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.

Rice-a-RAWma IV: Moroccan Cauliflower Couscous

We travelled to Morocco a few years back and I remember feeling like I stepped back in time.  In the medina we visited in Fez, there were no cars.  The local mode of transportation was bicycle, donkey or your own two feet.  Meshing with the locals adorned in sandals and flowy kaftans, at each turn there were spice stalls, snake charmers, tagine makers, Kobhz bakers or shisha smokers.   The passageways were narrow with walls built high.  There were levels upon levels of private residences and shop fronts.  There was constant movement and noise – gypsies begging for money, prayers being chanted in a mosque, children playing, bells ringing, chicken squawking.  It was sensory overload and an unforgettable experience.

Marrakesh Night Market

Marrakesh Night Market

I recall my fail safe meal in Morocco being couscous (ok, so technically not rice but it’s pretty darn close).  Guaranteed vegan, available anywhere and consistently good – from market stalls, coffee shops to high-end restaurants.   Revered as a national dish, I never had a crappy couscous experience.

I had couscous with raisins instead of prunes, but I was all out this time.  Prunes work just as good!

raw cauliflower couscous

raw cauliflower couscous

 

Raw Moroccan Cauliflower Couscous

1 small head cauliflower, roughly chopped
1 cup almonds
2 tbs ground coriander
1 tbs curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1/3 c prunes, roughly chopped
handful of diced onion
pinch cayenne pepper
sprinkling of dried mint leaves
sea salt, to taste

Blitz cauliflower and almonds in a food processor until it resembles rice.

Transfer to a bowl and mix in the rest of the ingredients.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

All I can say is.. YUM!  Something different from the usual raw cauliflower rice.

Wonder what raw rice recipe I should try next – any ideas?

Hope you’re all having a good week so far 🙂

5-minute Asian-inspired Coleslaw

Can barely muster up the energy to change the TV channel, let alone make yourself something to eat?

Enter one of the easiest ‘no brainer’ dishes ever.

I usually make a large batch and I’ve got lunch for the next few days.  Winner with hubby’s taste buds too.  For those interested, see this previous post regarding the nutritional benefits of cabbage, and especially its anti-aging properties.

Refreshingly light, this version skips the heavy processed mayo characteristic of traditional coleslaw.  If you’re not a fan of garlic omit one clove.

Sesame Seed ‘Slaw

1 cup shredded purple cabbage
1 cup shredded green cabbage
1 grated carrot
handful diced onion
lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 diced tomato
1 tsp sea salt
olive oil
apple cider vinegar
sesame seeds

Mix everything together in a large bowl.  Let the flavours develop for at least 10 minutes.  Adjust seasonings if necessary.

The colours in this dish make it appetizing to both the eyes and the tummy 🙂

To add more ‘bulk’ and turn this side dish into a complete meal, top with slices of avocado or throw in a mugful of sprouted chickpeas, buckwheat or quinoa for added protein.

Bahhh… Mondays.  Where did the weekend go?  Hope you survived yours in good nick.

rainbow coleslaw

rainbow coleslaw