Love is in the air: Loving Hut leap of faith pays off

I had never heard of Loving Hut until a fellow Aussie vegan blogger residing in Brisbane wrote how it was one of his favourite restaurants early last year. I was thrilled to learn a Perth branch opened. Not just one, but two! A restaurant and a café!

First off, a history of the business. It’s a family of global vegan restaurants that has won numerous awards such as VegNews 2012 Favourite Vegan Restaurant, 2012 Vegan of the Year: Outstanding Vegan Business (Asia) and 2012 Vegan of the Year: Oustanding Vegan Restaurant (UK/Europe) – Menton, France. The founder believes (as do all vegans) “a plant-based diet is healthier, more compassionate, and is the only sustainable diet for the whole planet”.

Each Loving Hut is individually owned and managed (ie. Owners are given full autonomy of the menu), meaning no two restaurants are the same.

I have been to both Perth Loving Huts several times, and on this occasion hubby and I dropped in for breakfast to the café. I opted for the raw sandwich, only because it was something I’d never tried before and hubby chose the Big Breakfast. For drinks – two freshly pressed juices.

Hubby is blessed with a fast metabolism. He can eat like a horse and not exercise. Doesn’t gain a kilo. Mucho unfair *fist shaking in the air*. He was sceptical how ‘big’ Loving Hut’s Big Breakfast was going to be, but ceased all worrying when his food arrived.

The big V brekky

The big V brekky

For $15, it’s really good value. Toast, scrambled tofu, cherry tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms and a vegan sausage. He managed to finish it and said the scramble tasted exactly like eggs.

My raw sandwich consisted of ‘bread’ on either side of julienned vegetables. The dehydrated flaxseed bread wasn’t too salty and the texture was as bread-like as you could get. It was just right. The tasty relishes on the side were ohhh la la. One was tomato chutney and the other I’m actually not sure. It was sweet and yellow. Hmm, will have to ask next time.

raw sandwich

raw sandwich

A cursory glance at the desserts cabinet and I’m a goner. I never can say no. Problem: It was a bit early for sweets in the day. Solution: Takeaway! Hubby was too full to even go halves with me. On previous occasions I’d tried the (cooked) tiramisu, chocolate, mocha and carrot cakes, and of course the to-die-for soft serve icecream. Opting for the raw route, I take home a slice of raw mixed berry cheesecake and a raw pistachio macaroon.  (Side note:  later that afternoon we devoured the desserts.  Hubby said it’s the best raw cheesecake he’s had out of all the establishments we’ve tried!)

in the raw:  berry cheesecake and pistachio macaroon

in the raw: berry cheesecake and pistachio macaroon

The Loving Hut café not only has organic coffee, teas, juices, a salad bar, hot food station and dessert cabinet – they also dedicate a few shelves to vegan products such as Notzarella cheese, Primal Strips seitan vegan jerky, the Lam Yong range and Tofutti mock cream cheese among others.

As we were enjoying our meal, there was a steady stream of customers dropping in. The owner of Loving Hut Perth, Lee, says a wide variety of people come through the doors. Many are not vegans, they simply want a good feed that doesn’t cost the earth, like most things in Perth.

The next time I visit? I notice they have a Vegan Dim Sum on the menu. Their menu changes according to what’s in season, which keeps things fresh and sustainable.

Want to know more?

self-serve salad bar

self-serve salad bar

The Loving Hut Low Down:  1 Minute with Lee Mah, Owner of Loving Hut Perth

Lee Mah and her entire family are vegan.  She has a background in the restaurant business, owning two vegetarian establishments before foraying into the Loving Hut family.  In addition to running the two Loving Huts, Lee is also the Western Australian producer of vegan cheese Notzarella.  Those that haven’t tried it – you gotta.  A subtle tasting cheese, it melts and shreds just like mainstream cheese.  Melted on top of pizzas, lasagnas or as a grilled ‘cheeze’ sandwich?   Ohh la la…

Vegetarian / vegan since:

Vegetarian for over 15 years, vegan for 5 years.

