Tuesday, January 1st, 2019
Bellingham is a Haven for Juice Lovers
Lauren Kramer

Who’s ready for juice? If you’re a juice-lover or a juicer looking for inspiration, Bellingham is the right place to be. The city is home to two restaurants that celebrate juicing and the consumption of super-healthy food, whether in liquid or solid form. And locals are flocking to their doors. They’re foregoing their caffeine rush in favor of fresh wellness shots, selecting a lunch of blended greens to add a boost of energy to their day, and booking cleanses where three days of freshly made juice flood their bodies with nutrients.

Big Love Juice

Big Love Juice opened its downtown Bellingham doors in March 2018 in the Herald building at 1149 State Street, with a second location in the Fairhaven District opening soon after in May. Owner Lisa Thomson is a classically trained chef who studied in France and developed her career in Canada before launching Big Love Juice as her first start-up.

“Our goal is to make juices, smoothies, superfoods and really healthy, nutritious things that taste really good and are available at a decent price point,” said Elisa Brackenhofer, Thomson’s daughter, who oversees outreach, connections, social media and events for the restaurant. “We want to bring healthy eating into the norm.”

Photo by Beau Gaughran.

The Herald building is a great one for slurping juice or demolishing an uber-healthy green bowl during your lunch break. The sound of a whirring blender fills the air and the 20-seat restaurant feels bright, spacious, welcoming and friendly. But don’t be fooled: the focus on the food is intense and deliberate.

Big Love Juice’s cold-pressed juice is extracted with 12,000 lbs. of pressure, a process that keeps nutrients and enzymes intact – unlike the process of creating the refrigerated juices you know from grocery store refrigerators. At BLJ 20 pure juices are extracted including fennel, grapefruit, ginger, parsley, celery, beet, spinach, blueberry, cilantro and basil. With an assortment of combinations, BLJ creates six juice blends.

I tried a ‘mighty mini,’ ($3.99) an in-house-made wellness shot that was four ounces of pure energy. It tasted mostly of citrus but had a definite kick.

“That’s the lime juice you’re tasting,” Brackenhofer explained.

My blended powergreen smoothie, a combo of blueberries, pineapple, coconut, mango and greens ($6.49), was a delicious meal-in-a-glass that left me feeling sated and energized. The smoothies are devoid of dairy bases and made with water or coconut milk.

On the solid food side BLJ menus some great breakfast and lunch options. There are acai bowls with a smoothie base and fruity toppings ($8.99), or morning bowls with a yogurt and granola base ($8.99).

BLJ’s salad bowls scream “healthy!” Photo by Beau Gaughran.


Big Love Juice menus a terrific assortment of toast with toppings. Photo by Beau Gaughran.

Lunch options include four varieties of vegetarian salads ranging from $9.99 to $11.79 or toast with topping options like avocado, honey, cream cheese, eggs, vegetable purees or albacore tuna ($6.99-$9.99). Beautifully presented on a wooden board, they are the ultimate comfort food and they almost shout “healthy!” Gluten-free bread options are readily available.

During the holidays, many of us relinquish our regular eating habits and indulge in rich food, more alcohol than usual and larger quantities of everything. In the wake of a food binge, consider a three-day juice cleanse or juice supplement package to get your eating habits back to normal. The programs can be used as a meal replacement, or supplementary to your regular food and range from $39 for the “Lean& Clean” package, to $45 for “Refresh” and $55 for “Power.” These bottled beverage plans, a drug-free wellness prescription for a healthy re-set to your system, are available for pick-up or delivery.

Electric Beet Juice

Also in Bellingham, at 1313 State Street is Kira Marklin’s Electric Beet Juice Co., which opened in its new location in 2017. Marklin previously sold her organic juices and smoothies from Terra at the public market on Cornwall for four years. When Terra went out of business she was thrilled to find these bright, new premises.

“Every single thing is organic, even down to the condiments,” she confided.

Marklin has been in the restaurant business since high school and has worked a number of roles in the industry, from dish washing to management. She moved to Bellingham 10 years ago. Creating organic juices and healthy food is a labor of love that keeps her busy daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“The juices are for people who feel they’ve not consumed enough vegetables in a day,” she explained. “They can swing in and get three or four veggies in a cup to go.”

The seven juices on the menu are ranked from entry level to advanced. Juices like Electric Beet (beet, pear, cold pressed ginger and lime) and Little Miss Sunshine (carrot, orange, pineapple, lemon and ginger) are for those new to juicing, while the more hard-core vegetable-based juices like Green Bling (spinach, romaine and collard greens, cucumber, parsley, celery, lemon and lime) are for folks who are well accustomed to the benefits and flavors of juicing. The juices range in size and price from $5.5 to $10, but there’s also an extensive smoothie selection for those who need a chocolate fix or prefer a richer, fruitier drink.

Electric Beet Juice has a solid food menu too, with a small selection of spring rolls, salads and sandwiches. I tried the Taco Party salad, curious about the walnut taco meat on the ingredient list.

“We mix ground walnuts with sundried tomatoes and spices to create a meat substitute,” Marklin explained. Served with a chipotle cashew cream sauce, it was a novel addition to a salad.

Like BLJ, Electric Beet Juice also offers cleanse programs with food or juice options and different levels for beginners, intermediate and advanced juicers.

“Most people will do a program like this for three-to-five days, and they usually have experience and know how it makes them feel,” she said. “But a lot more people are doing the food cleanse because they’re busy and want to focus on a work project, but don’t want to be consuming fast food burgers for their meals. One customer has been with us for six months and we make all her daytime meals.”

Marklin encourages customers to speak directly to her about what kind of cleanse they’re seeking, so she can help them select the right program.

“Our food is free of dairy, meat, gluten and refined sugar, and it helps people break through food craving cycles and kick starts a new healthy lifestyle change,” she said.

Sounds like the perfect recipe for a fresh start to 2019!

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About the Author:

With one foot in Richmond, BC and the other planted firmly in Blaine, WA Lauren Kramer is an award-winning writer and mother with a passion for the Pacific Northwest's unique offerings.