Monday, May 20, 2019     Volume: 20, Issue: 11
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Santa Maria Sun / Eats

Pure Natural Juice Bar makes eating healthy taste like a cheat day

NICK POWELL

Look. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a nutritionist. I’m not even in particularly good shape. I’m just another doughy dude lumbering his way into middle age and hoping for the best. But I’ll tell you this: After sampling a few things off the menu, it sure feels like I’d be an Adonis in no time if I ate at Pure Natural Juice Bar every day and did a few pushups every now and then.


JUICE WIZARD
Owner and founder Erik Lachino serves up one of his many vitamin-packed, flavorful potions, The Green Machine.
PHOTO BY NICK POWELL

Let me pull the curtain back a little bit. Last week, I went to a festival dedicated to red meat, pork, and beer. The next day was Easter, and my family roasted a fat loin of lamb whose leftovers we’ve been eating for dinner every day since. Instead of burning calories by building things during the day like I usually do, I’ve been sitting around at a training seminar where the hosts have been hooking us up with carnitas and chile verde for lunch.

It’s been a meaty week, and my colon needed a vacation. So, I plugged “healthy food” into my Yelp machine and ended up at a little cafe and juice bar that had exactly what I was craving.

I wasn’t looking for some diluted, artificial fruit water. No. I wanted pure, natural juice, and guess who delivered? I’m a fairly clever chap, so I assumed this place would have my juice bases covered (which it did, with smoothies to boot), but the food menu was much more expansive than I expected. There were entire categories—wraps, paninis, salads, açaí bowls, freakin’ waffles even—each with multiple entries. Some featured light proteins like salmon, chicken, or turkey, and they all had creative combinations of veggies, fruits, and dressing.

After deliberating among my many options, I ordered the grilled veggie panini, the “sunlight energy bowl,” and the super “C” juice, to-go.

I was hoping to chat with owner and founder Erik Lachino, but he was busy working the kitchen and running the cash register. So when the food came out, I gave him my email address to talk later, paid, and got out of there like a bank robber with a bag of gold. I live in Lompoc and had another 30 minutes before I could really inspect the loot, but you know I dove right into that super “C” juice.


RAIN BOWLS
Get it? Like rainbow, but it in a bowl? On account of how these wonderful açaí bowls are so colorful with their assortment of granola, coconut, blueberries, strawberries, kiwis, and mangoes? Yeah, you get it.
PHOTO COURTESY OF PURE NATURAL JUICE

When I ordered it, I’d seen the word “guava” and pulled the trigger, not bothering to read down the line that “C” stood for “celery”—my third least favorite flavor next to olives and pickles—those green logs of garbage. But alas! The guava, orange, and lemon juice mixed with the celery and tempered it, like a spoonful of sugar that helped the medicine go down. Celery was still the most prominent flavor, but I somehow liked it … a lot.

Without the celery flavor, this would have been basic orange juice, and without the citrus flavors, celery juice alone would be unbearable. But Lachino mixed a cocktail that worked beautifully.  The “C” juice was gone before South Broadway became Highway 135, and I felt more awake and revitalized at the end of my day than I had after the two cups of coffee that kicked it off.

At home, I opened my sandwich box to find a grilled wheat flatbread overflowing with an entire garden’s worth of vegetables—zucchini, squash, bell peppers, onions, sprouts, and lettuce—all held together with a spicy and wonderfully funky blend of jalapeño cream cheese and feta.

The açaí bowl consisted of a sweet and creamy blend of soy milk, banana, mango, turmeric, and agave nectar topped with crunchy granola and coconut shavings, plus tart kiwi and strawberry slices. It was a perfectly indulgent dessert, with none of the heavy richness or regret that comes with cake or pie.

I shared half of the panini and half of the açai bowl with my daughter. It was plenty of food for both of us, and we finished the day feeling satisfied, refreshed, and invigorated from our meal, instead of feeling groggy and full like our usual diet leaves us.


VEGGING OUT
The grilled veggie panini combines a variety of roasted vegetables with spicy cream cheese and feta. It’s delicious, satisfying, and healthy all at the same time!
PHOTO COURTESY OF PURE NATURAL JUICE

Two meals and juice cost less than $25, and there was enough variety on the menu at Pure Natural Juice Bar to have a different combination every day for a few weeks, at least. That could easily be the makings of a healthy and delicious lifestyle.

Later, Lachino told me he’d worked as a cook and sous chef for years before making the decision to add some healthy options to Santa Maria’s food scene by opening Pure Natural Juice in 2013. He said he worked for months beforehand to perfect his recipes, offering samples to friends and co-workers and tweaking the flavor balance until it was just right.

Business was slow at first, but now he has a steady stream of loyal regulars who use his concoctions as the fuel for healthy lifestyles.

“I wanted to do something for the community to promote health,” Lachino said. “I really love what I do. It’s my passion: fast food but healthy food.” μ

Contributing writer Nick Powell is pure and natural. Send juicy info to npowell@santamariasun.com.

POWELL’S PICKS

• I’ve been on an eight-month mission to try and compare every last taco offered in Lompoc (winner to be declared eventually). I always get carne asada as my standard, but I recently strayed from that path and tried the ribeye tacos at Floriano’s Mexican Food in Lompoc. They’re on a whole other level, in a very good way. Try some for yourself at 1129 N. H St.. 


Bob’s Well Bread Bakery
FILE PHOTO BY WENDY THIES SELL

• In Los Alamos, Bob’s Well Bread Bakery is offering a special Mother’s Day brunch menu on May 12 with crab or prosciutto eggs Benedict, fresh berries, mimosas, and a choice of pastry for $35. Give mom the gift of brunch at 550 Bell St.

• Yellow (Ataulfo) mangoes. They’re available at every grocery store. They’re not always ripe or cheap, but they’re both right now. Buy a bunch and eat ’em. You won’t regret it.

• It’s probably no secret that North China in Santa Maria has some damn good moo shoo pork, but I tried it for the first time recently and can re-confirm that it is indeed delicious. Re-re-confirm this fact at 113 North Broadway. μ
 
Contributing writer Nick Powell is hungry 
for story ideas. Please send fresh tips to 
npowell@santamariasun.com.




Weekly Poll
How should the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District improve its A-G completion rates?

Align graduation requirements with university entrance requirements.
Ensure that students and parents are well aware of A-Gs and what they are before high school.
Improve support services and summer school classes for students who fall behind.
Completion rates are fine as is. Not everyone wants to go to a four-year college!

| Poll Results