Here, our writer Melissa Baron dishes up a fun, informative taste of the week. She may also slip in a health tidbit from time to time, because #balance.
It’s a beautiful Sunday morning; I’m dressed in my finest flannel and hip-est beanie, and am on my way to Life Alive, an organic cafe in Cambridge, to take shots. At 10 a.m.
Before you give me two thumbs up, flash a cheesy smile and say, “You do you!” or “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!”--don’t worry, I’ll be shooting back wheatgrass, not whiskey.
“Shots, please!” I say as I get up to the cashier, and she asks me if I want to do them right at the bar. (But I swear it’s not booze!)
After a few minutes, she brings my wheatgrass, turmeric and ginger shots to the table. They were beautiful shades of green, pumpkin orange (well, turmeric, technically) and a lovely light yellow.
I oogle them for a moment before hopping on the phone with one of Live Alive’s owners, Hema Narayan, to break down all the concentrated superfood goodness I’m about to consume.
We start with the wheatgrass...and I have to say, GRASS is right. Now I see why I was instructed to drink it quick. So why drink it at all?
Wheatgrass is one of the best sources of living chlorophyll, said Hema. “Living” means you snip the grass from the living plant and immediately juice it, but it’s efficacy degrades the minute you mow. “Many customers will get a wheatgrass shot to go, so we’ll even have folks call when they’re close to ensure the juice is as fresh as possible.”
The living chlorophyll contained in the grass is great for your blood, is cleansing and is energizing. Wheatgrass also contains enzymes that help with aging (and it’s never too early to anti-age, which is why I still look like a 12 year old). The kicker here is that liquid form is the only way to access these benefits (unless you’d like to consume it goat-style--aka straight outta the dirt--which will not give you the same nutrients and people will stare).
On the subject of accessibility, Hema stresses to me that one of the biggest components to Life Alive’s mission is a “focus on making things accessible for all.” The cafe aims to take something that exists in nature (i.e. wheatgrass), and present it in a way that makes it consumable and enjoyable.
She compares it to having a spa day (#yesplease). Your stress fades away, your skin gets nourished, and you feel great from top to bottom. But you can’t replicate what you experienced when you get home. Similarly, it’s hard to recreate the intensely healthy foods you might have consumed there, too. When you get home, life gets busy, and you go back to eating out of a bag. Or a box. Or a Starbucks cup. Life Alive creates their menus around the idea that you can eat out on a busy schedule, enjoy what you’re eating, and not have to give up your values or health goals. “It’s like a spa for your insides,” jokes Hema.
Onto turmeric. (Side note: Is it just me, or do other people always forget to include the first “r” when spelling it out, too?) This bad boy helps fight inflammation and contains antioxidants.
Ginger is up next. This spicy little number aids digestion and nausea. Often used in Asian cuisine, juiced ginger is a great alternative if you’re not a fan of the stir fry.
After discussing each concentrate, Hema leaves me with a final, but important, piece of advice. After revealing to her that I’ve never done these type of shots before, she stressed that newbies should start slow. She suggests the Golden Spice Latte, which contains turmeric and ginger in smaller quantities, as a great place to start. A few of the juices, including Life Alive and Elevate Alive, contain wheatgrass. Try these if you’re a newbie like me.
So I left Life Alive feeling simply fabulous. I had food for my body, and food for thought. Now that’s something to chew on (or shoot back, in this case).
Live Alive has three locations in Cambridge, Lowell and Salem, with a fourth in the works.