America is in the deep end of a decades-long affair with fast food. Can you blame us? We have busy mornings, long days at work, and a McDonald’s on every block along our hour-long commutes home. For most of us, even when we want to eat healthy, fast food is just undeniably easier - and, though none of us want to admit it, tastier.
This is where Lifehouse Tonics comes in. It’s an L.A.-based superfood smoothie shop founded on the idea that eating healthy should be about indulging, not restricting - a place where restorative herbs and medicinal mushrooms can be just as convenient, addictive, and delicious as a cheeseburger and fries. For co-founder Jack Latner, the goal is to make drinks that taste so good that people feel like they’re getting away with something, cheating on their diets, being “bad.”
Take the Shroom Shake, for example: a coffee-chocolate-cinnamon shake blended with ten types of mushrooms renowned for their holistic healing properties. Or the Mango Lassi, a mango coconut smoothie packed with probiotics and hormone-balancing plants. “You are allowed to indulge,” says Jack. “You should be doing the things you love. But at the same time, why can’t you love whole, healthy foods?”
This philosophy - that we should have a space amidst restlessness where we are allowed to indulge in the things we love - is what led Jack to find his dream home in the Hollywood Hills.
To be fair, in Los Angeles, a true and total escape from the city is impossible. But for Jack and his wife Marci, their house is as close to nature as you could get. The living room opens up to the sprawling backdrop of hills and mountains. Their patio offers a view of the canyon, surrounded by leaves and branches. A live sycamore tree twists its way up from the kitchen to the upstairs bedroom, growing unflinchingly through the heart of the house.
Marci puts it simply: “We like to relax.” Each day she takes her dog Stanley for an early morning walk along the quiet canyon trails; each evening, she goes out to the hammock on the patio to read and catch the sunset. Being surrounded by nature gives her the feeling that she’s found the impossible - a space in the city to relax, reflect, and take time to enjoy the things that she loves. “It makes us feel like we’re in the middle of nowhere,” she says.
Dinner at the Latner home is simple and relaxed. On the menu are Asian-inspired food and “anything from Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook”; sharing the meal are close family members or just Jack and Marci alone. “I’m too scared to cook for anybody else right now,” Marci says. (Though Jack insists: “Marci’s an incredible cook.”) When they do invite friends over, they gather in an outdoor wing of the house they call the “crow’s nest.” With a TV, fireplace, plenty of seating, and an unfiltered view of the canyon, it’s the perfect space to spend time with friends and unwind at the end of the day.
“You feel disconnected from the city, especially there,” says Jack. Marci summarizes: “It’s not your average living room.”
For Jack, the house’s unique design was a perfect getaway from the “straight lines and picket fences” of the suburbs. It’s a space that gives him and Marci the freedom to express their own distinctive style. “We love our classic rock, our mid-century furniture,” says Jack. “We’re nostalgic people.”
Jack certainly isn’t afraid to look to the past for meaning and inspiration. He attributes part of his passion for food and wellness - the driving force behind Lifehouse Tonics - to his mother’s emphasis on “whole foods, low sugar, and home-cooked meals.” And many of the most meaningful objects in his home have stories behind them: auction pieces, one-of-a-kind furniture, things from his childhood. To sum it all up is a Lawrence Weiner quote written along a wall in their house: “Written after any given time, read after any given time.”
To Jack, this quote speaks about timelessness. Our homes should give us a peaceful and personal space to reflect on the past - and, in doing so, allow us to enjoy living in the present. Maybe we can’t all live in a gorgeous dream house surrounded by nature in the middle of nowhere, but we can still fill our homes with people and memories that matter to us. In that way, we can find our own alternative to urban restlessness - our own escape.
“All of these things need to be remembered and carried forward to really enjoy the things that you love,” says Jack. “And that’s the most important thing.”
In the end, being able to enjoy ourselves is the goal. It’s the same principle behind Lifehouse Tonics - we can find time in our busy lives to take care of ourselves, we can find a space in the hustle and bustle of the city to enjoy doing what we love. Whether it’s the food we put into our bodies or the stories we bring into our homes, it’s through joy that our choices turn into something meaningful.