A few weeks ago Clean Plate Charlie told you Boca Raton would be welcoming a new, all-organic, cold-pressed juice bar and raw food lunch stop. Known as Raw Juce, this week the store will be celebrating its opening week, so we caught up with Melanie Haraldson, Raw Juce's very own "raw food guru."
As the store's holistic health and nutrition coach, Haraldson works with customers looking to implement a healthier way of life by providing nutritional counseling and support through a series of detox and cleansing programs using Raw Juce. She even shared her favorite raw food recipe with us: how to make a nutrient-rich chia seed breakfast bowl.
See also: Raw Juce Opening in Boca Raton
Everyone begins their health journey somewhere. For Haraldson, it was simply a way of life from the beginning. Born and raised in Canada, Haraldson came to South Florida several years ago for school, studying business and marketing at Lynn University. Like so many, after a few years working a ho-hum career, she decided to go back to school to learn more about holistic health with the Institute For Integrated Nutrition.
Clean Plate Charlie: How would you describe your approach to health and wellness?
Melanie Haraldson: Going back to school [for holistic health] totally changed my life. I've had the chance to do things I never imagined I'd be able to do, helping people to change their lives through proper nutrition. It's so rewarding. Growing up an athlete, I was always into eating healthy and providing my body with proper nutrition. I just didn't see it as a career choice until later.
Prior to Raw Juce you worked for Whole Foods in Pembroke Pines. What did you do there?
I was the store's healthy eating specialist. I did everything from teach cooking classes and coach 20-day healthy eating challenges, to working with local school programs and meeting with customers for counseling -- even helping to start an organic garden at local schools.
Will you be doing the same work here at Raw Juce?
The counseling, yes, but on a bigger scale. There's only so much I could do meeting with a client once for an hour or so. Here, I have the chance to make a bigger impact on the the people who come to Raw Juce for nutritional coaching.
What is nutritional coaching at Raw Juce?
We offer several juice detoxes, or cleanses. For many who are just starting out, not knowing how to prepare for a detox, or how to transition into solid foods after a cleanse, can be difficult. My role is to support them through the entire process, from beginning to end, and answer any questions they may have.
What type of support do you provide?
I'm not your typical, traditional health nut. I believe the true secret to lasting health and wellness, and living a balanced life, can't be found through a single meal plan or diet. I'm not going to give you a crash diet to follow. I'm going to help you transform your life. My mission is to help people love their bodies, and understand the connection between healthy eating and empowerment in every aspect of your life.
What programs do you offer at Raw Juce?
Consultations are free, and will help you decied which of our cleanse programs is right for you. They can be done here at the store, or over the phone. We have three different programs, starting with a 28-day "breakthrough" cleanse, where I meet with you once a week to discuss your progress. We also have a 90-day "transformation" cleanse, and our six-month "VIP" cleanse, both of which offer two visits per month.
You use Raw Juce during the cleanses, and the menu has over a dozen cold-pressed juices. What are some your favorite, and why?
I love all our "green" drinks. We have five, but I especially love the "Raw Greens," which has parsley, spinach, Romaine lettuce, kiwi, lemon, green apple, kale, chlorella and ginger. I also like "Greenergy," a combination of cucumber, kale, celery, parsley, lemon, ginger, spirulina and raw honey. Most of our drinks have just 120 to 300 calories in a 16-ounce serving, but what's important is that all the produce we use is 100% organic, and our drinks are packed with superfoods like chia seeds, or cancer-fighting ingredients like turmeric.
In addition to smoothies, there's also a good selection of solid, organic lunch options. What's your favorite for a good mid-day pick-me-up?
Our acai bowls are pretty amazing. Acai is a superfood [originating from a palm tree native to the Amazon rainforest] that is rich in antioxidants. [Acai is a rich source of medium chain fatty acids like oleic and linoleic acid, as well as amino acids, protein and various vitamins including vitamins and minerals like magnesium, zinc, calcium, copper, and potassium. Acai also contains polyphenolic compounds that fight inflammation, cancer and aging.] We have four different recipes to choose from, and each one is topped with raw organic ingredients like raw cacao nibs, almonds, coconut flakes, flax and chia seeds -- even gogi berries.
What's the best piece of advice you can give someone looking to change their diet?
I'm on the same journey as everyone else out there. I'm still trying to make healthy choices, every day. My best piece of advice would be: it doesn't matter how big or small the change. What matters is that you try to make one small change every day. It can be as simple as choosing brown rice instead of white rice. After one year, think of all you can accomplish.
This week, Raw Juce will be celebrating its grand opening all week long with a series of special events. For more information visit their charity event Facebook page, and keep reading for Haraldson's chia seed breakfast bowl recipe.
Melanie's Chia Seed Breakfast Bowl
Of course, breakfast is a natural way to start the day on the right food. I'm a big fan of breakfasts that can be made in advance, such as a green smoothie (just give it a good stir in the morning), overnight oats, and this chia pudding. Even though they take just a few minutes to throw together before bed, I sometimes fall out of the habit of prepping them, but man oh man, it makes such a difference to wake up to a nutritious breakfast ready to be enjoyed! This recipe makes 2 servings so you can share it with a loved one, or wrap up the leftovers for your next craving -- which, if you are like me -- won't be far off.
4 tablespoons chia seeds
1 - 1 1/4 cup almond milk (it's great made with homemade almond milk)
2 small bananas, chopped small
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Two pinches of cinnamon
1. Mash bananas in a medium-sized bowl. Stir in chia seeds. Whisk in the almond milk, vanilla, and cinnamon until combined. Place in fridge overnight to thicken.
2. In the morning, place your desired amount of chia pudding into a bowl. You can add more almond milk if you want to thin it out in the morning. Or, if it's too thin, add more chia seeds to thicken it up. Top with a pinch of cinnamon and sliced bananas or strawberries.
Follow Nicole Danna on Twitter, @SoFloNicole.