The Mermaid Bowl owes its turquoise color to a nutrient-rich algae called spirulina.EXPAND
The Mermaid Bowl owes its turquoise color to a nutrient-rich algae called spirulina.
Meagan Mastriani

Gilbert's Karma Apple Juicery Is a Feast for the Eyes and the Immune System

At Karma Apple Juicery in Gilbert, customers eat with their eyes first. The health food shop – which sells raw, vegan, organic goods – has become a local favorite on Instagram since it opened in March.

The feed is a mouthwatering rainbow of visual delights: vivid fuchsia smoothies topped with tropical fruit slices, mint green matcha tarts with a sprinkling of gold and periwinkle flower petals, and spectrums of bottled juices in every jewel tone.

Owner Joanie Cady says the majority of her guests stumble upon pictures of her food on social media before coming in to try it. And once they’re in the door, she wants them to feel safe ordering anything on the menu, which is free of most common allergens. There’s no dairy, gluten, or refined sugar in the dishes. Cady uses dates, agave, and occasionally maple syrup as natural sweeteners.

“I wanted people to feel like they can eat anything, because I know from my family’s experience,” she says. “My husband has gluten allergies, and we’re all vegan, so it’s really hard to go out to eat.”

Karma Apple offers 14 kinds of Superfood Smoothies, ranging from $10 to $12, with the option to turn any into a bowl topped with granola, fresh fruit, coconut slivers, and cacao nibs for an extra $2. The popular AZ Sunrise features ombre layers of blended raspberries, mangoes, pineapples, and bananas. A summer special called the Mermaid Bowl owes its striking turquoise color to the addition of spirulina, an algae so rich with vitamins and minerals that astronauts on long space flights eat it as a health supplement.

There are also six varieties of Adaptogenic Lattes, served hot or iced ($7-$8). These beverages have herbs, mushrooms, or root powders that are supposed to aid the immune system. For several of these lattes, you can add an adaptogen of your choice. The selection ranges from common ingredients like flax seeds and peanut butter to more obscure ingredients, such as lion’s mane, a fungus touted for boosting memory and focus, and the herb ashwaganda, which is said to help relieve stress.

Cady developed all the recipes based on what she likes to eat at home. She started her business at a farmers market, selling her take on the caramel apple, but instead coating the fruit in a sticky, sweet date paste, then studding it with nuts and hemp seeds. Lastly, she drizzles it with chocolate.

She still makes her namesake Karma Apples for the juicery. It’s one of several pastries that rotate through the shop’s glass case. Cady’s brownies, bars, and other treats are prepared in a dehydrator, rather than baked in an oven, to preserve more nutrients.

Her juices follow a similar process, squeezed in a cold press rather than ground up in a centrifugal juicer. It takes more time to make juice this way, but it has a higher nutritional value. Cold-pressing is why Karma Apple’s juices have such deep, rich coloration, like the emerald green of kale and the blazing orange of carrot. Juices cost $9 to 11 each, and they offer a variety of cleanses for people who want to do a solid food fast for any period from a day to two weeks. It’s recommended to call ahead for cleanses so that the staff has time to press all your juices.

Karma Apple packs a whopping amount of intriguing foods into a fairly small space. The shop has limited seating: a patio table, plus a single bench and hammock inside. There’s a basket of books and toys for children as well. It’s a friendly, inviting place to ask questions about veganism and probiotics while the staff prepares your order to grab and go.

Karma Apple Juicery. 7 East Palo Verde Street, #2, Gilbert; 480-465-6978.
Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; closed Saturday; Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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