Most popular dishes on the menu:

Thai green curry, sizzling peking and the mushroom delight.

Most touching Loving Hut moment:

At last week’s Running Raw around Australia Fundraising event in Cottesloe, Lee experienced something innately rewarding. A customer told her that her mother, after visiting Loving Hut Perth Cafe some months ago – has turned vegan. Lee further shares “I am touched…., and overwhelmed with gratitude and warmth. Though we have no intention of trying to convert anyone, we are simply providing vegan food and a venue for people to have an experience of eating vegan meals, However comments like this mean a lot to us all at Loving Hut Perth.”

(Note:  Running Raw around Australia is the initiative of cancer survivor Janette Murray-Wakelin & partner Alan Murray.  This couple are running 1 marathon per day for 365 days around the nation.  Why?  To draw attention to conscious lifestyle choices, kindness, compassion, sustainability and environmental awareness).

The Future of Loving Hut:

Exciting plans are underway to expand Notzarella production and Loving Hut’s famous pies.  In just 3 weeks’ time, you’ll be able to purchase Lee’s pies from your local IGA.  Hurrah!  Cue happy dance here.  As for Notzarella, Melbourne and Adelaide will follow suit, and there are currently 100 outlets in WA which stock it with this number set to increase.

Lee describes Loving Hut as being the medium to which she can promote a benevolent and peaceful world, a simple, humble vegan cafe and restaurant which is hoping to be able to serve the Perth community.

A generous soul, Lee has offered a 10% discount for my blog followers! Give the code “FriskaLove” to the Loving Hut staff when dining in the café or restaurant. This discount is valid from 3 months as of today. That means it expires on 12 December 2013 people.
NB: As of 23 September, Loving Hut East Victoria Park will only be open for dinner on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays as they ramp up Notzarella production.  Rest assured this is only temporary!  Best to like their Facebook page to keep abreast of their updates.
Loving Hut Cafe and Mini Mart
Shop 19, 366 Albany Highway
Victoria Park (Mon-Fri 10am-2.30pm, Weekend 10am-4.30pm)
9470 3969Loving Hut Restaurant
64A Etwell Street
East Victoria Park (Wed-Sun 5-9pm, Fri-Sun 5-9pm as of 23 September)
9470 6162
hot food station

hot food station

Guilt-free Gelato – Raw, Vegan, 1-button, 5-ingredient Deliciousness

Yes, I have been MIA of late.

The lack of posts are attributed to moi doing more eating than ‘raw food-ing’ of late.  Winter does that to the best of us.  (At least that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it 😛 )

Let me make it up to you!  An easy peasy dessert awaits.

Late in the night, hubby and I had a hankering for something sweet.  However that something sweet couldn’t be the calorific equivalent to slaving away for 2 hours on a treadmill.

Enter some staple vegan ingredients.

coconut | carob | cacao | blueberries

coconut | carob | cacao | blueberries

I was all out of frozen bananas (my go-to substitute for icecream), but was determined to make this work.

Throwing everything together in my trusty kick-ass blender, I pressed a button and waited for the magic to happen

Guilt-free Gelato – Raw Vegan Choc-Blueberry 

handful frozen blueberries
2 tbs agave
1/4 cup coconut cream
4-5 tbs raw cacao powder + optional raw carob nibs
1 tsp vanilla essence
ice blocks (approx 3-5)

Blitz the heck out of it till creamy.  Scoff.

Ohh, so good.  The creaminess of the coconut combined with the obliterated ice blocks gave it a soft-serve luxurious texture.  I decorated with a sprinkling of shredded coconut on top.

Hubby gave it the thumbs up too.

The flavour combinations are endless!

Does anyone have any rare flavoured gelato recipes?  I’d be keen to try something out of the ordinary, like fig and macadamia perhaps?

instant gelato, blender required.

instant gelato, blender required.

