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At Home with Shauna Martin

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The Daily Greens founder on her home, surviving cancer and the power of green juice.

by Rachel Merriman, photos by Kimberly Davis

Nestled deep in the winding, oak-lined streets of historic Travis Heights, Shauna Martin’s 193
8 bungalow is quintessentially South Austin cool. The founder of the Daily Greens juice company moved to Austin in early 2000, and was drawn to the Travis Heights neighborhood for its rich history and laid-back vibe.

“My husband and I were attracted to Travis Heights from the beginning. We both like the 1930s to 1940s era of homes. It was a neighborhood that didn’t feel too stuffy or forced,” Martin says.

Martin also liked the house’s close proximity to South Congress Avenue, which, at the time, was leaving behind its seedy image and transforming into the hip shopping and entertainment district Austinites are familiar with today.

“When we moved in, South Congress was just starting to get cool. The Hotel San Jose had just been remodeled, and there was Jo’s, but that was about it. Home Slice used to be my drycleaner and Perla’s used to be where I got my oil changed,” Martin remembers. “Over the 14 years we’ve lived here, the whole street has completely gentrified.”

The Travis Heights neighborhood was planned in 1913 by General William Harwood Stacy, who advertised the area to potential homebuyers as an escape from the city. Though Austin has grown considerably since then, the neighborhood has retained the secluded, natural environment Stacy originally envisioned.

“It still has a very wonderful, neighborly feel, and it’s so close to the center of Austin. We can walk to Town Lake or ride our bikes around the hike-and-bike trail. I love going to the Continental Club and walking home from there. We get the best of Austin living in this neighborhood,” Martin says.

Martin and her husband wanted a historic home with lots of character, but many of the houses they looked at had been renovated and stripped of their original features, or were in such poor condition they couldn’t be salvaged. Amazingly, the home’s original owners left its windows, floors and doors untouched. Even the original telephone niche is still present in the hallway.

“Some of the houses from that era are tear-downs. We didn’t really want to do that. To me, it’s sad to tear down a house from that wonderful era. The house had really good structural integrity. We had to shore up the foundation a little bit, but it was very much intact. There was so much about it that was preserved and original to the era,” Martin says.

The home’s old-school charm wasn’t immediately apparent when Martin and her husband went to view it with their real-estate agent, however.

“It was probably the ugliest house we looked at,” Martin says. “It had never even been sheetrocked, and the previous owners put wood paneling right over the shiplap and hammered in shag carpeting over the wood floors. There were bars on the windows. I was like, ‘No way.’ The real-estate guy and my husband were like, ‘Come on, let’s take another look,’ so we went back. I peeked under the shag carpeting and the wood paneling and saw the original wood floors and doors, and I said, ‘OK, there’s something here.’ ”

Inside, the clean lines of midcentury-modern furniture combined with colorful folk art and letterpress-printed posters give the home a cohesive yet eclectic feel. Martin and her husband are both avid antique collectors. She has an affinity for glassware and he’s fond of fans. And their
collections are placed artfully throughout their home. Art created by their 10-year-old son, Cooper, is also featured prominently throughout the house.

“He’s turning into a great budding artist. There’s an Austin cityscape he’s done that I’m really fond of that’s right above my desk in the guest room,” Martin says.

The couple kept the original floor plan of the house intact, enclosing the large sun porch to construct their master bedroom and bathroom. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom house has a modest floor plan of 1500 square feet, making the spacious front porch and backyard prime spots for hanging out and entertaining guests.

“When we have a party, we’ll set up the bar in the backyard. A lot of times, we have a vegetarian or vegan potluck where we ask everyone to bring their favorite dishes, throw all the food on the dining room table and let everyone grab a plate and take it outside,” Martin says.

Martin enlisted local landscape designer Mark Word, known for his work on the San Jose and St. Cecilia hotels, to landscape the front and back yards. The home is situated on a steep hill, so water runoff from heavy rains posed a challenge. Originally, a tall cinderblock retaining wall designed to keep water away from the house blocked the view to the backyard. Word removed the wall and built a comfortable seating area, complete with an outdoor fireplace, that works with the sloped terrain. Drought-tolerant plants in the front yard complement the lush greenery of the oak trees, and stay green throughout the year despite watering restrictions.

“In the front, it was all about adding low-maintenance, bold planting where there’s a lot of western sun exposure. In the back, we wanted to create a moment of respite in the shade with a happy-hour lounge area,” Word says.

A home, however, is so much more than just walls and a roof. It provides comfort and refuge in the toughest of times, of which Martin has had her fair share. At just 33 years old, Martin was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer, despite having no family history. Her unusual diagnosis prompted her younger sister to get screened, who was also diagnosed shortly afterward. Throughout their treatments, the sisters relied on one another for support and advice.

“The one bright spot was that we were going through it together. The way things went with us, I was a little ahead of her in chemotherapy, but she did her double mastectomy before me. She had done certain things I hadn’t done yet, so I could take advice from her. And I’d done things she hadn’t done yet, so she could take advice from me,” Martin says.

