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.

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Geoff P: Vegan Snag Royalty

This profile is of a man who, along with his partner Ramona, greatly supported me in making the transition.  An engineer by trade, Geoff worked in Japan and is now happily settled in Perth.  You can find Geoff at most vegan events, just look for the long line of hungry customers at his Vegan Hot Dog stand!

geoff and ramona

geoff and ramona

The Basics:

Geoff Pape, 37, plenty of fur kids, Offshore Rig Mechanic, volunteer engineer for Sea Shepherd, volunteer for PAWS (built a vegan catering van for them).

Your journey to vegetarianism / veganism:

I gradually went vegetarian with the help of my partner Ramona Janssen.  I was vegetarian for 10 years, during which time I met other vegans like Craig Dearth, through his Vegans Unite Perth group.  Even then I had not gone vegan, although it was starting to make sense.  I was involved with PAWS in Perth and bought a copy of Earthlings, because I heard it was a good film to see.  I watched that and declared to go vegan.  I no longer wanted to be a part of any animal’s cruelty.  I have now been vegan about 7 years.

I had absolutely no difficulty transitioning from Vegetarian to Vegan.  Once the mental decision had been made it was easy.  And the food just got better. I discovered new things like nutritional yeast, how to culture vegan yogurt and I’m presently learning to make cultured vegan cheese.  I found a recipe for the best vegan sausage ever.  I use these sausages to get the  message across to those people who should be vegan, the animal charities of Perth who do meat sausage sizzles to raise money for animals.

Other good films are the Youtube video of Gary Yourofsky’s Speech “The Best Speech You Will Ever Hear”, documentaries “Got The Facts About Milk”, “Peaceable Kingdom”, “The Cove”,  “Earthlings”, the movie “Bold Native” book called “Animal Experimentation A Harvest Of Shame” by Moneim A. Fadali.

Some friends I have left behind as I have made compassionate changes to my lifestyle and they choose not to.  Family has always been a struggle.  They watch the documentaries (Earthlings etc) but still can’t connect, or refuse to connect may be more to the fact.  It is a big disappointment for sure.  Especially when I see other vegan’s families changing after being exposed to a vegan lifestyle.

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

Physically better because without dairy my mucus production is less.  It really affects my sinuses.  I no longer get the bad stomach cramps that I used to get as a child.  But mentally I’m way better off.  All the guilt is gone.  I am lighter, both mentally and physically.

A typical day’s meals:

Fresh Juice/Smoothie, marinated tofu burgers with heaps of fresh veges, and organic soy mayonnaise.  Black bean vege stir fries, fresh salads, pastas, pizzas.  The list is really endless!

Favourite no-fail recipe:

Spicy vegan sausages – check it out here.

Biggest challenges / obstacles of being vegan:

Trying to get my family to go vegan, or at least vegetarian.  Sometimes it can take a lot longer to find somewhere to eat when out and about.  The Happycow app certainly make things easier when travelling.

Advice to newbie vegans:

Join a local Vegan meet up group, you’ll make great friends and get tried and tested recipes.   Get the Happycow app for travelling.  Ask lots of questions from long time vegans, they are always willing to help.  Join vegan fb pages, you’ll get lots of info and advice.

Biggest misconception about vegans:

We’re weakling freaks with low iron levels and no protein.  So not true:)  And people think we are limited in our choice of food.

Cruelty Free Festival 2012

Cruelty Free Festival 2012

Top 10 Vegan FAQs: Common Myths and Answers

veg·an  /ˈvēgən/ (Noun) A person who does not eat or use animal products.

I was having a conversation with a woman on my lunch break when she queried what icecream brand I preferred – Sara Lee or Browne’s.  I smiled and said I was vegan so I didn’t eat either.  Her facial expression evolved to one uncannily similar to that of a stunned mullet if I ever saw one.  It was as if she just witnessed an immaculate conception.  I checked to see if I had inadvertently grown horns on my head.  I hadn’t.  I glanced around.  There were no aliens behind me either.

“Wow! Vegan! That’s pretty extreme, it must be so hard!”

“Umm, no, not really.” I answered. “I eat icecream – it’s just made from nuts, tofu or coconuts – not animals.”

What invariably follows is the usual barrage of questions and well-meaning comments that I’m often subjected to.  I must say at times I liken it to being subjected to the Spanish inquisition!  People are curious creatures.  I’ve noticed regardless who is asking the questions, there are common themes which arise time and time again.

So drawing from my experience, here’s a standard set of Vegan FAQ’s for carnivores, omnivores, vegos, vegans and everyone in between!

Question 1: Where do you get your protein?

