In her commercial kitchen space at the Elk Haven Wellness Center in Brevard, Katie Flanagan of Green Heart Juice is transmuting fruits and vegetables into gold. Into her spacious juicer go piles of fresh produce — bright-yellow lemons, crisp green celery, ruddy orange carrots — and out squeezes a constant flow of precious elixir.
“I’m training one of my employees to make juice, teaching her the basic facts and ratios,” Flanagan explains. “But a lot of it comes down to getting the color right. It’s alchemy.”
Flanagan’s juices are her philosopher’s stone. Like that mythical material of the medieval alchemists, her concoctions have brought her material success through her business. And, although the drinks may not give her immortality, she credits juice for a dramatic turnaround in her personal health.
In early 2014, Flanagan says, she was dealing with a suite of physical and mental issues. “My brain was just as foggy as could be, and I had digestive health symptoms like cramping and pain,” she recalls. “Juice was one of the baseline things that got me feeling better.”
She started off making a gallon a week in a home juicer, but as friends noticed Flanagan’s improving health, they asked her to press juice for them, as well. Demand spread through word of mouth and recommendations by several area naturopathic doctors, and by the middle of 2014, she had incorporated Green Heart Juice to serve a regular base of several dozen loyal clients.
While Flanagan’s customers may begin buying juice for their health, it’s the taste of her products that turns the curious into converts. Carefully developed blends and meticulous attention to sourcing — all produce is grown using organic practices, and much of it comes from local farmers — give each liquid a delicious sophistication.
Consider her Heartbeet juice, a thick beverage with a reddish-purple color reminiscent of a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. The titular root veggie is present, but a healthy hit of lime and the sweetness of green apple prevent its earthiness from overwhelming the palate. “That’s my athlete’s juice,” says Flanagan. “It’s a great blood builder for anyone who’s doing a lot of exercise and asking a lot of their muscles.”
On the other end of the spectrum is Boost, a vibrant yellow drink the color of lemon-lime Gatorade. “It’s my favorite juice, but you have to taste it two or three times before you really grasp it,” Flanagan admits. Savory elements of celery, turmeric, and black pepper bounce off lemon, ginger, and green apple in a complex but pleasant conversation, all while supporting the immune system.
Somewhere in between lies Slayer. Heavy on cabbage and cilantro, the green blend hints at a good Mexican restaurant’s salsa verde. Flanagan says that the cilantro removes heavy metals from the body, giving the juice its name, but notes an additional, unexpected benefit: “This juice is slamming [if you add] jalapeño and a little bit of gin!”
At up to $18 for a 32-ounce bottle, Slayer and other Green Heart Juice products aren’t cheap, but Flanagan says she’s not willing to compromise on the quality of her ingredients. “I get all my carrots and beets from Clem’s Organic Garden, five miles down the road from me,” she says. “They’re pricier than other sources, but I literally saw them get harvested, washed, and bagged up.”
Green Heart Juice is also committed to environmental sustainability. Through the company’s bottle-return program, customers bring their old juice containers to Brevard’s Food Matters Market or the Elk Haven facility for sanitizing and reuse. A friend’s chickens get leftover fruit and vegetable pulp, while farmers reuse the twist ties and plastic bags from their produce packaging.
Flanagan currently sells Green Heart Juice for pickup from several locations in Brevard or for delivery throughout Brevard, Mills River, and Hendersonville. As a next step, she hopes to open a storefront, where she can provide her clients with even fresher sources of nourishment like wheatgrass and ginger shots. “If I can provide ways for people to start taking better care of themselves more consistently, we’re winning,” she says. “I am selling juice, but I’m trying to do much more.”
Green Heart Juice, 100 Elks Club Road, Brevard. Open Monday through Saturday, 8am-6:30pm. 828-275-4008. http://www.greenheartjuice.com