Karen B: Raw healing – A Nutritionist, Naturopath, Chef and Author heals herself

Karen Bartz, 56, is a fully Qualified Nutritionist and Naturopath who resides in Perth.  She seems to live in Heaven.  No, not the one with the big pearly gates, instead this Heaven is the raw vegan cafe at FERN, short for the Fremantle Environmental Resource Network.  I’m an avid frequenter of the cafe, gorging on the delicious raw vegan fare whether it’s mexican burritos, chocolate macaroons or cold pressed chai lattes.

Four years raw

Four years raw

FERN runs on donations businesses and volunteers.  Monday night is soupi night, a vegan feast by donation. For those yet to drop by, make it a must do on your list!  There are chickens roaming around the grounds, bicycles to ‘adopt’, a free library to browse through and lessons to learn in sustainability, gardening and overall health and well-being.  The cafe is open Tuesday – Sunday from 10am-4pm.  Often there are special events such as Drum Circles, Reiki Sessions and Fire Walking.  The FERN website is currently under reconstruction so for those seeking upcoming event information, the Soupi and Fremantle Environmental Resource Network Facebook pages are the place to go.

Karen is the author of best-selling book ‘Raw Food Awakening’ and has been on a raw vegan diet for the past 4 years.  She also runs regular raw food classes.

Below is her story…

Your journey to vegetarianism / veganism:

I became unwell while studying naturopathy and nothing seemed to work.  I was fed up with medical tests and supplements.  One day I doused my food to see what was best for me to eat – so much was making me feel worse!  I switched to 80% raw at that point but still ate minimal amounts of fish.  I totally eliminated dairy and eggs.  Miraculously, I felt better and six months later had an all-raw lecturer at college.

“I then went the other 20% and after two weeks felt better than I had in 30 years.”

I believe by experiencing the 6-month gentle introduction on 80% raw was just what I needed, considering I was coming from the dark depths of unwellness to begin with. Incidentally, prior to raw food I tried the blood type diet.  I am blood type O, according to the diet I was supposed to do better on the Paleo diet.  It was not successful for me.

raw goodies by Karen

raw goodies by Karen

What’s the most remarkable benefit or change (could be physical, mental or emotional) you’ve noticed since becoming vegan?

I feel extremely well and energised!  I could not run the cafe for 6 days a week at the age of 56 that’s for sure.  I cannot eat dairy in any case, as I get a hormonal reaction from it.  With meat I am affected by the adrenalin present in the animals’ system so I get stressed and fearful.

At college they thought I was a little strange but now three of my lecturers from that time work in the raw food industry.

Also, I was not expecting the enlightening experience of spiritual awakening on raw!

A typical day’s meals for you?

Breakfast: Large bowl of chia porridge with homemade nut milk with just vanilla powder and cinnamon to sweeten, topped with chopped fruit.  Today I had pear, strawberry and mango.

Lunch: Large salad with dehydrated onion bread and a nutcheese for lunch.

Snacks: Usually a dehydrated cookie and a large green juice in there somewhere.  Occasionally beetroot juice.

Dinner: Usually more onion bread or dehydrated pizza crackers with avocado and more fresh fruit.

I do drink herbal tea.  Current favourites are lemon and ginger and chai with heated nut milk.

Biggest challenges / obstacles of being vegan:

None.  The pay off is huge plus I get adverse reactions if I stray from my raw vegan lifestyle.  I also surround myself with what is required to stay on track as it’s that important to me, hence I choose to run a raw vegan cafe.  Problem solved!

Advice to newbie vegans:

Follow your heart, consider raw food over processed vegan junk food

Biggest misconception about vegans:

That they are less physically strong.  Studies prove otherwise.
That they are intolerant/aggressive.  Perhaps some are.
But the most successful at influencing others, I have noticed, are the ones who aren’t.

tiramisu

tiramisu

Life motto / personal philosophy:

Follow your heart

Favourite vegan products:

Barefooters, Italian rubber shoes with cork liners, Chia seeds.