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked this question, I could buy a wardrobe-full of pieces from the (vegan) Stella McCartney collection!

Hats off to the meat and dairy industry: I covered this in a previous post.  They are indeed fantastic marketers.  There’s a widespread fear among the majority of the population they’re not consuming sufficient protein.  We’re led to believe our protein shortfall will inevitably result in weight gain, hunger or muscle loss.  Cue panic and mass hysteria.

It is simply not true. Plants have protein, people.  Kale for instance, has more protein than red meat.  As do many other vegetables.  There is abundant protein from non-animal sources – you just gotta know where to find it.  Grains, legumes and pulses are all protein-rich.  For instance, many of the foods on this link are ones I regularly consume.  Google not only the protein but nutritional content of some staple vegan foods such as buckwheat, quinoa, blackbeans, chickpeas (I could go on forever) – you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

mccartney collection advertisement "stella <3 bambi"

mccartney collection advertisement

Question 2: Our predecessors ate animals, isn’t it natural to eat them?

Yes, cavemen did eat animals.  They also lived in caves and ate their own poop in desperate times.  That was eons ago and they had no choice, if they did not eat meat they would die.  For them, it was a matter of survival not of personal taste.  Our predecessors were true hunter gatherers, like any other species in prehistoric times.  They did not wander down to the nearest Woolie’s and pick up a kilo of chops.  Did you know out of the billions of species on the planet, we are the only one that eats cooked meat?

Alright, let’s see you hunt a la naturale.  Go fashion a spear out of wood, stake out your prey, run after it (using your legs not a car!), hunt it down, use your bare hands and teeth to rip into raw flesh.  Natural enough for you?  I don’t believe we are natural carnivores.  We can thrive just as well, if not better, on a plant-based diet.

Low and behold, we have evolved.  We can make choices in food consumption now.  Choices that no longer impact whether or not we survive.  We’re living in a different time, spoiled with a plethora of plant-based foods.

Question 3:  Why the emphasis on not killing animals, plants are also living beings?

Do plants feel pain? I am not aware of any research that confirms this.  We know animals feel pain and suffering, much like humans.  The central nervous system signals to the brain when pain is felt.  How would you explain the tears that fall when a mother cow is separated from her calf at a dairy farm?  All animals, not just those commonly slaughtered for food (cows, chickens, fish) feel pain.

Let’s simplify.  Think of spearing a whale.  Compare that to trimming a hedge.  Which would you rather do?  If ground-breaking findings support plants can actually feel pain, a vegan diet still causes less suffering.  Animals require feed.  By eating animal products, you are creating the demand for the slaughtering of animals.  The result is you’d be killing both the plants (feed for the livestock) and the animals.  A Western meat-heavy diet kills more plants than an exclusively plant-based diet due to the land and feed required to raise livestock.

Question 4:  What’s the environmental benefit of following a vegan diet?

This arguments expands on Question 3.  Global meat production has increased rapidly in the past half century, partly attributed to the meat-centric eating habits of the burgeoning Chinese and Indian middle class.  This equates to global warming, pollution, topsoil erosion, water scarcity and potentially endangering many species – more animals means more crops are required to feed them.  The earth cannot cope with a simultaneously increasing farm animal and human population.  A vegan diet requires only 1/3 of the land of a conventional diet.

Question 5: So what do you eat?

Definitely not just carrot sticks and lettuce leaves.  My answer is “everything you eat”.  A little substitution of ingredients, and you can veganise any recipe your heart desires.  People are of the mindset veganism is this limiting, extreme lifestyle which pigeonholes you into consuming only fruit and veg.  But it’s not just fruit and veg.  There’s an extended family of vegan foods such as buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth, tempeh, seitan, polenta, couscous, tofu, millet to name a few.  Check out your local health food store and the array is mindboggling.

It’s not a boxed in, exclusive diet.  Educate yourself, start experimenting and asking questions.  You’ll be surprised at what you can create in your kitchen.

Question 6: I can’t afford a vegan diet.

Says who?  It’s the poor man’s diet!  The cheapest staple items are vegan.  Compare dried beans at $4/kg vs red meat $15/kg.  Pasta, rice and bread are easy on the wallet too.  Cook up a kilo of beans and you’ve got lunch for 2 adults for the next five days.  Cook up a kilo of meat?  You’ve got one meal for two people.

The higher end of the price spectrum are ‘superfoods’, gourmet cheeses, yoghurts and icecreams.  These are special occasion foods anyway.  Solution?  Make your own.  Yes, chia seeds may be $20/kg, but you only need 1 tablespoon a day.  It lasts for months.  Ditto for items such as maca powder, wheatgrass powder, spirulina et al… a little goes a long way.

