by Tina Johansson
When Lake Forest stay-at-home moms Laura Rukavina and Annemarie Ranallo decided to go back to work, they agreed to open a business.
The duo, friends since college and former school volunteers (their children are the same ages), craved something they were both passionate about.
With their joint experience in juicing and their knowledge of healthy eating, the women set out to open LF Juice, a store featuring everything healthy: cold pressed juices, smoothies, and snacks made from raw and natural fruits and vegetables.
The business has been a hit since the doors opened last June.
“We both really had a passion for this,” said Rukavina who researched the idea after visiting several juice bars in California. “There is really nothing like it around here.”
Sure, you can get fresh smoothies and juices from some high-end grocery stores, but according to Rukavina, “It’s the process here that makes a difference.” The women invested in pricy, top-of-the-line equipment to create what they call “liquid gold.”
Many customers require their favorite smoothie or juice first thing each morning. “There are options everywhere, but if I were to spend money on a daily basis, I would want the best,” said Rukavina, originally from Mt. Prospect.
Some places use heat in processing their juice, which destroys vital living components. Even worse, said the women, if you are looking for vitamins and minerals in buying juice that has been packaged and pasteurized and sitting on a grocery store shelf for some time, you are out of luck. Pasteurization is even more detrimental to nutrients.
“When you start drinking cold pressed juice, you will see and taste difference in quality, and get more benefits,” said Rukavina. After all, raw, fresh pressed juices are said to give the consumer more energy, better digestion, clear skin and eyes, balanced mood, detox and cleanse, and boosted immune system.
“For me, it was a physical injury that got me to start taking better care of myself. I began yoga and juicing, and it really changed my life. It was a life-altering experience,” said Rukavina.
The natural and nutrient-dense ingredients in the juices which are absent of additives including ice, come from pressing four pounds of fresh fruits and produce.
“Our equipment uses 20 tons of pressure to gently extract the natural juices, sugars, enzymes and vitamins. Everything is placed in whole to get the maximum benefits,” said Rukavina. “And it starts being distributed throughout your body within 20 minutes of drinking it.”
While a glass of organic nutritional juice costs around $5.50 here, it is still far less than what you would spend regularly buying organic fruits and vegetables, not to mention the equipment to cold press at home, explained Rukavina
The customers run the gamut from high schoolers to adults, but the majority want the real health benefits involved with drinking natural juices. “We get a lot of cancer patients,” said co-owner Ranallo. “We get a ton of people who feel like they’re getting a cold or getting sick. Yesterday we had two moms came in for ginger shots for their daughters.”
And she has seen firsthand the benefits of organic juice on her own family. “When my son was young he suffered from asthma and eczema,” she said. “Now his skin is clearer, and I attribute much of that to the juicing I do,” said Ranallo, formerly of Deerfield.
As for the business, Ranallo, who initially set out to become a school phycologist, is happy she and Rukavina made the leap into this business, no matter the work involved. “There is a lot of lifting and manual labor,” she said. “But it’s great when we can teach people the healthy benefits of this. In fact one glass exceeds a person’s daily minimum (vitamin) requirement,” she said.
“This is beneficial especially for people with special dietary needs, athletes, vegans and others. It’s really a juice revolution,” said Ranallo.
So how about a beet smoothie with beet, red apple, celery and lemon? Or maybe some juice made with sweet potato, ginger, apple, carrot, cinnamon and Himalayan seat salt? Another healthful option is the “Charcolade” crafted with activated charcoal, ginger, coconut water, coconut sugar, lemon, and cayenne pepper. And a best seller at LF Fruit is the green smoothie made with kale, spinach, celery and cucumber.
There are also a lot of foods to eat here including the popular acai bowls filled with berries and other fresh fruit and granola; chia protein balls made with raw cocoa, almond butter, protein powder and chia seeds; and all-natural bone broth, high in vitamins and minerals.
Ranallo added one more thing that may be helpful for anyone wishing to lose a few: “I used to crave ice cream every night. Since I’ve been drinking this juice and eating raw foods, I no longer crave it,” she said.
LF Juice is at 950 Western Avenue in Lake Forest
Open Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturdays 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday closed.
For information visit www.lfjuice.com or call 847.235.2090.
Glass bottles of juice from LF Juice (deposit required) can now be purchased at Reprise Coffee Shop at the west Lake Forest train station. In the summer, the women bring their products to local farmer’s markets.