The concept of a juice cleanse, or even raw vegetable juices was a pretty foreign concept to me until I moved to Toronto in September. Not owning a juicer, or having access to a restaurant that made them, my exposure to them was primarily through fellow bloggers who posted fantastic recipes or reviews, complete with mouth-watering photos. Needless to say, I was intrigued.
Moving to Toronto was, honestly, like being thrust into a vegan, health food world that I had only been on the fringes of before. Suddenly all the products I’d only been able to order online before were at my fingertips and the kinds of restaurants I’d only dreamed of eating at were no more than a subway ride away. So, at the recommendation and with the company of Janet, I gave Belmonte Raw a try and I was in love.
A relatively new establishment in Toronto, Belmonte Raw is a lovely little cafe in Leslieville on Queen St. East. It’s small with limited seating and a limited menu, but it changes daily and believe me, doesn’t leave you wanting. With 3 main meals to choose from with an array of juices, dessert and a few retail items for sale, you are sure to leave satisfied. Both myself and Janet got the combo where you had your choice of main salad, juice, and a raw chocolate and it was one of the tastiest, most satisfying meals I’d had in a while. Fresh, clean, filling and light. While on the pricier side, you know you are getting high quality, organic ingredients, so it’s worth it. I wish I had snapped a photo! The service was lovely as well, which I am learning is hard to come by in the vegetarian establishments in Toronto.
Anyway, while moving to Toronto has been fabulous, it’s brought a few old health issues to the surface, which I am guessing are in reaction to the heightened stress I’ve been experiencing as well a increased levels of pollution. My skin, digestive system and energy levels have been all out of whack and I needed SOMETHING.
Thankfully, Belmonte Raw came to the rescue in the form of a juice cleanse. I was hooked from the first raw vegetable juice I tried and it seemed fitting to enlist the help of this wonderful cafe.
A whole day of juices lined up and ready
The Cleanse Protocol
They offer cleanses at lengths of 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 14, and 21 days with either all raw food, all juices or a combination of the two. I opted for 5 days of all juices since I really needed a system reset and I always like to challenge myself.
Belmonte will deliver the juices to you every morning with a schedule of when to drink what. All the bottles are conveniently numbered so mix-ups are avoided. Each day included four 16oz. vegetable juices, one 16oz. citrus juice, one 16oz. cashew milk and 1 small elixir, with a Liver Cleanse tea each day.
Each day was structured similarly with a warm lemon water to start your day, a carrot-based juice as the first juice, a green juice mid-morning, the elixir late morning, cashew milk at lunch, citrus juice mid-afternoon, carrot-based juice early evening and green juice to finish the day, with tea and water being consumed throughout the day.
My Cleanse Experience
Day 1: I felt great! I loved the carrot based juice, so delicious and was shocked at how delicious the green juice were. The cashew milk was a lovely treat at lunch, which really helped being surrounded by people at school who are eating very aromatic lunches beside me. The juices were very well timed and I never felt hungry. Did some dry skin brushing, had a shower and went to bed feeling good.
the carrot and beet juice from Day 1!
Day 2: Woke up feeling great once again and noticed my stomach was flatter than usual- no digestive issues creating bloating! The day went fairly smoothly until later at night. I got really hungry around 9:30 pm but just had a glass of hot water and it passed. A slight headache as I was going to bed, but nothing very serious.
enjoying my citrus juice for the day
Day 3: Today was not so great. The juices were not my favourite since every single one had celery in it (which I’m not the biggest fan of, but that’s totally a personal preference) and they all felt lighter than previous days. I felt very drained and even walking took effort. I had a terrible headache and had cravings like mad. I took extra care to rest when I could and drink lot of fluids.
In hindsight, all of this makes sense. It’s probably the day when my body really got into detox mode and was releasing all of the toxins, making me feel terrible. It also makes sense that this day would be the lightest since you would want to ease in with heavier juices, then go lighter, then ease back out again.
Looks the same as the photo above, but it’s actually a different day, you can see the elixir is different and the juices were actually different too. I believe this was Day 3, with all the celery
Day 4: Felt much better today. The juice were more to my liking and my energy was back. In fact, I was feeling more energetic than I had in a while. I really started looking forward to all my drinks, especially the cashew milk- I gained a new appreciation for just how rich, creamy and tasty a raw nut milk can be! The day passed by without very much of a hitch- the only snag being that I volunteer with Marni Wasserman, an amazing culinary nutritionist here in Toronto, and I had to be around delicious, healthy vegan food all night and watch everyone else eat it! I was strong though!
one of the elixirs I received over the 5 days, taken as little shots!
Day 5: Today was hard again, but for different reasons. I was working all day, instead of being in school which meant I could not stick to a perfect schedule of drinking the juices. I ended up going way longer than I should have in between my elixir and the cashew milk and I just felt drained. I did what I could though and eventually after having my cashew milk and citrus juice, I felt much better. There were no cravings for food today which was wild because whenever I am working I always crave sweets! Nature of the job, being surrounded by delicious smelling, but unhealthy food.
Catching up on some blog reading and enjoying my dinner-time carrot-based juice.
General thoughts: The man who delivered my juices every morning was very sweet! The juices are delivered in glass bottles which I appreciated since I am always trying to reduce my reliance on plastic. My only complaint would be that the glass bottles made everything very heavy- so on days when I had to carry around my entire day’s supply all over Toronto, it was tiring and cumbersome. A small price to pay I suppose! I also think the cleanse was planned very well- I actually experienced pretty good energy the whole time throughout the cleanse except the one bad day, so I felt like I was getting all my vitamins, minerals and macronutrients. I feel like this would be hard to plan and execute juicing on your own, especially for a juice newb like myself. . The fact that they made everything for me made it easy and I loved that I didn’t have to think about anything
Overall results: I felt clean and recharged. My digestive system was reset and allowed me to start reintroducing things back into my diet to asses their impact on my system. My skin didn’t show any noticeable difference but it definitely gave me a good base to identify foods that might be aggravating it. I noticed a reduction in sweet cravings in the evening and increased satisfaction with smaller, lighter meals. I have a tendency to overeat so this was huge! Definitely feeling better and I got what I wanted from this experience!
Overall, if you are looking to do a juice cleanse in the Toronto area, I HIGHLY recommend Belmonte Raw. The owners are lovely and are only an email away through the entire process. If you want to get started, head over to the website and drop them an email. They will respond with all the information you need to choose the right cleanse for you and get going!