As I said before, we now have the opportunity to choose what we put in our mouths, without fear we’ll become extinct.  Healthy veganism is about prevention, not cure.  Jamie Oliver loves to bring attention to the fact that homicide accounts for 0.8% of deaths, whereas diet-related disease is a whopping 60%.

Spend more on fruit, veg and other good stuff for you now and avoid ridiculous medical and surgery bills down the track.  Perhaps even eliminate the need for facelifts or expensive face creams and lotions?  Sign me up!

jamie oliver aka naked chef

jamie oliver aka naked chef

Question 7: I’m quite the athlete / fitness fanatic. Wouldn’t I faint from hunger / not be able to perform on vegan foods?

Hmmm, tell that to Mac Danzig, Carl Lewis, Scott Jurek, Steph Davis, Martina Navratilova, Robert Parish, Dave Scott, Alexander Dargatz to name a few.  Google vegan athletes and you’ll come up with a list of ultra-sports people from wrestling, running, MMA, bodybuilding and many sports in between.  Muscle can be built from plant-sourced protein, even better than animal protein.  Why?  Plants are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals yet have no saturated fats or cholesterol.

Mac Danzig

Mac Danzig

Question 8: What about travelling overseas?  It’s hard enough being vegan at home.

Happycow website.  Happycow app.  Lifesavers.

Preorder your meals before you fly.  All airlines have vegan menus available.  No-brainer.  I pack nuts, fruit, snack bars or bliss balls in my travel backpack. Also there are travel-size vegan essentials in some healthfood stores such as squeezable coconut oil and sachets of chia seed.  Although more pricey and not as good as fresh, supplements (vitamins, minerals, probiotics, green powders) do come in handy when you don’t have access to appliances and a kitchen.

Do some googling – some of our best experiences have been visiting the local farmers markets!  Good thing to know where your local supermarket or healthfood store is, and map out how to get there from your hotel too.  Learn from my experience:  note the opening hours.  We trekked all around Lyon in the freezing snow looking for this “must-see” specialty food co-op… we arrived nearly 2 hours later – only to find it closed early in winter.

I’ve never visited a restaurant that did not have a veg only dish.  And if for some reason they don’t, I’m sure they will be willing to create one for you.  I recall being in Spain and there were no vegan dishes on the menu.  I asked for a dish identical to the one hubby ordered, but asked for the meat to be excluded and doubled the veg instead.  They were more than happy to accommodate.  Most mainstream restaurants have vegan options, such as seasonal vegies or house salad.

Little-known vegan haunts are everywhere.  We love stumbling upon vegan treasures the world over.  It’s part of the fun and makes for priceless memories.

happycow.net

happycow.net

Question 9: If a vegan diet is supposed to be so healthy, how come I got sick on it?

Bizarre.  Many people report being healthier on a vegan diet, even eliminating various allergies, ailments and diseases that plagued them for years.  Any diet lacking a variety of vitamins and minerals can be unhealthy and deficient, not just a vegan one.  So focus on nutritional content this time round.  Perhaps you felt unwell not because it was a vegan diet, but rather it was an unbalanced one.  There’s plenty of information out there on what constitutes a well-balanced vegan diet.  Read up on it, speak to other vegans and by all means ask questions!

Question 10: How extreme are you?  Do you wear plastic shoes, roam around on a pushbike, have a penchant for tie dye and pay no attention whatsoever to personal grooming?

Many people mistake ‘vegan’ as a codeword for “tree-hugging hippie with generous lashings of patchouli”.

They come in all shapes and sizes, undiscriminating against race, sex, age or gender.

One well-known vegan is Anne Hathaway, of Les Miserables fame.  She famously insisted the Tom Ford gladiator heels she wore to the red carpet premiere were to be remade in faux leather (she also wore custom-made vegan shoes in the film).  Other celeb vegans are Drew Barrymore, Woody Harrellson, Stella McCartney, Russell Brand and Ellen DeGeneres & Portia de Rossi to name a few.

Everyone is at different stages and makes their own personal choices.  I wish vegan shoes / cosmetics / skincare / vegan-anything really was more affordable.  Who doesn’t!  And yeah, I can understand (and have felt) how difficult it is to fork out three times as much for the vegan option compared to the mainstream option.

Some vegans dedicate their efforts to eliminating animal foods and animal by-products from their diet, others embrace the vegan lifestyle through their homewares and furniture choices, some through deciding what charities to support.  It’s a full-time job being 110% vegan 24/7, as so many products contain eggs and other animal sources, even beer and wine!  We are limited by our available resources (time, money) and do the best we can with what we have.

