee, I may get slight headaches. I’ve compounded this with the fact that I quit coffee cold turkey the day of the cleanse and anticipate a world of pain. ● Relax and take it relatively easy; try not to push myself through vigorous exercise.

I walked out with my liquid gold, set to commence.

Day 1

"Romantic Hopes to Feel Awesome"

I imagine that the first juice of any first detox is like a first date: so full of hope with only great expectations to feel terrific afterwards. So, in the spirit of a romantic rendezvous with getting healthy, I sip my morning juice dutifully and find that its a refreshing, jolting blend of orange, grapefruit & cayenne that packs a punch and stings my lips. But I feel better already and it’s only 10:30 in the morning.

Two hours later, I crack open juice #2, a blend of cucumber, celery and kale. My first taste of it produced an involuntary face that would probably offend Spadaro. However, a few more sips of the creamy blend follows nicely after the kickstart in the morning. Juice #4 is my favorite from the green bottles, flavorful with hints of green apple and ginger to round out the robust vegetable taste.

In the late afternoon, I feel the forewarned caffeine-withdrawal headache coming on. It only gets worse as the night continues. But sleep (after a dinner of ruby red beet and carrot juice with some almond milk) is a welcome refuge.

Day 2

"Headache gone, but hunger begins."

When I wake up, the headache has subsided. The routine begins all over again, and while I begin to feel lighter, hunger is slowly but surely making a cameo. I quickly realize that the organic almond milk, blended with dates and Himalayan salt is my sweet crutch, able to stave off any uncomfortable thoughts of the number of hours left in the day. It’s only noon? I’m in trouble. The only thing that saves me are copious cups of peppermint tea that gently suppress a growling intestine.

Day 3

"Is this the start of better things to come?"

I found that my energy is holding at a steady frequency, with just a whisper of hunger. I feel lighter by the minute and all while never having to do a morning run! I’m also strangely awake in my decaffeinated state. Granted, when I walked out of the office to pick up an espresso for my boss the whole way back I was sniffing the fumes like a junkie. But at no point did I ever consider blasting my detox with the box of chocolate almond clusters sitting on my desk.

Day 4

"Dreaming of Nachos."

Forget it. Those almond clusters are painful to look at. Today is not about hunger, it’s about texture and the need for salt. Juice is tasting old and routine, vegetable smoothies are more of a nuisance to drink, and for the love of carbs, can you imagine what I must be craving by now? I’d say it fluctuates between a nice piece of chicken covered in cheese and a piece of bacon. Or a big plate of nachos.

Then I think about how great I feel. And I know that I wouldn’t be feeling this fantastic if I was eating chips drowned in sour cream.

Day 5

"Feeling Good, a Little Sad."

I’ve made it to the last day. And it’s actually melancholy. My concerns are less about being hungry and more about how fast I’ll pick up my “poor” habits again. How long will I be able to continue drinking non-caffeinated herbal drinks? How long can I keep from sipping a glass of wine? Will I go back to eating a daily cupful of Hershey’s Kisses? These are the temptations that I’m quite sure will surface faster than I’d like to believe.

To break the cleanse, I’ve been told to eat something easily digestible like steamed vegetables with small amounts of steamed or grilled fish and brown rice. (More vegetables?!)

Still, I’m reeling in the fact that I’ve given my digestive track a rest, while exhibiting psychological discipline in a city that makes it much too easy to fall off the wagon. While I can’t help but love the somewhat superficial perk of slimming down after a mere five days, the real high comes from internally cleaning up and recentering. Whatever your personal journey, a juice cleanse from Tiny Empire is a gift you should give yourself this year. After all, a place like this makes you feel at peace in a big city.

Photos: Diana Tsuchida

This Juice is Worth the Squeeze

Nestled between busy restaurants on North 6th Street and the beaten path of Bedford Avenue lies an organic health oasis called Tiny Empire. Walk in and find yourself facing a rainbow assortment of fresh-pressed juices and healthy dessert options of açai bowls and chia seed pudding. Face the counter and get thoroughly confused on what to order as you decide between earthy, delicious blends like raw cacao, blueberries and maple syrup or kale, coconut meat and bee pollen smoothies.

Certified adrenaline junkie Anthony Spadaro brought Tiny Empire from his first Woodstock location to quirky Williamsburg and as its founder, is as laid back as they come. His mission (and some might say, social experiment) in bringing high quality juice blends go far beyond health reasons: his focus is to build a community of people who find just as much passion in living for nutrition and organic quality as he does, or at the very least, to bring that option to the neighborhood.

While I could wax poetic here about the fresh kale growing out of a box inside the store, the bags of rustic Travelers Bark lining the shelves and the awesome team of juicers he’s assembled, it’s all besides the point. Because after our chat concluded, Spadaro turned the tables on me:

“Why don’t you do the cleanse for five days?” he proposed.

From what I recall, I responded with some awkward laugh. Me? Cleansing? Kept away from my daily dose of an 8-ounce chocolate bar and morning coffee? Yet somewhere between Spadaro’s coaxing and my gut telling me to give it a rest for once in its life I consented, knowing full well this was going to be truly beneficial.

Starting next week on Monday, I’ll be embarking on the journey of the cleanse while providing healthy tips for living, courtesy of Spadaro. And if you’ve never sipped juices for a continuous five days before either, it might just be the best glimpse into watching what happens when a food fanatic gets deprived. The rules, if you may, are six juices a day drunk every two hours plus a bottle of organic almond milk for good measure. Peppermint and chamomile tea are recommended supplements.

Follow along and see how my Tiny Empire detox unfolds and whether it’s right for you, whether you’re a newbie or expert cleanser. After all, one too many trips to the office holiday candy bowl is bound to catch up with you.

Can’t wait to get your juice on? Find Tiny Empire at 142 N. 6th St. between Bedford Ave. and Berry St.

Photos by Diana Tsuchida