I have a confession to make. I have been an advocate of the fitness industry for over 20 years but didn't even begin to factor in the importance of good nutrition until ten years ago. I would train several hours a day and then put sub-standard food and low grade fuel into my body. I would generally feel tired, run down and sluggish most days. I thought of food as a chore and would purchase it based on convenience and price, rather than view each meal as an opportunity to do something good for my body.
When I moved to Denver, named the healthiest city in the United States, my food education truly began. It didn't take long for me to become a "regular" at Whole Foods Market, spending a significant portion of my paycheque on natural and organic foods. I began introducing more whole, natural and raw foods into my diet and, with my hectic schedule, began juicing. Because I grew up on SunRype juice boxes and juice from concentrate ... this was a RUDE awakening! I had no idea these "so called" all natural juices were essentially processed liquid sugar derived from fruit sources. The ingredients on the label said anything BUT natural. So ... I bought my first juicer and jumped on the "green drink" bandwagon (with apples, celery, cucumber, ginger, lemon, lime, parsley and spinach). Although these drinks were good for me, the frustration of constantly having to buy produce (at least two pounds for one glass of juice) and the amount of time it took to actually clean the juicer had me looking for alternate options.
After dabbling in every brand of bottled juice in the produce section, not really knowing much about them, my yoga studio brought in fresh, locally made, raw cold-pressed juice ... and my whole life changed! Naturally delicious and refreshing, cold-pressed juice contains more vitamins, minerals and live enzymes than juices prepared using traditional machines with spinning blades (i.e., a Vitamix blender). In addition, these bottles of goodness were far less hassle! I could grab one after class or take a six pack home and I'd be set for the whole week! When I moved back to Calgary I was worried I would have to exist without my cold-pressed juice ... but was pleasantly surprised to find Cru Juice at the YYCFoodTrucks Summer Frenzy in the East Village!
Curious to know more, I recently got a chance to sit down and meet Amanda Hehr, co-founder of Cru Juice, to pick her brain about the company's "real and raw" brand.
Too Young to Feel "Sick, Tired, Heavy and Old"
When you first meet Amanda Hehr, you would have never thought this vivacious, energetic and outgoing mother of two ever felt "sick, tired, heavy or old". But, just two years ago that is EXACTLY how she felt. After spending several years in the medical technology industry, launching innovative products to help people feel better, she (ironically) felt run down, overworked, overstressed, and unhealthy. Knowing that she wanted to do something "bigger" and "more fulfilling" with her life she completed her Executive MBA to better prepare her for the future.
In her business travels around the world she became intrigued with the "green juice phenomenon". She saw the differences it made in her own health and carefully observed what she saw in the marketplace. In a short amount of time she witnessed cultures adopting raw cold-pressed juice in the same way North Americans have become a premium coffee culture. She took this one step further and focused one of her Executive MBA projects on the feasibility of bringing cold-pressed juice to Calgary ... and the rest is history!
Before she could take the leap into this new venture, she knew she needed a partner to successfully grow this business and Naomi Le Bihan, who also had a background in business development and marketing, was the perfect counterpart to bring this new venture to life! Together they created a premium, raw cold-pressed juice brand that is turning heads and getting people's attention!
Cru Juice - Food, Fashion and Fitness
From the beginning, Cru Juice has been focused on providing a product and service offering for the food, fashion and fitness markets. Similar to how specialty coffee has carved a long-standing place in these three verticals, Amanda saw the same path for premium cold-pressed juice ... and she's been RIGHT!
Over the last five years, disease prevention (and increased health awareness) has become a motivating factor for many to seek out healthier options to costly medical treatments. Rather than contributing to the $29 billion a year Canadians spent on prescription medications, people are more open to investing in their health in other ways. Cru Juice has answered the call and they are growing at a rapid pace!
Their very first location, the production "hub" of their operation in Bridgeland, first opened in the summer of 2014. A second "grab-n-go" location quickly followed a few months later inside Holt Renfrew. By May of 2015, they opened their flagship location, just off 17th Avenue, which offered freshly made raw food snacks and products from 6streets, Camp & City, Coal and Canary, Plant, and The Sweat Style. And, for those of us who live in the southeast, they just recently opened their newest kiosk location in Southcentre Mall. What started off as a lifestyle business, expected to grow slowly and at a comfortable pace, has become something much bigger than they could have imagined ... and they are embracing every moment of it!
Not All Juices are Made Equal
The success of Cru Juice is not a result of the company's polished brand or beautiful locations ... it is because there is a high standard of quality that goes into every bottle of raw cold-pressed juice. The focus of the company has always been to provide real and raw nutrition, that includes ONLY the freshest ingredients, designed to promote enhanced vitality and better overall health. The company wants people to feel better, function better and enjoy every day to the fullest!
As a result, when you pick up a bottle of Cru Juice you can expect:
- 6 to 8 ingredients
- Nutrient-dense superfoods (i.e., spinach, blueberries, kale, almonds, etc.)
- Herbs that promote good health (i.e., ginger, lemongrass, cayenne, cilantro, etc.)
- A high concentration of nutrients (a.k.a. "sediment") that you can see in every bottle
- NO high fructose juice (mixed in)
- NO added water (diluting the nutrient content)
Cru Juice is More Than Just Juice
At each of the Cru Juice locations (and online at www.crujuice.com) you can find:
- Raw cold-pressed juices (greens, roots, fruits, nut mylks, lemonades and cleansing waters)
- Juice cleanses (6 x 16 oz. juices/day; 1 or 3 day cleanses)
- Juice subscriptions (delivered daily, weekly or monthly; order online or in-store)
- Healthy raw food (available at select Cru Juice locations)
Maggie Archibald, the Holistic Nutritionist and mastermind behind Cru Juice food products, plays a big part in the company's success. She develops the recipes that not only ensure the food is nutritious ... she also finds a way to make healthy food infinitely delicious! For me ... the Dirty Lemonade, Pumped Up Kicks, Chia Pudding and Raw Peanut Butter Cups are my personal favourites!
The Future of Cru Juice
Their "real and raw" message is about more than just the ingredients in their selection of juices and raw food snacks ... it speaks to an honesty that is a fundamental pillar of their business. Both Amanda and Naomi had to get REAL about wanting to live "bigger and bolder", get RAW and "take chances", and take steps towards chasing their dream. Well, the risks they've taken together have obviously paid off and the city of Calgary is certainly benefitting from it!
What's in store for Cru Juice? In the upcoming months they are planning on adding some additional services at select locations ... but we're going to have to wait and find out! If we're lucky we just might get the inside scoop!
In the meantime, if you haven't been to Cru Juice you can check out some images that I took at the Mount Royal and Southcentre Mall locations using the social media using the icons at the top of the page.
(This post was originally published on www.sixfootcanasian.com on November 24, 2015)