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Front Page - Friday, May 2, 2014

Are you ready for a juice revolution?

River City Roundabout

Tennessee Heat, Sweet Greens, and Beet That come in resealable glasses complete with Southern Squeeze’s logo. Vasileff’s juices have a shelf life of three days, so there’s no need to drink an entire juice in one sitting. - (Photo by David Laprad)

To juice or not to juice? There’s really no question, as the benefits of juicing are many. Packed with nutrients, juice can leave a body feeling vibrant and promotes good health.

But for Kelsey Vasileff, juicing is more than a delicious way to ingest her vitamins, it’s her livelihood. As the owner of Southern Sqweeze, a new cold pressed juice and raw food cafe in North Chattanooga, she hopes the people of Scenic City are ready for a juice revolution.

“The American diet doesn’t give people the amount of fruits and vegetables they need,” she says. “With juice, you get several servings in each one.”

Juicing is also easy on the digestive system, Vasileff says. “When things go through your digestive process, nutrients can get lost. Juice is more beneficial to drink on an empty stomach because your body absorbs the nutrients better. That’s why you feel more energetic.”

A person who drinks juice might also feel less hungry, she says, because his or her body is getting more nutrients. “People who are used to eating huge amounts of food might still feel hungry,” she says.

Huge amounts of food certainly go into each of Vasileff’s juices. One of her signature juices, Sweet Greens, begins life as four to five pounds of raw spinach and apples. “There’s certainly a generous helping of spinach in that one,” she says. “We took our time perfecting the taste so it isn’t overpowering.”

A few of Southern Sqweeze's dozen or so other juices include the Zippy, a potent combination of apple, lemon, and copious ginger, said to be one of the world’s healthiest foods. Beet That, a blend of beets, apples, cucumbers, and less ginger, is for people who want the benefits of ginger but prefer a milder taste, Vasileff says. One of her top sellers, however, is Tennessee Heat, a spicy mix of carrots, oranges, lemon, and cayenne peppers. “We didn’t want the peppers to be overwhelming, so they linger just little in your mouth,” Vasileff says.

Vasileff’s Facebook followers originally wanted her to call the Beet That, a dark red juice, the Beet Bama, but she nixed that idea.

Taste is as important to Vasileff as nutrition, so she’s as picky about how she prepares her juices as she is about what she puts into them. To that end, Southern Sqweeze is the first Chattanooga establishment to provide cold-pressed juices made using a hydraulic press. Regular juicing machines indirectly heat and aerate juice, she says, whereas hydraulic presses use thousands of pounds of pressure to extract juice, omitting any oxidation, and in turn producing the purest possible juice.

While the main focus at Southern Sqweeze is cold-pressed juices, Vasileff also serves fresh-pressed almond milk and a variety of tasty treats. She’s also planning on adding smoothies, breakfast items, and grab-and-go salads. In time, a cleansing program will be a large part of the business as well. Wifi will be available, too, and Vasileff is hoping customers will hang out at Southern Sqweeze just like they would a coffee shop.

Vasileff, who’s been teaching yoga for five years, started a juice bar as part of her mission to promote an overall healthy lifestyle. “Chattanooga is my home, and I was driven to start a business that would contribute to its growth. Healthy, thriving individuals create a healthy, thriving city,” she says.

For store hours, visit Southern Sqweeze on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SouthernSqweeze. Southern Sqweeze is located at 1210 Tremont Street. You can also find Vasileff and her juices at the Chattanooga Market on Sundays and the Main Street market on Wednesdays.