Spreading new roots
Popular Stuart cafe features menu that is healthy and tastes good, too
BY RACHEL CUCCURULLO
As people settle into the new year, many are trying to be healthier versions of themselves. Some may incorporate a new exercise routine while others drop a serious television-watching habit. But one of the most popular things Americans are doing is to switch to vegetarian and vegan-based diets to lose weight, diminish chronic disease or lessen damage done to the environment.
When Amber Eichling was a teenager, she made a conscious effort to follow a pescatarian or vegetarian lifestyle and continued to do so for several years. After winning a scholarship to be part of a foreign exchange program upon graduating high school, her views would change yet again.
“When I was 18 years old, I spent some time in Germany completing an internship and work program,” Eichling says. “During that time, mad cow disease was happening there and the family I lived with didn’t eat any red meat. I already was not eating most animal products but that sort of catapulted me to stick to a vegan lifestyle.”
Eichling became vegan and only looked forward, creating new dishes in the kitchen with plant-based ingredients. She experimented with new flavor profiles and crafted a unique menu of her own.
“I was raised in Cocoa Beach and moved to Stuart around 2009,” Eichling says. “I had always worked in the restaurant industry, usually front-of-house positions, so I was familiar with that world.”
After following a vegan lifestyle for several years while living in Stuart, Eichling noticed there was a lack of vegan food options. She decided that opening a small café and serving her own recipes would solve that problem.
JUST KEEPS GROWING
In 2015, the doors of Fruits and Roots Juice Bar and Vegan Café opened. At first, the cafe occupied a small space in the Shoppes at Colorado plaza. It then outgrew that location and moved next door, outgrew that space and finally landed at 710 S. Colorado Ave. After business started picking up, the café went from five to 25 employees.
“We started with five total crew members working at the café,” Eichling says. “My father-in-law would help wash dishes but suddenly we started to get busy and things changed quickly for us.”
The original vision was to provide ready-made, fresh salads and food. Eichling wanted to make sure plant-based smoothies, juices and meals were easily accessible. She continues to make that happen today and purchases at least 90% organic ingredients — and if the local food-source allows, it’s at 100%.
The Fruits and Roots crew starts its day several hours before the doors open at 10 a.m. The cashew mylk used in smoothies and oat bowls is made fresh daily. Vegetables, fruits and other ingredients are delivered fresh daily. Food scraps and leftover fruits and vegetables are used in stocks and soups.
The café has become well-known for its cold-pressed juices. With this process, no nutrients are lost because no heat or oxygen is used, only heavy hydraulic pressure to extract liquid from fruits and vegetables.
“I think my go-to juice is the Root Juice,” self-proclaimed snowbird Martin Igguary says. “After one sip you just feel re-energized and it’s always so refreshing. You can taste the purity, care and goodness of the ingredients.”
SMOOTH AND JUICY
The Root Juice is served in a 12 oz. bottle and contains carrot, golden beet, red beet, cucumber, turmeric, ginger and lemon. The combination is power packed with vitamins that are great for boosting immunity, detoxifying and nourishing the body.
The cafe also offers a wide variety of smoothies, smoothie bowls and oat bowls. All smoothies are made with oats, date and its house-made cashew mylk. Patrons are encouraged to add superfoods such as spirulina powder or protein such as almond butter, to any of the items.
The South Pacific smoothie is a palate-pleasing combination of pineapple, mango, orange, banana and chia. Blended with fresh ingredients, it is garnished with shredded coconut.
“When we are able, we try to buy local, such as collards or salad greens from CoLab Farms,” Eichling says. “We buy most of our products from Jack Scalisi Wholesale Fruit and Produce as they have an excellent amount of organic produce offerings, which is very important to me.”
Looking for something hearty? Try the Black Bean Burger, which is made fresh and cooked to order. It has black beans, mushrooms, veggies, seeds and grains and is topped with pickles, red onion, lettuce and special sauce served on a bun.
“Sometimes I think the word vegan scares people off, but we really just serve good food that also happens to be vegan,” Eichling says. “We are making food that’s not only healthy for you and better for the environment, but it’s also so tasty. “
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
As plant-based diets become more popular, many ingredients have become more easily accessible, such as tempeh or tofu. And it’s nothing new that fruits and veggies play a vital role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
The Fruits and Roots menu has something for every type of taste. Its Buffalo Cauliflower Flatbread is a crowd-pleaser and the cauliflower is often mistaken for actual buffalo chicken. The thin and crispy flatbread has a roasted garlic spread that is then topped with a buffalo-tossed cauliflower, sliced celery, carrots and red onion. What makes this flatbread extra mouthwatering, is the drizzle of cashew cream, parsley and house Parmesan.
While things slowed down for a short time during the quarantine in 2020, Eichling says that they continued to do delivery orders until they reopened for in-person service in the summer.
“We have a very loyal base of customers who enjoy the fresh food,” Eichling says. “Without them, things may not have been so great. They kept us very busy during the pandemic. We love our regulars and it’s great they love our food so much.”
What started out as a vision to provide fresh salads and smoothies for locals has blossomed into one of the Treasure Coast’s most well-known vegan restaurants. Not only is every item made with the freshest ingredients, it is also made with the utmost care and exciting, new flavors.
See the original article in the print publication
IF YOU GO …
Fruits and Roots Juice Bar and Vegan Café
710 S. Colorado Ave., Stuart
[Shoppes on Colorado]
Hours: Monday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
For more information: Visit fruitsandrootscafe.com or call 678.6627