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Chef Talk: Karen Odierna of CROPJuice

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Karen Odierna of CROPJuice with her 13-year-old daughter, Abby.

Karen Odierna of CROPJuice with her 13-year-old daughter, Abby.

Karen Odierna, the founder and “chief mixologist” at CROPJuice (2320 Gulf Gate Dr., Sarasota, 923-8640, cropjuicesrq.com) in Gulf Gate, is South Sarasota’s juicing authority. With her 20-plus years of experience teaching exercise classes, as well as her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Florida, Odierna takes a liquid approach to nutrition and wellness.

Q: Your educational background is in nursing and fitness, so how did you transition to becoming a juice expert?

A: I’ve always been into health and fitness. Blending, juicing, and using green powders and protein powders have been a part of my lifestyle for many years. I always knew the importance of nutrition, but since I spent a lot of time at the gym, I didn’t restrict or really give my diet much thought. After all, if I was working out so shouldn’t I be able to eat whatever I want? I now know that looking and feeling good is not just about making a trip to the gym. Teaching kickboxing is the easy part. Making lifestyle and diet changes is the real challenge.

Q: Why are you so passionate about juicing? 

A: In April 2013, I was introduced to cold-pressed juicing by one of my good friends who was recovering from breast cancer. I did some research and invested $2,500 in a Norwalk cold press juicer. I had to know if cold-pressed juice from this machine was everything it was cracked up to be. I couldn’t believe the results I saw when I gave a leafy green juice to my boyfriend who was exhausted after a long day of work, and it brought him from a complete state of lethargy to an alert, energized powerhouse. I was witnessing an instant infusion of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients into his bloodstream. I started sharing nutrient-dense, leafy green juice with family and friends, and the results were overwhelmingly positive. I became so passionate about this labor of love that I just had to start a business. The CROPJuice store opened at the end of January.

Q: How has juicing changed the way you look at food?

A: I love that leafy green juice has helped decrease my cravings for bad sweets. Raw, living juice is loaded with essential enzymes and nutrients that nourish and heal. When you’re giving your body what it really needs, you will find that you have fewer cravings for refined sugars. I still enjoy my treats, but instead of grabbing a typical candy bar, I go for something like a raw, organic macaroon. There are many delicious and healthy treats available. Juicing—especially organic juicing—has benefited me most by making me more accountable and aware of the foods I consume on a daily basis.

Q: You are not only a purveyor and maker of juice, but people also come to you for guidance. What are some of your biggest health tips? 

A: Consuming raw juice is a lifestyle choice and I’m a strong believer that it should be incorporated into our daily routine. We certainly feel the best and function at optimal levels when we complement an already healthy lifestyle with the consumption of easily assimilated, living, organic juice. However, we are also realists and we don’t live in a perfect world. Unfortunately, the median daily vegetable intake among adults in the United States and Florida is 1.6 times per day and 1.1 times per day for fruits (from the CDC State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables, 2013). The latest dietary guidelines call for five to 13 servings (2.5 to 6.5 cups per day). If you do not like to “eat” your veggies or fruits, juicing is a great way to increase your daily intake.

Q: What has the feedback been like since you opened your store?

A: Our fans love leafy greens. Since opening, we have created two new 100 percent veggie juices for our customers who didn’t want any fruit in their juice. We also increased the amount of leafy greens from six to eight cups in these 12-ounce juices. We are thrilled to hear wonderful success stories about improved health from juicing. We are beyond grateful and appreciative for the love and support we have received.

THE ULTIMATE VEG JUICE

Ingredients:
(Amounts can be arbitrary depending on preferred flavors, but as a general rule, 8 cups of leafy greens yields 4 ounces of juice)
Kale
Chard
Romaine lettuce
Tomatoes
Carrots
Celery
Cucumber
Dill
Parsley
Limes
Cayenne pepper

Method:
Run ingredients through a high-quality cold press juicer. Pour mixture into a bottle, chill, shake and serve.

 

Last modified: August 19, 2014
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