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The Juice Girl cleanse, laughing at me.

Image: Alice Levitt

The whole rainbow of bottles was taunting me. When Gretchen Todd reached out to me at the start of the New Year to offer a daylong cleanse from her company Juice Girl, I had the best of intentions. I'd never tried a cleanse before, it was the New Year, my body has been working excessively hard to process a glut of fried plantains, why the heck not? Todd arrived at my office proffering a heavy box plastered with a sticker with printed instructions: "Drink a juice every 2-3 hours in order numbered. Drink at least 6 cups of water per day. Warm lemon tea AM & PM. Drink ginger-lemon shot AM or afternoon—helps with fatigue." Other than instructions for squeezing half a lemon into eight ounces of warm water to make the "tea," that was it.

Todd also shared her theory that more than a day of liquid fasting can do more harm than good, making juicers so hungry that they're set up for a binge. One day seemed reasonable. I asked if the nutritional benefits of the juices would remain if I did the cleanse the day after next, which she confirmed, though some raw foodists say the slurries begin to leach vitamins and minerals immediately. I was unable to find data to prove either theory. 

But it doesn't matter. On Saturday, when I planned to cleanse, I ended up having a dinner date. Then I figured I might as well visit a restaurant for an upcoming top 10 list for lunch. Sunday, I had a meal for a review planned. And so on. By Tuesday, I figured out that in my line of work, a day-long cleanse is not even in the realm of possibility, which may be the most first-world problem anyone has ever had. So nutrients or not, I embarked on starting each day with a juice, instead. 

I admittedly played fast and loose with the order, knowing that it didn't matter anymore. But I did start with No. 1, Turn it On, a thick concoction of pineapple, mango, kale, spinach and both hemp and chia seeds, loosened and sweetened with coconut water. It was far more tropical and sweet than sludgy and green, despite what the ingredients might suggest. And that was what I found as I tasted my way through all six. Green Glow, with the kale and hemp, but also cucumber and celery, had a vegetal edge, but turmeric and ginger lent an aromatic, spicy burn. One of my favorites, Go Green, had all of the above veggies, but also cilantro, parsley and lime, but never once made me think of a tomato-free V8. Not all of the juices are green—the Cashew Date Shake tasted like cinnamon-flecked cake batter and Energize was sweet and light with apples, carrots beets and ginger.

Am I any healthier than I was a week ago? Probably not, but I have a new appreciation for starting the day with a cool, refreshing juice, particularly if it's one of Todd's, which I found especially well-balanced. After all, there are many days when the closest things I eat to vegetables at lunch are fried plantains. A bottle of juice gives me an early advantage.

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