Inspirations:

Valerie Boutenko, Fred Bisci PhD

Karen’s Chia Porridge

1 young coconut
3-4 tbs chia seeds

Blend water and meat of 1 young coconut and then stir in 3-4 tbs chia seeds and stir till thick (about 5 minutes).

Alternatively blend a handful of raw almonds with 1 1/2 cups filtered water and then add chia seeds to that.

You can stir in the blender on slowest setting or food processor. Serve with chopped fresh fruit.

384202_333503380000073_2123772656_n

Pasta Power: raw vegan guilt-free comfort food

Raw pasta?  You bet.  I’ve made raw pasta from zucchinis, carrots and coconut flesh.

This version uses zucchinis (aka summer squash, courgette) for the pasta.  A few health benefits of the zucchini:

  • Very low calorie at 17 calories per 100g, moderately rich in folates and high in potassium – useful in weight reduction, cell division and reducing blood pressure
  • No saturated fats or cholesterol.
  • Zucchini peel is rich in dietary fibre, helping to reduce constipation and protect against colon cancer.
  • Golden-skinned zucchinis are rich in flavonoids and antioxidants such as carotenes, lutein and zea-xanthin.
  • Fresh pods are rich in vitamin A and C, with moderate traces of B-complex vitamins thiamin, pyridoxine, riboflavin and minerals like iron, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc.

This member of the squash family has smooth tender skin, high water content and small seeds in their flesh.  A versatile vegetable, they can be consumed raw or cooked.  In the raw, they can be sliced and added to salads or grated into raw patties.  When I do actually ‘cook’, I throw grated zucchini into chocolate muffins, top pizzas with them or roast them in the oven with herbs and spices.

Raw Zucchini Pasta and Marinara Sauce

Zucchini Noodles

2-3 raw unpeeled zucchinis (aka courgettes)

Cut the ends off the zucchini.  Use a veg peeler or spiralizer to make noodles.

Marinara Sauce

½ cup sundried tomatoes (reserve some oil)
1 cup almonds (soaked the night before)
1 heaped tbs tomato paste
½ red capsicum, chopped
½ cup dried basil
1 tbsp finely chopped onion
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp sea salt
Optional: 1/4 tsp dried chili flakes

Puree all ingredients together in either a food processor or blender until creamy.  Add more water if the mixture is too thick.

This recipe easily serves 4. Oh, and I sprinkled sprouted buckwheat on top for some crunch.

The marinara sauce packs a heck of a lot of flavour, and the nuts give it a thick consistency.

It can double as a dip for vegetable crudites or as a spread on toasted bread.  There’s no nutritional yeast in the sauce, however it tastes quite ‘cheesy’ – reminiscent of a sundried tomato infused cheese.

You could also use a melon baller to shape the thick sauce into balls a la meatballs.

Pasta is a widely popular dish – for ages I went without as I did not know of a healthier alternative.  Now you can put plenty on your plate without feeling plump at the end of it!

raw vegan zucchini pasta

raw vegan zucchini pasta

Nikki M: Raw and vegan in NYC

Nikki comes from halfway across the world.  I was living in Los Angeles when I first met her nearly 5 years ago.  She is a woman after my own heart (ie. desserts addict!).
Below is her journey to veganism and how it helped overcome various physical ailments.
The Basics:
Nikki Mitchell, lives in New York but originally from Long Beach, California.  Now works at one of the best NYC wine and cheese restaurants located in Hell’s Kitchen.  Being a vegan, she does not consume cheese anymore (or tries hard not to! She may taste here and there so she has a general idea of the taste and can describe items to customers).
Nikki M

