There comes a magical moment in everyone’s life — call it an epiphany — when you decide to make a major change to your lifestyle. It could be a vow to give up smoking, a decision to stop drinking in excess, a huge step of going clean, cold turkey, and giving up drugs. It could be as simple as embarking on Pilates or yoga or sticking to a resolution to lose weight.
For Marcella Williams, it came readying for motherhood a decade ago and committing to a regimen of consuming cold-pressed juice and good-for-us produce. She’s been keeping her brood and herself healthy and bright ever since.
Marcella is COO and co-founder of The Juice Standard, Las Vegas’ luxury juice bar featuring original recipes, cold-pressed juices and nut milks (plus, a number of “chewables”) made from 100 percent organic produce.
Marcella and TJS CEO and co-founder Jamie Stephenson developed the menu, but it’s Marcella’s palate prowess from years in the culinary industry that has guided her gut about the complementary flavors and ingredients that enhance, not inhibit, recipes, making TJS juices among the Valley’s sought-after sips.
But as Marcella reveals, her deep faith in juicing and healthy produce is personal. Here is her come-to-juicing story:
I will never forget the day my former husband and I decided that we were ready for a baby. A month later, we were expecting, and I could feel in my gut that it was a little girl. I could see her face in my mind — her warm smile, her kind eyes. I knew her name, imagined the sound of her laughter and could not wait to meet her.
My pregnancy was pivotal in the arc of my path toward total health because it’s when I became conscience about what I put into my body. I was no longer just feeding myself. I was creating another human. She needed the highest-quality foods and nutrients during her most crucial time of development, so I began by increasing my fruits and vegetables and minimizing anything processed and refined.
They say love is a verb, and although I could not voice it to her yet, I could show her in the best way I knew how. Months later, my healthy Sophia Maria was born July 12, 2006, at 8 pounds, 3 ounces and 21 inches. I loved her before I met her, but unconditional love bloomed at 6:32 p.m. when she laid on my chest for the first time.
We were blessed with twin boys 17 months later. As with Sophia, my eating was clean during my pregnancy and remained so after the boys were born. I remember their dad reminding me that things would get easier despite the first 18 months of parenting three babies being a blur.
To this day, I am forever grateful for two things: my diet of as much produce as possible, and the thousands of pictures and videos we took during that time, which remind me of how fast time flies and how precious those first few years are.
My children were good eaters, but around the ages of 3 and 4, they suddenly disliked anything green, even avocados, a previous star in our house since they could digest them. I found myself in not just a pickle, but also in a panic: All that I’d ever wanted was to feed them things to help their new cells develop well and to create healthy habits from the start.
I remembered a juicer that I’d received as a gift years before, but juicing was so much effort. The most work that machine had done was collect dust. But I needed to get creative with my picky little eaters.
Tricking kids into good health
Enter my pre-child culinary skills (which also needed a little dusting). I discovered that I could hide almost anything in a juice or smoothie as long as I added beet to make it pink or raw cacao to make it chocolate-y. The kids started drinking my concoctions; they devoured them. I breathed easy knowing that I was tricking them to health.
Since kids can’t exist on smoothies alone, I needed other tools. Most if not all foods can be taught to be appreciated if they’re introduced the right way, and the approach French mothers use to get their kids to like veggies proved successful: Put veggies on their plates; don’t force them to belong to the Clean Plate Club; and ask them to eat only one of what you’re introducing.
One Brussels sprout, one broccoli floret, one asparagus spear. The next week, serve the same veggie and rerun the process, increasing it to two pieces, then three. After about 10 times, kids’ palates will change and develop, and veggies they hated will be tolerated and eventually enjoyed.
Unconditional love: Patience is key
It doesn’t happen overnight, and patience is key. So is showing unconditional love when kids resist. Forcing them to clean their plate will not only create extra stress for you and the children, but it also will teach them unhealthy eating habits. (I could never imagine being introduced to sushi for the first time and jumping right into yellowtail sashimi!)
This same concept can be applied to juice, which is one of the main reasons The Juice Standard offers a complimentary juice tasting to anyone who asks for it. It allows you to slowly introduce your palate to new ingredients and flavors.
Even today, I don’t make my kids drink an entire green juice, but I do ask them to take sips (and some mornings, they fight over who gets the last few). As they’ve grown, it’s nothing for them to seek out fruit when they want something sweet or to view a date like a piece of candy. And that makes me feel like I’ve done (and continue to do) something right.