HEALTHY EATING Bar turns to juice for midweek boost

Mixologist Stephanie Ruhe of The Mansion on Peachtree turns The Bar into a juice bar each Wednesday with freshly made fruit and vegetable based libations.

Mixologist Stephanie Ruhe of The Mansion on Peachtree turns The Bar into a juice bar each Wednesday with freshly made fruit and vegetable based libations.

By CAROLYN O’NEIL

A man walks into a bar. Then he finds it’s been turned into a juice bar. So, in this scene the punch line is literally punch but it’s still designed to make you smile.

On Wednesdays next to the mixings for martinis, mojitos and a myriad of other popular cocktails, thirsty customers at the Bar at the Mansion on Peachtree in Buckhead see and hear a professional juicing machine at work turning a tower of fresh produce into colorful concoctions.

The Mansion’s mixologist, Stephanie Ruhe, came up with the idea as an alternative to afternoon teas and as a kind of new-age Happy Hour for those who need some midweek motivation, “Like a lot of people today I am really into wellness and make fresh juices of all kinds at home so I decided to plug in a juicer behind the bar and started what I call the Mansion Squeeze.”

Juice couture

Guests can choose one of Ruhe’s five featured recipes such as the “Fresh Start” made with cucumber, strawberry, lemon and celery or “The Green Madness” which is a mix of parsley, cucumber, celery and green apple.

“You should have a base, add something more acidic and something sweet. It’s really the same concept as when I make my cocktails,” she said.

Or you can design your own juice with the award winning mixologist’s help: “Strawberries and ginger are a great combination. Ginger adds a nice kick, but be careful not to use too much.”

Executive chef Eric Chopin of the Mansion’s NEO restaurant creates light bites based on fresh and seasonal produce to enjoy at the bar and after eyeing all of the veggie trimmings in the catch basket of the juicer this resourceful Frenchman proclaimed to gathered guests, “Don’t throw them away! You can use those to make a flavorful stock or a wonderful soup!”

Drink your vegetables

There’s a cornucopia of nutrition studies to support the health benefits of being enthusiastic about eating and drinking fruit and vegetables.

Research findings presented at the Experimental Biology 2009 meeting included a study from the University of Michigan that found participants who ate 1 1/2 cups of tart cherries increased their body’s antioxidant activity significantly ( reducing risk factors for heart disease and inflammation).

Another study, conducted at Baylor College of Medicine, found that participants who drank at least 8 ounces of low sodium vegetable juice as part of a calorie-controlled diet lost 4 pounds over 12 weeks, while those who followed the same diet but drank no juice lost 1 pound.

What is it about juice that’s considered so healthful? It’s basically the concentration of vitamins, minerals and the hundreds of other plant nutrients that you’re consuming when you down a shot of juice.

But registered dietitians caution that juice doesn’t contain the fiber that whole fruits or vegetables contain so isn’t as filling, which could lead you to consume excess calories by drinking too much juice.

I feel better already

Wellness is the new healthy.

A 2008 survey conducted by the Food Marketing Institute found that one of the most powerful drivers of dietary change for folks today is to improve wellbeing; not to treat a disease.

Ruhe said she may even find more fans for Brussels sprouts.

“My favorite juice mix of all time is made of Brussels sprouts, pineapple, ginger and pear,” she said. “I was amazed at how great it tasted!”

So do juices cleanse and detoxify the body? Will drinking them make you thinner or your hair shinier?

You’ll find just as many opinions in the health field as you will recipes to enjoy juicing. Bottom line: Most Americans consume far fewer servings of fruits and vegetables than recommended for overall good health, so if throwing them into a juicer gets you to consume more, whir away.

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