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The top juice bars and shops in the Tampa Bay area

Our cup runneth over. And we'd better get some OxiClean on that pronto because it's going to leave a doozy of a stain. In Technicolor greens, reds and oranges, the Tampa Bay area is swimming in ambitious new cold-pressed juice bars.

Juicing isn't exactly new — remember Jay Kordich's manic The Juiceman's Power of Juicing infomercials in the 1990s? — but in the past year, juicing has become big business, moving into the mainstream from raw-food fanaticism and Hollywood celebs' fad of the moment. Boosted by testimonials like the film Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead, or the New York Times bestseller Crazy Sexy Diet, advocates make bold claims about the health benefits of juice cleanses. The science is a little wobbly: Does juice really remove toxins better than, say, your liver? Meh.

But here's what we do know. Research suggests a diet high in fruits and vegetables reduces the risk for many leading causes of death (cancer, heart disease) while simultaneously helping with weight management. Also, most research indicates that the majority of Americans don't eat nearly enough fruits and vegetables. Try to eat as many leafy greens as the USDA suggests and you're chewing like a cow for hours on end.

Thus, juice. This new breed of juice shop is not the smoothie shop of yore, which may puree cubes of frozen fruit packed in sugar syrup. These shops use high-tech juicers that squish fresh fruits and veggies up into a slurry and then squeeze it under high pressure to extract all the juice (as opposed to using a rotary-bladed centrifugal machine that heats the juice). Freezing and heating fruits and vegetables, according to these juicing pros, kills some of the nutrients and live enzymes.

Does this "live" juice increase one's metabolism, or boost immunity, or give one boundless energy and a sense of wellbeing? It does if you think it does. Here are some of the players in our local juice revolution.

ST. PETERSBURG

Squeeze Juice Works

675 30th Ave. N, St. Petersburg, (727) 821-1095

Opened Oct. 18 by Kelly Lessem and partner Amy Losoya, this is boutique juice, all cold-pressed and made in small batches. They do a couple of pressings each day and the juice stays alive (meaning all the vitamins and minerals are intact) for up to three days. There are 16 flavors on any given day ($8.99 for 16 ounces), as well as nut milks of almonds and cashews and more medicinal shots whipped up onsite. Lessem, a massage therapist and yoga instructor, came to juicing after being diagnosed with an autoimmune condition, and thus all the juices are purposefully created to address different problems or promote health in different organs. If you're in Tampa, you can pick up Squeeze juices at Yogani. You get a 10-cent deposit back if you return your bottles.

Best one: Hands down one of the best juices I tasted, the One Night in Bangkok, is a beautifully balanced combo featuring carrot, coconut water, cilantro, ginger, cayenne and a bit of lime and salt.

SPRING HILL

Juicey's Juice Bar

Silverthorn Square, 14229 Powell Road, Spring Hill, (352) 573-8932

The Super Angel sings in the color green. That's the name of the juicer that churns out kale and spinach juice or that health food joke punchline, wheatgrass. Juicey's, opened in June, uses locally grown grass, with boosters like bee pollen, flaxseed, echinacea and hempseed in its juices. It's a build-your-own approach: pick one or two juices ($2.25 for 10 ounces), a blend of three or four, or five or more (the price creeps to a still-reasonable $6.54 for 32 ounces). They make smoothies as well but consider these more dessertlike "treats" than the straight-up juices.

Best one: Watch for a minute and you'll see hardbodies amble over from Anytime Fitness and throw back wheatgrass shots with an orange wedge chaser. Follow suit. If you're squeamish, order a big, fresh-squeezed OJ and then sip the eau-de-lawn-clippings shot in between gulps. It's said that wheatgrass detoxifies, increases red blood-cell count, lowers blood pressure and — who knows? — maybe even your taxes.

TAMPA

Swami Juice Tampa Bay

2832 S MacDill Ave., Tampa, (305) 360-3961

Just getting up and running this month, this is an offshoot of a popular juice bar in Boca Raton. Yoga instructors Kerry Hanan, Kim Dionisio and Kelly Koleos (the founder of the Boca store) are in the business of cold-pressed juice with a shelf-life of 96 hours, packaged in glass bottles. They produce the juice in the back and have a small shot bar at the front (different energy shots like ginger, turmeric and wheatgrass) with a grab-and-go case for bottled juices (16 ounces, $10 to $12).

Best one: It's too early to say, but they do a lot of green juices like the Yo Green (sprouts, kale, chard, spinach, cuke, celery, ginger and lemon) or the Swami-ade (pineapple, celery, chard, cuke and wheatgrass).