No matter where you are on your journey, every little bit helps.

“We do not inherit the planet from our parents, instead we hold it in kind for our grandchildren.”

I absolutely love the quote below from a man I profiled in a previous post.  It really sums up what veganism is all about – so compelling on so many fronts.

“I learned there wasn’t just my one reason for being a vegetarian or veganspiritual, there were several others: ethical (animal rights), economic (it was cheaper), ecological (less polluting and better for biosphere), health (many factors), and aesthetic (wasn’t it more beautiful?)”  Warren G

What about you?  Why did you choose to follow a vegan lifestyle?  Or what’s holding you back from it?

Warren G: A scholarly take on veganism

This is a profile of a man who now calls Fremantle home, after living in cities such as New Orleans, New York, Minneapolis, Melbourne, Townsville and Perth.  He has been vegan since 1974, and is who I’d classify as being extremely advanced in the kitchen and more knowledgeable still about all things veganism.

I’ve sampled many of his delectable creations, such as whipped cashew and pear dip, chia guacamole, cauliflower ‘rice’, sprouted quinoa salad and was even given an impromptu ‘Sprouting for Dummies’ crash course.

His fascinating and detailed story spans over 5o years.

The Basics:
A 63 yo, New Orleans-born Cornell University-graduate, Warren Gossett is the son of a pharmacist and school teacher.  He was a computer programmer for the University of WA prior to retiring in 2005, and still occasionally tutors primary school and first year university students.  He spends his time engaging in the private study of  whatever interests him: mathematics, chemistry, physics, music, dancing, history.

Warren had a typical American diet up until he was 16.  This was highly processed fare such as hot dogs, bacon and eggs, Kellogg’s Cheerios and Wheaties, fried chicken, ice cream, buttered corn, fairy floss, lemon meringue pie, and Whitman’s sampler chocolates.

Vego since: 1966
Why go veg?
A mystical experience in August 1963.  I read a public library book which talked about the selfishness of killing animals and the karma it created.  I first read the word vegetarian.  I finally applied the idea to myself in 1966 when I finished high school, moved away from home and could start choosing my own food easily.  Except for about five months in 1972-73 when I decided to accept a girl friend’s diet I have been a vegetarian or vegan ever since.

Note that I started out as a vegetarian for what could be called spiritual reasons.  I knew nothing of the other reasons for being a vegetarian and I had never heard the word vegan during this college phase (1966 – 1972).

I was a summer hippie in California 1967 and 1968 and had brown rice and macrobiotic food the first time.  Now of course I avoid alcohol or drugs.

I came across a book call Dweller of Two Planets by Phylos the Thibetan (Frederick S Oliver).  It turned out to be a fascinating explosion of mystical philosophy from 1899 California.  It suggested a beautiful path that we followed through this life and many lives because reincarnation was central to the book.  I was in!  There were mentions of the value of studying vegetarianism, astrology and numerology as well as science.  I did so over the years.  The reason given for vegetarianism was that it was selfish to kill animals and the karma it created was bad.  You couldn’t compensate the soul of an animal for the loss of its life experiences. Compensating a plant soul was possible or at least more possible.

This has remained a key part of my philosophy and mystical view of life over the last fifty years.

Vegan since: 1974
Why the next step?
When looking for a new house to share I met potential housemates.  One was a vegan and gave me two books when we met, along with  with another guy, to consider the house-share possibilities.  We never lived together nor met again but this meeting had a lasting influence on me.  The last things for me to give up was goat cheese and choc chip cookies.

I was especially influenced by Viktoras Pisces Kulvinskas’ second book in 1976, Survival into the 21st Century.  I learned about and tried fasting, sprouting alfalfa, mung beans, fenugreek and sunflower seeds.  He mentioned exotic things like wild food, unfired food, fruitarianism and breatharianism and the Aquarian diet.  Now instead of Kulvinskas’ term unfired food we usually say raw food.

At the 1978 North American Vegan Society convention in rural Pennsylvania I learned about sprouting, factory farming, vegetarians in sports and first heard of a group called Sea Shepherd.

“I learned there wasn’t just my one reason for being a vegetarian or vegan, spiritual, there were several others: ethical (animal rights), economic (it was cheaper), ecological (less polluting and better for biosphere), health (many factors), and aesthetic (wasn’t it more beautiful?)”

the effervescent Mr G

the effervescent Mr G

Influences: The books were Love Your Body by Viktoras Pisces Kulvinskas and Mother Nature’s Guide for Folks Who Like to Eat by Dick Gregory.  The arguments in the books convinced me that I didn’t need to eat dairy products and that the dairy industry was harmful in several ways.  I had already given up eggs because of boredom, concern about cholesterol… plus I had too many of them in college.

