Buzz about the opening of Full Lotus Juice Bar & Cafe (fulllotusjuicebarandcafe.com) has been whirring around our food-loving community since the small shop opened one month ago at the front end of Blue Corn Cafe in Durham.
Full Lotus owner Clarissa Kussin, a certified holistic health counselor and personal chef, has created a cozy nook in the cafe's far left corner window. She greets all her customers with a big smile and tiny tidbits of advice. On various afternoons I noticed a range of clientele, from avid defenders of raw food pinpointing exactly what they want to businessmen opting for a huge smoothie over a latte to keep them going for the day. The store is a welcome addition to the scene now that both local juice buses, Liberacion Juice Station and Carrboro Raw, are closed.
Kussin, who is mostly vegetarian, studied at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York under notable wellness experts Andrew Weil and Deepak Chopra. She grew up in what she says was a "very healthy home" around a culturally and gastronomically diverse table. Her father was a traditional physician and her mother, a teacher, was a very health-conscious cook because of severe allergies.
Her upbringing fostered a love for food (she formerly managed Tosca restaurant with the current Blue Corn owners). Her approach to health combines an appreciation for both traditional and holistic methods. With clients, she honors individual choices and asserts that each body has distinct needs.
"To me, it's like religion," she says. "It's very personal. I am all for that person that changes their diet even 40 percent. It's better than zero."
The range of regular customers coming in, she says, includes top student athletes and cancer patients. For the pressed juices, she uses a Norwalk Press. The medicinal juicer employs a special hydraulic method to extract the most nutrients out of every plant cell. Each machine is made to order and is reputable among doctors and physicians.
Large Ball mason jars line the shelves, as if this was Kussin's kitchen. They're filled with superfoods such as almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, rye, buckwheat groats and pepitas. Fresh greens and fruit are tucked behind a glass case revealing healthy, homemade treats packed with guilt-free, unprocessed ingredients—chocolate cashew butter fudge, coconut macaroons, quinoa cornbread. Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food sits upright and adjacent to the whimsical Dr. Seuss classic Oh, the Places You'll Go among a neatly disheveled stack of books.
Full Lotus' menu includes a slew of pressed and blended juices made fresh on the spot. Smoothies like the Tummy Tamer soothe with papaya, spinach, kale and banana, and the Immunity Blastoff helps keep germs at bay. Fresh-pressed juices with a frothy topping are best sellers and sit ready on ice, though by late afternoon, only a couple remain. Try the Beets Me (sweet and earthy) and the Green Rx (a tangy, spicy blend with celery and ginger).
Kussin also sells food, such as inventive salads, and has been known to whip up a dish on the spot. Full Lotus is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11:11 a.m. to 4:44 p.m.
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