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

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The Dairy Debacle + 4 vegan alternatives

One of the most successful cons out there is that dairy does a body good.

I used to consume copious amounts of it, mistakenly believing I was preventing osteoporosis in later life, that it was good for my overall health.

Dairy products are marketed as high calcium foods that assist in strengthening bones.

However the most ideal foods for bone health are foods that are not only high in calcium, but reduce calcium loss in the body.  Namely… fruit and veg.  Fruit and veg also contain boron, which assists in reducing calcium loss.

Dairy is an acidic food, along with meat, white flour and sugar.  Studies show consumption of an acid-producing diet will lead to four times more bone fractures.

Acidic foods age and degenerate your skin.  Eeps!  Those expensive miracle creams are wasted if your diet is highly acidic.

Have you ever wondered when you’re feeling under the weather, why the doc tells you to up your liquids (clear soups, herbal teas, water) and steer clear of dairy?

Two reasons.

In order for our bodies to digest lactose (lactose is the sugar found in dairy), we need an enzyme called lactase.  From when we are 18 months to 4 years old, up to 95% of this enzyme is lost.  So put the pieces of the puzzle together.

Undigested lactose + acidic nature of milk = breeding ground for intestinal bad bacteria = higher cancer risk

Dairy products produce mucus, and the body’s natural self-defense mechanism is to develop a cold or an ‘allergy’.

Dairy does not deter osteoporosis.  Its high protein content leaches calcium from the body by sucking calcium sources from the bones to balance the pH in our blood.  Foods even lower in calcium such as meat and eggs cause even greater losses.  This explains why blood tests show you have adequate amounts of calcium if your diet is based around dairy and meat.  It is no coincidence the countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis (USA, Sweden, Finland) are the biggest consumers of meat, milk and other animal foods.

A host of other problems have been linked to the consumption of dairy: acne, anaemia, anxiety, arthritis, ADHD, autism, cancers of the breast, prostate and ovaries, fibromyglia, heartburn, indigestion, IBS, joint pain, colic, obesity, heart disease, diabetes and Crohn’s disease.

It’s not all doom or gloom though, folks.  The good news is there are plenty of alternatives.  It’s all about substitution!

DAIRY ALTERNATIVES

I thought I would feel deprived until I discovered the joys of milk alternatives such as almond milk, cashew milk, hazelnut milk, oat milk… even mung bean milk!  Same story with cream and condensed milk – swap over to coconut, nut or tofu based substitutes.

When it comes to yogurt, I am about to experiment with making my own.  If you can’t be bothered then COYO is delish, found in many health food stores and some IGAs.

Cheese – There are plenty of ready-made alternatives out there whether you want.  Brands such as Notzarella, Vegusto and Tofutti are pretty tasty.

As for icecream, buy sorbet or get creative by making your own.  There’s so many recipes out there, with most of them being comprised of some sort of non-dairy milk, tofu, or frozen bananas.  Coco Luscious makes a range of ready-made non-dairy ice creams which are *to die for*

Below are some tried and tested recipes for dairy alternatives.

Basic Almond Milk

1 c raw almonds (soaked overnight in filtered water)
3 c filtered water
optional: agave or stevia, vanilla extract, cinnamon

Discard soaking water and rinse nuts.  Place nuts in blender and add filtered water.  Blitz until smooth.  Add sweetener to taste (optional).

Place a bowl on kitchen counter.  Slowly pour milk into a nut milk bag and catch liquid in bowl.  Squeeze nut milk bag gently until no liquid remains.  What’s leftover in the bag is almond meal you can use for crackers, cakes, cookies, replacing flour etc.  Leftover almond meal can be frozen for later use.

homemade almond milk

homemade almond milk

Pour strained milk into glass mason jars and store in the fridge.  Keeps for 3-4 days.

Tip:  A favourite of mine is using hazelnuts.  Smells rich and chocolatey.  Add cacao powder and 1 tsp vanilla essence to make chocolate milk.

Raw Cashew Cheeze

1 1/2 cups raw cashews (soaked)
1/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons water
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice or vinegar
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
freshly ground pepper
Drain nuts and place them food processor or blender. Add 1/4 cup water and the rest of the ingredients, and mix until thoroughly puréed, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl every so often.

Add a little more water if necessary and blend again to adjust the consistency; the cheese will get a little more solid as it sets.

Transfer to a bowl, cover, and let stand somewhere cool for 24 hours before placing in the fridge, keeps for 5 days.

Rawmesan (Parmesan alternative)

1 cup almonds
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
sea salt

Blitz almonds in food processor until crumbly and resembling grated parmesan.  Add in nutritional yeast and sea salt to taste.

Sprinkle on top of pastas, pizza, salads…  Refrigerate unused rawmesan in airtight container.

Raw Pistachio Icecream

1 ripe avocado
4 chopped frozen ripe bananas
2 tablespoons agave
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch salt
1/4 cup pistachios

Throw everything in a food processor with the ‘S’ blade.  Process until smooth.  Scoff!

Happy experimenting 🙂