At the time of Martin’s diagnosis, her son had just turned 1 year old, and she was running her own private law practice. Even with the support of her sister, Martin felt different from older women who didn’t share the challenge of balancing a career and child care with their treatments.

“It was really different being so young. You’re in the oncology office getting chemotherapy, and you don’t see anybody your age. It’s really strange. So you kind of don’t know what to do and you don’t really know who to turn to,” Martin says.

Martin eventually connected with a few other young women like her, and they learned about an upcoming conference held by the Young Survivor Coalition, a national group that provides resources for young women with breast cancer. Even though she was in the middle of chemotherapy, Martin and her friends flew to Denver to attend the conference.

“All of a sudden, we were in a room with 300 other young women, and we were like, ‘Wow, we’re not alone,’ ” Martin says.

On the plane ride home, the group decided they needed a local support group for young women diagnosed with breast cancer. They named their group The Pink Ribbon Cowgirls, and organized monthly lunches and a private chat room to facilitate resource sharing in a safe space.

“We came at it very organically with what felt good to us. The traditional way that women did support groups was to sit with a therapist and talk about how horrible this thing was. We didn’t like that, collectively as young women. We didn’t have time for a bitch session; we had careers and children to raise. It was all about who the best reconstructive surgeon was, or who the best oncologist that really understood women’s issues was. We really just needed information,” Martin says.

The Pink Ribbon Cowgirls eventually became affiliated with the Breast Cancer Resource Centers of Texas, and grew large enough that it needed a full-time patient navigator to run the program. To fundraise for the patient navigator, the group coordinated with the executive director of BCRC to plan the very first Art Bra Austin event. At the event, women in all stages of breast cancer model decorated bras in a runway show, and the bras are auctioned off at the end of the night. Art Bra Austin has become such a success that it now provides fundraising for all of the center’s programs.

“I think the coolest thing about the event was not the money it raised, but the experience for the models. All the models are survivors of all ages who are in all stages of treatment. Some are still in chemo, some are not reconstructed and they’re just really beautiful and proud. It’s one of the things I’m most proud of. I get so many women who come up to me and say, ‘Thank you for starting this, this changed my life,’ ” Martin says.

After completing a full year of chemotherapy treatments, Martin began searching for anything she could do to aid her recovery and get back to feeling normal again.

“After I finished with my treatment, I was really broken down mentally and physically,” Martin says. “The goal of chemotherapy is to completely strip away your immune system so that you can kill the cancer, and you have to figure out a way to rebuild it. I went on a journey to figure out something I could control in the equation.”

About the same time, wellness activist Kris Carr came to Austin to premiere her film Crazy Sexy Cancer, which
documents the changes she made to her lifestyle and diet after becoming diagnosed with a rare and incurable form of cancer. After seeing the film, Martin bought Carr’s book by the same name, and read every book about the connection between food and disease that she could get her hands on.

“I read a lot of literature by Michael Pollan, and the China study by Dr. Campbell. Through that study, he was able to draw some strong correlations between the food we eat and the diseases it causes, cancer being at the top of the list,” Martin says.

After learning about the connection between cancer and food (specifically, the excess consumption of processed food and animal products), Martin made the transition to veganism and started eating raw foods and drinking green juice to supplement her recovery.

“It made me feel insanely better,” Martin says. “I could tell it was flooding my body with nutrients. My hair started
growing back really fast. My skin started looking great. My eyes got bright. I got healthy really quickly. It was very noticeable compared to how long it took some of my friends to get healthy again. I definitely attribute it to the juice and the vegan diet that went along with it.”

After entering remission, Martin continued working in law as the general counsel for a successful telecom company, but continued to share the benefits of green juice with her friends and family.

“My friends and family, they would do it for about three months. After three months, everybody said, ‘This is hard. I’m putting the juicer away.’ ‘Can you just make the juice for me?’ was the question I got the most,” Martin says.

Despite wanting to become a lawyer since the age of 6, Martin found herself at a crossroads. She felt passionate about making green juice, and became encouraged by the curiosity of strangers, who seemed more receptive to the idea of drinking green juice than ever.

“I felt like there was enough universal acceptance of green juice. People were actually starting to stop me in the street and say, ‘What are you drinking there? Did you make that? Tell me how to do that!’ ” Martin says. “I asked myself, ‘In a perfect world, what would I do?’ And for me, I would make green juice for everybody.”

And that’s exactly what she did. Martin brought 60 bottles of Daily Greens juice to the Mueller Farmers Market in 2010, and sold out in just two hours. The next weekend, she doubled her production and sold out a second time. She brought on a production manager and kept adding farmers markets throughout Austin. Within a month, Wheatsville Food Co-op put Daily Greens on their shelves, followed closely by Central Market and Whole Foods.

