The Nectar juice bar is a labour of love, and owner Mira Naaman is devoted to helping Abu Dhabi residents nourish themselves from the inside out. Liz Totton braves a shot of wheatgrass at the bar.
‘If I don’t have chocolate around 3pm, someone’s gonna get hurt!’ Mira Naaman, the owner of Nectar juice bar jokes, and we believe her! She’s fit, and her time spent attending university in Boston, Massachusetts lends her a directness and confidence often had by Americans who hail from the northeast.
Mira was born and raised in Abu Dhabi, but has lived all over the world. If you had to pin her down, she’d label herself Lebanese-Canadian.
She was invited by a former schoolmate to open a healthy juice and smoothie bar within the thriving yoga studio in Al Bateen, Bodytree Studios. Though she is a chef by training, Mira jumped at the opportunity to create nourishing pre and post workout treats, driven by her passion for fitness. She’s also a mother and concocts nourishing treats for her child.
‘My partner, Nadia [Sehwelil], opened Bodytree Studios to create a fitness studio modelled after those she visited when she summered in Los Angeles, California.’ Mira explains. ‘Within most yoga studios in the US are smoothie bars full of nourishing choices. Nadia said, “Bodytree needs a real juice bar – not one that serves sugar-laced drinks that end up hurting you more than helping you.” So we got started. We wanted something that’s real – something that you would give to your kids and something you would happily drink yourself. Something you can drink without wondering, “What’s in this?” It was fun going to work to create an exciting menu that satified that.’
Mira believes that good health happens on the inside as well as the outside. ‘You can’t exercise and not eat right and expect to see results. You have to eat healthy and exercise in tandem. You must nourish your body from the inside out.’ Visitors can order their juice before attending a fitness class and then pick it up on their way out, when their hunger is peaking.
Mira uses ingredients that offer customers immediate, pre and post workout health benefits, such as bananas to ward off muscle cramps, pineapple to cleanse your body, ginger to boost your immune system and, finally, nut milk and butter with healthy fats that provide your body with longer-burning fuel.
Every drink is fresh and made-to-order. You can customise them to have more of what you like added, or less of something you don’t. You can also add boosters to any drink. Each organic booster proffers unique health benefits. You can choose from aloe (which settles your tummy), chia seeds (which are full of omega fatty acids), organic açai and goji berries (which are rich in antioxidants) and wheatgrass that is grown on the premises and is a superior detoxification agent compared to carrot juice. ‘Brave a shot! It’s good for you,’ Mira implores.
If you are new to juicing, Mira recommends you, ‘Start with a fruit and vegetable mixture, such as ‘Dance to the beet’ – one of the most popular juices. It’s as aesthetically pleasing as it is nutritionally sound,’ Mira says. ‘The juice is a rich, beautiful red in colour. It’s awesome because it’s a palatable way to eat beetroot. Beets are so good for your blood and kidneys, and ginger will boost your immunity.’
Mira adds, ‘This is a fun way to eat your vegetables. At the end of the day, if you enjoy what you eat, you’ll come back to it. You don’t have to hold your nose to eat these beets.’
Nectar is open every day (except Fri) from 9am-noon and 4.30pm-8.30pm. Bodytree Studios, Between 26th Street and 11th Street, Al Bateen (02 443 4448).
Mira’s make-at-home treat
A great smoothie to make in the mornings is the ‘Rise and Shine’. It’s a take on a classic OJ morning drink but with a non-acidic taste from the banana and almond milk. Give it a try!’
2 freshly squeezed oranges
1/2 cup of almond milk
1 tablespoon of goji berries
Add to a blender and blend with a few cubes of ice – if you are feeling adventurous, add a handful of baby spinach and drink your greens in the morning. Blend and drink.