Nikki M

Why veganism?
What got me on this road to drastically change my eating habits?  Its hard to pin point a specific day but when I was 18 I met my first vegan.  Her mother was diabetic at the time and had really bad legs due to bad circulation and she was severely obese.  Her name was Brie and she was really skinny and super serious about what went into her body. I remember chowing down on rice and vienna sausage out of a can and thinking…..you don’t eat sausage!!  Also, my grandmother suffered from weight issues and various cancers through her life, and I took care of her at the age of 9 til she passed away in 97, I was 18 and broken-hearted.
A few years later I wanted to be a make up artist.  At the time I worked at Borders Book store and bought books on how to take care of your skin as I felt this was the real beauty secret and make up was just the fun stuff for special occasions.  I was hype to study skin and tackle my own problems as I knew I was gonna get asked about my own skin regiment and I wanted beautiful skin.  At the time it was oily and the pores were big.  Not horrible skin but not great either.  I had no idea at that time that the real cure was food. 
During my time at the book store my allergies became increasing horrible.  I was sneezing and coughing and everything set it off.  First thing in the morning my throat and nose was itchy and scratchy.  I was constantly doped up on anti-histamines and just miserable.  I had no health insurance, which would only shove experimental allergy drugs my way, and again a feeling like I can take care of this problem came to me.  I studied on my lunch breaks at the bookstore on how to cure allergies.  I believed in prevention and not pharmaceutical addiction.  Taking care of my grandmother for years and all the meds she took left a bad impression on me.
With some solid research and a willingness to take a risk I bought a juicer.  A juice man juicer.  I bought the Bragg’s apple cider vinegar book and all its amazing cures, that I still use til this day.  So here I was 23 yrs old ( I am now 34).  I have my juicer and decide to fast for 3 days.  What I learned was that I was toxic and I needed to clean my system.  My boyfriend at the time thought I was crazy and laughed.  But I was high just thinking of how this might change me from the inside out.  I was so depressed and miserable and I wanted to be a make up artist with good skin and not show up to work with puffy eyes and a red irritated nose.  Juicing was great for skin as well!!
“6 months later I was cured (of all my allergies).  They have never come back like they were when I was 23.  Here and there when Spring comes I will sneeze once or twice.  Everyone around me is miserable with their seasonal allergies and taking drugs for them.  Nope not me.  But I was young and still felt invincible.  I was a vegetarian for about a year not too long after I cured myself of allergies. “
I ate cheese and french fries.  Now I was suffering from constipation.  haha..
Falling off the wagon…
So finally I got my dream job working for M.A.C. cosmetics and it was stressful and I was living on my own and I was single.  I started to drink more alcohol and I was not a vegetarian anymore.  My morning breakfast was a sugary coffee of some sort and a croissant, sometimes a cinnamon roll.  Ugh…..thinking about it now I cannot believe I was not bigger.  I was a mess and my mouth paid for it.  Before I moved to New York I took advantage of my insurance and went to the dentist.  I had 11 cavities.  Yes….11.  Disgusting.
I moved to New York, mouth filled with porcelain and a new attitude.  Long story short…bad intimate relationships followed more heavy drinking and bad eating…wham….bam…..150 lbs at my heaviest, a constant bloated belly, constipated, irritable and unmotivated.  I was a mess.  To top it off my apt was burglarized and not too long after that I was homeless.
A few friends took me in and I had the couch.  No computer, a crappy job at Sephora I had a lot of time to think by myself.  My health and spirit in a prison of self pity, but again I was determined to change my situation.  I found solid work in 2010, where I am now.  I bought all my stuff back that was stolen from me and started buying kitchen machines.  I knew I had to get my health back.
Getting back on the vegan track!
I reopened books I had carried with me from working at Borders.  My juicing books and holistic books on everything from detoxing mind body and spirit.  I saved like crazy to buy a Vitamix blender, I got a food processor as a gift as I was always talikng about getting one.  I bought expensive German knives.  I started Youtubing on how to use knives correctly and also found herbalist and a vegan/raw community on Youtube.  These people have helped me in so many ways, its incredible.  But I definitely owe it to Kristina, from Fully Raw Kristina who continues to teach the amazing benefits of raw food and its amazing ability to cure mind body and spirit.
