Vegan in the Valley: A Visit to Swan Valley Vegetarian Cafe

Perhaps it was a case of ‘third time lucky’.  This was visit #3 to the Swan Valley Vegetarian Café.  My past two visits were for brunch and a PM coffee’n’cake session in the second half of last year.  For those that don’t know, the Swan Valley Vegetarian Café is in ‘the valley’ about 30 mins drive from Perth CBD.  Some of its neighbours are wineries, chocolate factories and farms.  Run by Julie (a naturopath) and Charlotte (a Bowen therapist) the café exudes a quaint country charm. 

Greeted with a smile at the front counter when walking in, we’re given menus and a general direction of our table. Hubby and I made our way through the tea shop towards our seats.  It was a lovely sunny day, however appearances proved deceiving as it was quite chilly outside.  Pity, as the café has a beautiful garden area and live music to enjoy too.

Taking our seats indoors, we were served immediately by our friendly waitress, who brought us water without needing to be asked.  We ordered our mains and requested a fresh detox juice (moi) and Flower Blossom tea for drinks.  Curious name, I thought.

The tea in pre-bloom

The tea in pre-bloom

A blooming tea is a feast for the eyes and the taste buds.  It delivered an explosion of spectacular shades of green made from high-quality fresh green tea buds from the high mountains of Yunnan province in China.   Consisting of a bundle of dried tea leaves encasing a dried flower, the bundle expands and unfurls in a process that emulates a blooming flower when steeped.  The flowers inside emerge as the centrepiece.

Wow.  And here is the blooming tea at its full glorious height.

full bloom

full bloom

I slurped my detox juice up in a matter of seconds.  Delish.  No pic sorry!  It was a deep red hue due to the beetroot.

Our mains arrived simultaneously.  Being a chilly winter’s day, hubby opted for the Moussaka.  Not just any moussaka though.  Typically, traditional Greek moussaka is a coronary waiting to happen – lamb mince, cheese, béchamel sauce, potato, eggs and butter.  This was the vegan version.  It looked and smelled awesome….

Swan Valley Vegetarian Cafe vegan moussaka

Swan Valley Vegetarian Cafe vegan moussaka

Hubby gulped down a mouthful.  It tasted as good as it looked.  Big thumbs up.  Actually, an even bigger thumbs up as this is coming from a non-vegan!  Meanwhile, I looked down at my chosen main, Raw Marinated Mushrooms with a Sunflower Seed Pate.  I’d been addicted to sunflower seed pate since devouring the sun-dried tomato version at home.  Again, the presentation was impeccable.

Raw Marinated Mushrooms with Sunflower Seed Pate

Raw Marinated Mushrooms with Sunflower Seed Pate

We both wished we had several stomachs so we could try everything on the menu.  Alas, another day another time.  With our plates scraped clean, we turned our attention to dessert.  There was quite a variety of both raw, cooked, vegan and gluten-free sweet nothings to cap off a, so far, faultless dining experience.

Staying true to my raw roots, I chose the cinnamon maca slice and hubby went for a choc beetroot vegan cake.  I also ordered a mocha with oat milk.  I was curious about the desserts and coffee, as on previous occasions they were less than stellar.

best buds: beetroot + cacao

best buds: beetroot + cacao

raw cinnamon + maca slice

raw cinnamon + maca slice

Ohhh, so glad I saved room for dessert… and the mocha was excellent too.  Hot, thick and frothy.. just the way I like it.

From a year ago, this humble establishment has made leaps and bounds forward.  The presentation, quality and service has drastically improved.  Combined with their seamless amalgamation of nutrition, healing, overall health and well-being – this is one place to definitely mark on the map.  It’s proven to be a haven for the like-minded.  There are various events on the calendar such as pilates, tarot reading and educational seminars.  Another big tick – the café makes donations to the Greener Pastures Sanctuary in Waroona, Lighthouse Foundation and other animal-friendly charities too.

Satiated and happy, we said good-bye and are looking forward to our next visit.  I’m glad there’s an establishment like this in the Valley area.  Often, I hesitate on making the 30 min drive out as inevitably after winery-hopping and general roaming around hunger will beckon.  There is rarely anything on offer that suits my chosen lifestyle.  Until now!

Further notes on Swan Valley Vegetarian Café:

They’re actually licensed and offer a selection of vegan, organic & bio-dynamic wines (some from ‘The Valley’), as well as a range of gluten-free beers.  Whether its breakfast, lunch, brunch, high tea, special functions or catering, it’s pretty likely you’ll be well taken care of.

The tea store stocks their own range of herbal teas ‘Valley Tea’, with herbal blends specially formulated to benefit the body’s systems (brews include Slumber, Winter Blues, Adrenal Detox, Stressless, Purify, Inflammation Tea, Dieter’s Tea, as well as old favourites such as Irish Breakfast et al and much much more), Rooibos varieties and organic Green teas with hints of organic orange peel, lemon grass, lavender etc.  There’s Chinese white tea, Jasmine tea and of course the blooming teas – which I thoroughly enjoyed during this visit!  Check out Valley Tea for more info.

Besides tea, other drool-worthy items in store are Yummy Crunchy Granola, Organic Quinoa, Organic Coconut Sugar, Agave, Cacao, Organic Hulled Hemp Seeds, and Loving Earth Drinking Chocolate.  You’ll have to see the range for yourself.

Let me know what you guys think of this place!

Hope you all had a lovely weekend.

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.

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