FRESH OFF THE PRESS | Best of Cold Pressed Juicing with Ruth Tal of Fresh

By Jaime Slavin

Fresh has been an institution in Toronto since 1999. Sprouting in the Queen Street West area, and blossoming into four restaurant locations in the city of Toronto, it is safe to say you will find vegans and carnivores alike eating at this delicious plant based restaurant. The newest addition to the Fresh experience is their new line of organic cold pressed juices, nut milks and power shots.

Sitting down with the founder of Fresh Restaurants, Ruth Tal, over a couple of bottles of Fresh’s new line of delicious cold pressed organic juices is an experience in itself. There is something about Ruth’s energy, her warmth and her passion for what she does and brings to Toronto that is entirely refreshing.

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Jaime (J): What inspired you to bring this style of restaurant to Toronto?

Ruth (R): It honestly just started off with me really being into juicing. Being a hungry vegan in the city; knowing there was so much more to being vegan and juicing than a bowl of brown rice and carrot juice. I come from a family where we always enjoyed our food. We ate a lot of spicy, colourful, multi-layered dishes. I was in my mid twenties, I wanted to be out but I wanted to eat in a way that was in-line with my personal health, wellness and ethics. To me, my way of making a difference on the day-to-day world was being vegan. Admittedly, I was very evangelical in those years and very passionate about living compassionately. So, all those things came together, I loved my city and this was really missing for me. I just wanted to give it to the city. I wanted to take it to the next level. I knew that Toronto had the potential and it needed to step up. I wanted to be part of that.

J: Congratulations on your new juice line. It’s a game changer! What inspired you to bring cold pressed juicing to Fresh Restaurants?

R: I’ve been drinking cold pressed juices for the last 2 years because I have been spending a lot of time in L.A. and New York and thinking how I need to bring this to Toronto. I was speaking to my two amazing, wonderful partners and they are like “yes, let’s do it!” Cold pressed juicing is not an easy thing. It’s different equipment; it’s a different way of juicing. You can’t do it on the bar. It’s not an interactive experience, but the benefits of it are amplified. I’m glad it had been so well received and people are getting it.

J: What differentiates your juices from the other juice spots in Toronto?

R: It is the plethora of ingredients we use. So many ingredients, so many combinations, it’s intense! What sets us apart is that we took the extra trouble to create more complex recipes to have flavours and ingredients that have strong nutritional benefits as well having all of these interesting flavour accents. Our collection is very bold.

Of course I want to stand apart from the pack, I want to lead the pack. I’m going to be fifty this May. It’s my right to lead (*laughs).

J: Do you incorporate juice cleanses in your life?

R: When I first discovered juicing I went nuts on juice cleanses. I needed it at that time, I was feeling very sluggish and unhealthy and I needed to recalibrate. I was so passionate about juicing, reading about all the benefits. Then I got to a point when I didn’t need to do that anymore. I was eating very healthfully, and I didn’t drink, smoke, or drink coffee. So, for the last 15 years I have not cleansed or fasted.

When I launched the cold pressed juices, I wanted to design a cleanse based on the collection. I would never do that if I haven’t experienced it for myself first.

I was drinking our juices and our nut milks. I felt amazing.

J: For beginners who are hesitant to do a juice cleanse, what would your suggestion for a good first step be?

R: It is very important that your days leading up to the cleanse you start to move towards a healthier diet. If you drink a lot of wine, if you smoke and you drink a lot of coffee and eat a lot of processed foods, your fast has to be backed up about a week before you start to get your body used to not having those things, otherwise you can get very headachy and feel yucky.

J: For those who don’t want to do a juice cleanse, how do you see people incorporating your juices into their life?

R: I find for me, it depends on the time of day you’re reaching for it. For example, the vitamin C elixir, which is spicy citrus, is a great way to start the day.

Mid-day to end of day and evening you go with the heavier juices, the green juices, the beet based juices. For me, they go with my salads. I always make sure I have one green juice a day.

I find that our nut milks give me enough protein, because I am very active. If you are going to do yoga or workout or post practice or post gym, they are great!

J: What are you favourite “go-to” drinks in your line of juices?

R: The Urban Detox, which is very spicy. I love the cayenne in it, it always warms me up. It also has two full ounces of organic ginger. It’s a really well balanced juice with all the greens too.
The Antioxidant- it’s a green juice hidden as a sweet beet juice.
The Apple Ginger Glow—if I don’t want veggies but I want the alkalinity of the simple apple ginger. It’s very hydrating.

J: Can you tell me about the creative process that went into formulating your juice line?

R: It started with me drinking a whole lot of juice everywhere else and knowing what I love that we already juice on our bars. Amalgamating what we juice centrifugally on the bar, what I’ve been having at all the other places and what my favourites are. I like certain ingredients for their nutritional benefits. I had two lists going and then I amalgamated them into my dream list. We got an X1, the name of the cold press juicer, and I had a long list of juice combos that I wanted to try out. It was weeks and weeks; we would create combinations and put them over night in the fridge and see if the taste changed the next day. We would take home all our bottles and call each other and see what we would think. Having different sets of palates was very important. That was the process and will continue to be the process.

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Jaime Slavin Effervescent community engager, passionate nutritionist, tireless food advocate, Masters Public Health, Apron wearing, eco-conscious living, farmers market lover!
Visit: JaimeSlavin.com