O.E. Market

125 Hyde Park Ave., Tampa, (813) 259-0125

In November, Oxford Exchange, which already has a zillion moving parts, added another. Adjacent to the gorgeous restaurant-bookstore-giftshop-office space, O.E. Market has opened for grab-and-go pastries, soups, salads, sandwiches and serious juice. They make their own organic almond milk, which you can have swirled into Buddy Brew's divine cold-brewed iced coffee, and they offer five veggie/fruit juices ($8 to $10 for 16 ounces) and two intriguing beverages in which veggies meet TeBella teas.

Best one: The Beet Down is a gorgeously vibrant concoction of beets, lime, carrot and apple. Even someone who quails at veggie juices will enjoy the sweet tang of this one. The Green Bliss of kale, spinach, lemon and apple is also a keeper, but more for the juice veteran.

Fruitwood Standup Market

2203 W Swann Ave., Tampa, (813) 254-7500

Opened in August by Justin Clark in the heart of Hyde Park, Fruitwood keeps focused. They do flatbreads in an oven that burns oak and apple wood, the dough a hearty honey wheat. And to drink? It's cold-brewed coffee and a quartet of juices offered in 8-ounce or 16-ounce bottles, from $3 to $8. From time to time, they tinker with other recipes in the big shiny Ceado juicer, and they were just approved for a beer and wine license, so beverage options will expand.

Best one: Danny Lean Green Lemonade (spinach, romaine, green apple, lemon, ginger and cayenne pepper) is a lively green drink with nice acidity and just a touch of heat. Those still reeling from holiday revelries may prefer the Hyde Park Hangover (oranges, pineapple and coconut water), but the Chance Miller (apples, carrots and beets) and Immune Stimulator (apples, lemons, ginger, garlic, honey) are also nice options. It's adjacent to the Smoothie King, so if you go smoothie over juice, it's one-stop shopping.

Urban Juice

510 N Franklin St., Tampa, (813) 375-9995

The store won't open until March, say owners Todd Lax and Kevin Kenny. For now, you can try their bottled fresh cold-pressed organic juices and cleanses at the Downtown Tampa Farmers Market from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays. But when the Franklin Street store opens in a historic 1895 building, it will be, as Lax explains, "where Starbucks meets Oxford Exchange." By that, he means a place to chillax, with exposed painted brick walls and a tech bar with built in iPads. This "juice house" will offer made-to-order juices as well as a grab-and-go juice and a menu of light, healthy foods. The second floor of the building will be a spa called Veya with eight massage treatment rooms.

Best one: Urban's lineup of juices all have pop culture references as names. The hottest seller (and the one I slurped down at the market) is called the Mona Lisa. No enigmatic smile in sight, it's a refreshing combination of kale, spinach, cucumber, carrot, apple, kiwi and lemon, said to boost immunity, detoxify and fight inflammation.

Laura Reiley can be reached at lreiley@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley on Twitter. She dines anonymously and unannounced; the Times pays all expenses.

What is a juice cleanse, or fast?

Just as it sounds, this is limiting one's diet to only water and freshly made, unpasteurized fresh fruit and vegetable juices from a period of a few days to a few weeks. The claim is that the health benefits from fruits and vegetables are greater in juice form. Certainly, one can consume more fruits and vegetables, and absorb nutrients more quickly, in juice form, and the body doesn't waste a lot of energy breaking down the fiber (some say giving your GI system a "break" has health benefits as well).

Will you lose weight? Probably. The average juice cleanse regimen runs around 1,000 calories to 1,200 calories a day in a series of multi-ingredient juices (sometimes with almond and other nut milks as well) aimed at providing specific vitamins and enzymes.

Bold assertions about the benefits of juice cleanses are fairly unprovable, although it's hard to deny that forgoing some things (processed or fatty foods, refined sugars, meat, alcohol and caffeine) for a period of time can't hurt. Before embarking on a cleanse, consult a doctor if you have any health concerns.

You can buy some juice cleanse products at the stores mentioned in this story, purchase manufactured juices like Suja and BluePrint pressed organic juices at Whole Foods or online, or concoct your own recipes at juice bars such as Xtreme Juice on Dale Mabry or Fitness Bar at Fit2Run at International Plaza in Tampa.

Laura Reiley

The top juice bars and shops in the Tampa Bay area 01/06/14 [Last modified: Monday, January 6, 2014 4:58pm]

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