Going gluten-free
In the course of all this change for me I was experiencing some serious energy drops after I would eat.  I couldn’t stay awake and I was so dehydrated.  I couldn’t understand, I was juicing again, cutting back on meat to just fish.  Than one day it hit me.  Gluten…..my body was not responding to it in a good way anymore, if it ever really did.  Years of eating bread and pasta and sugary gluten goodies.  My body did not know how to process it.  So to use energy to break down the gluten and other food I would knock out in a hard sleep while my body spent the energy in my tummy breaking it down.  I have been gluten free since January of 2013 and lost 20 lbs, and have been incorporating a more raw food lifestyle as well.
A typical day for me:
My day starts off with watermelon juice, and either chopped apple or pineapple to follow.  I am energetic with the natural sugars and feel like I had a cup of strong coffee but no refined sugar and no dehydration.  I have a sugar tooth so staying away from refined sugar can be challenging.  I try to make raw deserts and my own nut butters.  I make my own vegan nutella using coconut sugar and vanilla extract for sweetness and flavoring.  This is my go to for when I get a sweet attack.  I’ll dip apples in it or bananas. Every Monday I grab my rolling cart and head to the store and literally pile bags of oranges, mangos, pineapple and watermelon into my cart. I get home and clean my fruit and chop it up for the next few days.
Food as medicine:
One personal thing I want to share is I have fibroids.  About 8 of them, and one connected to my uterus that causes me to bleed heavily every month and makes me mildly anemic.  Juicing has helped to incorporate greens for iron in my body that I would not normally eat daily. I believe the fibroids are there because the body manifested them.  Stress, bad eating and a negative mind created them.  Now I have to reverse their hold on my body and set them free.
“Good eating, a positive mind and a true understanding that mother earths foods are, our best medicine.  I cured my allergies, I am no longer constipated, I have energy and a healthy weight that does not hold me back from being active.  Dairy, refined sugar, and flours are killing us slowing.  We have to educate ourselves to change our minds about what health is.  And what it should feel like and look like.  You will smile more, love stronger and feel amazing.  This is what has happened to me.  Try not to judge others but be an example.  This is a real challenge as you want to share with others your small miracles.  And you can, but actions are better.  This has been my lesson.  I am so grateful for the humility as it has been a great teacher.  This life style can bring amazing vitality and a sensitivity to all living things.  That is GODLY!”
Accountability.  Responsibility.  This is where you will find the greatest strength to make changes in your life.  I had to take responsibility for my health issues and reverse the damage.  No blame.
Advice to newbie vegans
Take it slow.  If you don’t you will cheat.  Start to incorporate more fruits and veggies into your daily life.  It’s pretty simple.  It’s great because you are adding instead of feeling like you are sacrificing something out of your life.  Try not to talk too much about what you are changing, just be about it.  This will allow less stress on you while you are building confidence and learning about healthier habits for yourself.  Your actions will speak for you.  If you are looking for a community and want to share, this is great.  Seek like minded individuals who share your philosophy.  Watch videos, make a new dish once a week..a smoothie, dessert or main dish, etc etc.
“When you get in your kitchen and start looking out for #1, your labour will turn into love, I promise.”
Biggest misconception about vegans:
One of the annoying things about food transitioning is the bad “media” about ppl who go veg!  A lot of times vegetarians and vegans get a bad rep about being self-righteous and preachy.  Or controlling in some way about what they eat and begin to make others feel judged.  This does exist, but this is not about feeling labeled and excluding yourself or others.  This is about “living”.  And living honestly, with food that is going to give you continued energy and vitality.  Where disease does not exist and Dr. visits are just for a regular check up, nothing more.  You can take pride in your efforts and changes, but be grateful that you have the luxury to choose.  People naturally resist change so you have to be patient with others and yourself.
Life philosophy:
“There is no try….it’s do or do not”.  I try not to talk up my ideas before I’ve had a chance to experience them.  That goes for anything in my life.  ‘Im not perfect but everyday I get closer and closer to my goals.
Nikki’s Vegan Nutella
vegan nutella

vegan nutella