Philosophy: Still oriented to mysticism and science.

A typical day’s meals:  My diet is easy to arrange.  I just go to Coles, Woolworth’s or occasionally Manna Wholefoods, Peaches or Kakulas Sisters and get vegan things.

Idiot-proof meal?  I like organic pasta and black eye peas, they’re my fail safe meals.  I also like rice, potatoes and pumpkin.  I’ve discovered that celery is very versatile:  It lasts well in the fridge and can be consumed raw, cooked for 20 minutes or juiced.

 “I moved to Australia in 1980 to eventually work as a computer programmer.   Some people in Minneapolis had thought Australians drank a lot and ate a lot of meat so how would I fit in.  My mother assumed it was part of my travelling phase and I’d be back in six months. But I knew it was a warm country with lots of fruits and vegetables.  I had enjoyed the two week holiday in New Zealand and Australia I took earlier that year for my 30th birthday.”

Warren’s Whipped Cashew Dip

Ingredients:
1 cup raw cashews (soaked for 30mins)
2 pears (goldrush)
optional: vanilla extract, lemon juice, agave / stevia (to taste)
Throw away soaking water from cashews.  Peel and core the pears.
Blend in a food processor until smooth (about 3 minutes).
Taste – add optional ingredients if your tastebuds want and blend again.
Add filtered water if you like a thinner dip.

Serve with vege crudites, crackers or toasted bread.

Le premier blog post: from routine to raw

Le premier means “the first” in French.

After frequent prods over the year by my husband, close friends and newly-met acquaintances to start a blog… I have finally taken the plunge and dived in.

So yes, hopefully this is the first of many upcoming posts by moi.

I’ve always had an uncanny preference for raw or very slightly cooked food.

Even when I was in single digit years, I recall liking soup at room temperature and other traditionally hot dishes such as pasta and toasted sandwiches chilled!  It has only been in the past few years that I discovered this preference of mine is actually quite a widespread food philosophy often called the “raw food movement”.

I’ve read several books on the subject and won’t go into the health benefits here.  But I’ve met a few people who healed themselves of various diseases and ailments such as arthritis, diabetes, cancer, tumours to name a few.

Vegetarian since I was 15, transitioned to vegan for a while now, and consuming about 80% raw – I’m feeling great!  The choice to stop eating meat came unexpectedly and abruptly.  One day I was eating a burger, looked down at it half-eaten and felt thoroughly disgusted by it.  And myself.  What had become my favourite go-to meal since childhood now repulsed me.  I threw it away half-eaten and have never looked back.  Just like that.  So yes, a very rapid conscious decision.  What can I say, I’m known to never do things by halves.

I come from a family that eats anything and everything (from turtle soup, sheep balls, frog legs, chicken gizzards and everything in between!) whether it be breakfast, lunch or supper, you can be sure at least one dish has parts of animal in it.  Needless to say, they continue with their eating habits while I have mine.  For many years they couldn’t understand why I no longer ate meat, and did their best to offer me traditional Asian delicacies such as BBQ pork, sizzling beef or crispy skin chicken.  I did not waver and several years later… they have accepted it and are sure to order more veg, tofu and tempeh dishes when we dine out.  Hurrah.  Only took half a decade.  LOL.

Anyway, just last week I brought some home-made cookies to a potluck dinner at a friend’s house.. and again to a raw food picnic.  It was gobbled up by all, and the recipe was requested by many so here it is.  I luuuuuuuuurrrrveeeeeee my desserts, however a little sweetness goes a long way for me so if you find you need it, add 2 tbs agave or stevia.

Raw Oat ‘n’ Fruit Cookies
 
2 cups rolled oats
2 cups chopped dried apricots
1/2 c chopped prunes
1 c dessicated or shredded coconut
1 grated apple (I used green granny smith)
3-4 tbspn coconut oil (to bind)
1-2 tbs lemon zest (you can add more if you prefer)
1 tsp vanilla essence
pinch of sea salt
 
Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until well combined and a rough ‘dough’ is formed.  Taste.  Tweak flavours to suit  your palate.
 
Using your hands, shape into balls and press down to form a cookie shape.  You can also shape into bars.. kinda like a muesli bar.
 
That’s it!  You can even dip half the cookie in melted raw chocolate and let it cool.
 
I don’t have a dehydrator, so I set the cookie at room temperature for a few hours somewhere warm or in sunlight, then put it in the fridge.
Lasts for 4-5 days in the fridge.  Freezes well.
Till next time!
F

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