North Fork tonics to make you feel better this spring

The Bliss at The Giving Room features turmeric as a relieving ingredient. (Credit: David Benthal photos)

To categorize juicing as a health food fad is like calling rosé a trendy wine — both have been around for centuries, have recently surged in popularity and aren’t going out of style anytime soon.

They are also both best pursued in moderation. 

“Juices shouldn’t be the basis of your diet,” said culinary nutritionist Stefanie Sacks of Montauk, founder of Reboot Food. “They can be wonderful additions when integrated into a [solid] food diet.”

The benefits of juicing, experts say, truly come down to knowing how each herb and plant affects you personally.

“Knowing your body and how it reacts to different plants will take you far,” said Courtney Lee Hall, certified herbalist at Sang Lee Farms.

For Colleen McCaffery of Mattituck, practicing yoga and drinking kombucha regularly has eased digestive discomfort related to her multiple sclerosis diagnosis. A fermented tea chock full of probiotics, kombucha is linked to better digestion and reduced inflammation.


MON CHERIE KOMBUCHA

Features cherries, apples, cinnamon and is full of probiotics.

Aura Yoga, Mattituck 


Shortly after opening her yoga studio, Aura, last fall, McCaffery began offering three types of organic kombucha on tap. Calmbucha, a producer based in New Paltz, makes each of the varieties in small batches.

“I knew from the beginning I wanted to have it on tap,” McCaffery said. “For me, with my MS, my gut was very affected. The probiotics helped with the flow of movement. It makes me feel better inside and out.”

But it’s not just McCaffery who offers beverages with medicinal value as a supplement. A fondness for juicing goes beyond yoga clientele and those seeking to drop a few pounds fast, said Paula DiDonato, owner of The Giving Room Market and Juice Bar.

Since opening the juice bar in her Southold yoga studio seven years ago, demand has risen to peak levels. DiDonato started with one juicer and now uses seven to keep pace.

Popular ingredients in juices, smoothies and fermented drinks, such as turmeric and apple cider vinegar, have known anti-inflammatory properties. The Giving Room’s Bliss Smoothie, a riff on golden milk, is a combination of house-made almond milk with vanilla, dates, cinnamon, carrots and turmeric sourced from MarGene Farms in Mattituck. All the juices are organic and locally sourced when possible.

“Turmeric is the hero of the drink,” said DiDonato. “It lifts your mood. People start feeling better as soon as they drink it.”

“Turmeric and cinnamon are anti-inflammatory powerhouses,” said Sacks, noting the benefits of the beta carotene in the carrots while cautioning about the amount of natural sugars provided by the dates.


The Bliss

Blends organic housemade almond milk, vanilla, organic dates, cinnamon, carrots and turmeric.

The Giving Room, Southold 


There is consensus that juices and smoothies need to be organic in order to be beneficial.

“The whole point is to drink it fresh, not pre-made,” said Shelly Scoggin of The Market in Greenport, which has been serving juices for more than 30 years. “It’s not worth it if it’s not organic, because then you’re just concentrating pesticides into a glass.”

The Market’s selection of organic drinks includes Detox Lemonade, a mix of aloe vera, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, water and agave. Since it was introduced two summers ago, it’s been a hit with the winery-going crowd and those looking to kick off a diet, Scoggin said.

“Lemon is cleansing and a powerful immune booster,” said Sacks. “Aloe vera itself is healing for the digestive system, but the acidity in apple cider vinegar can affect people in different ways.”


Detox Lemonade

Combines apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, water,  agave and aloe vera.

The Market, Greenport 


There is also such a thing as too much of a good thing, Hall said, advising that people not consume any one particular juice every day of the week.

“Take it one superfood plant at a time,” she said. “When you’re putting 10 superfoods in your smoothie at a time, you’re not sure which are working for you and which are not. Start with drinking one herb or just using turmeric in your tea one day and connect to it and see how it resonates.”

And if you truly are turning to juices to cure a hangover, keep in mind that’s not exactly your best path to recovery.

“If you have a hangover, drink lots of water,” Sacks said. “It’s really all about moderation with everything.”