Today, Daily Greens is available in more than 600 stores throughout the country. The six varieties of green juices and two raw hemp milks are manufactured in East Austin using organic, GMO-free local ingredients. The high-quality cold-pressed processing method ensures the juice packs tons of flavor and the highest amount of nutrients.

“The dark leafy greens have so much of what you need. They’re high in calcium, iron and absorbable protein. To me, green juice is really the fountain of youth,” Martin says.

While recovering from chemotherapy, Martin also began doing juice cleanses as a way to eliminate the toxins from her system.

“Part of your lower intestines’ job is to pull toxins out of your body and move them on through. But it can’t do that when you’re digesting food all day long, so you’ve got to give it a break. While you’re giving it a break, though, you want to infuse your body with as many nutrients as possible; you don’t want to just starve yourself,” Martin explains. “I fell into a nice rhythm of doing a cleanse at the beginning of every season. I love shopping at the farmers market, so I would go and fill my bag full of everything that was in season, drink green juice during the day and make myself a big raw dinner in the evening.”

Although Martin didn’t formulate Daily Greens with juice cleansing in mind, people kept asking if they could use the juice for cleanses. At first, Martin was hesitant to give out information on cleansing.

“Some people have taken cleansing to the extreme by using it for weight loss; they don’t eat during the cleanse and it’s unhealthy that way. You can really unbalance your hormones and your blood sugar by drinking only juice,” Martin says.

Martin began posting the recipes for her seasonal cleanses on the Daily Greens website until a year’s worth of cleanses was available. It generated so much attention that she combined her story with the cleanse recipes and turned it into a book, {Daily Greens 4-Day Cleanse}, which will be available in March. The book contains instructions and recipes for four gentle seasonal cleanses, which involve drinking juice during the day and eating a raw dinner at night for four days.

“Writing the book was really cathartic. It was a nice look back at how I got here, why I eat the way I eat and why I cleanse the way I cleanse,” Martin says.

Part of the proceeds from the book will be donated to programs that provide support and services to young women battling breast cancer. Daily Greens also supports vital programs for young women through the Drink Your Veggies for Change Campaign. Earlier this year, the company presented $5,000 to the Breast Cancer Resource Centers’ Lotus Forum, a support group for women 45 years old and younger who have been diagnosed with stage four metastatic breast cancer.

“I feel a huge burden to help this under-represented segment of breast-cancer survivors, having been one of them, and to make green juice available and affordable for everyone. It’s a lifelong obsession,” Martin says. “I really believe drinking green juice makes people so much healthier, and sets them on a path to a long-term healthy lifestyle.”

Shauna’s Green Juice Challenge

By Shauna Martin

My hope for you is that by the end of your four-day cleanse, you will crave a morning green juice as much as I do. In order to do so, however, you will need to make it your own. You will need to play with it until it is the perfect mixture of vegetables and fruit (if needed) to rock your day and get it started off right. I challenge you to play around with your morning green juice until you truly make it your own. If you own it, you will drink one every morning for the rest of your life.

To help you get started, I will share a little secret with you about the perfect proportions for making a fantastic green juice. Follow these and you will be a happy camper every time you make a green juice.

Simple Green Juice Formula

Ingredients:

  • 2 parts sweet, juicy greens (celery, cucumber, romaine)
  • 1 part fruit (apple, watermelon, pear, pineapple)
  • 1 part dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, collard greens)
  • 1/4 part herb (mint, basil, cilantro, parsley)

Shauna’s Morning Greens

This is the recipe I started with when I first started juicing, which I now refer to as my morning greens. At first, I had to add a ton of apple to my juice to make it palatable. But day after day, I noticed my palate being cleansed of my cravings for sugar, and the apple started to taste sickeningly sweet. The act of drinking greens every morning truly changed my palate in dramatic ways. After several months of drinking this every morning, I could actually taste every single ingredient in it with a newly refreshed palate similar to the one I had as a child. I started to really crave my morning greens.

Ingredients: 

Basic components:  

  • 1/2 bunch of kale (You may substitute other dark greens you have on hand if desired.)
  • 1 cucumber
  • 5 celery stalks or one head of romaine (if you don’t like celery)

 To cut the greenness add:  1/4 lemon , Ginger root (about a 1/4 inch)

 To add flair include:  Handful of basil or mint (This will wake up your nose and start your day off right with a nice aromatic flair.)

 If more sweetness is desired, add: 1/2 apple or pear (or 1/4 of either or both) (This may be needed at first, but I would recommend challenging yourself to cut out a bit more of the fruit each day and try to progress to the point of eliminating all fruit.)

 Directions: 

Wash the cucumber, celery (or romaine) and kale (or other dark greens) well. If adding lemon, cut the peel off the lemon and quarter. If adding ginger, wash the root and cut off a 1/4 inch. If adding mint or basil, wash and cut off long stems. If adding fruit, wash, core and cut the apple or pear and cut into pieces that will fit in your juicer. Run everything through your juicer, scrape off foam (if desired) and enjoy!

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