Raw in Southwestern Pennylvania
I was thinking of going to Good Eatz last night for dinner, so I decided to look at their online menu. After seeing very little vegan options and NO raw options, I called the restaurant. The first girl I talked to on the phone had mentioned that they had a few raw options and transferred me to a chef. The chef said the only thing they could offer was a salad. I looked at the prices and I wasn't too enthusiastic about paying fifteen dollars for a salad. So my friend and I went to Raw Can Roll again. :) I had facebooked the cafe the night before when I was writing up my review and had found the owner, Sheryl Chavarria. I let her know that I had reviewed them and hoped she had the chance to read it. Well, we walked into Raw Can Roll Cafe and I was excited to see her behind the counter. I let her know that Good Eatz was out and that Raw Can Roll was in and she practically squealed, "You're the one from Facebook! Can I give you a hug?!"
Instant friendship, gotta love it. We must have talked about Raw, Raw business, food, and family for twenty minutes before I realized that I had come there to eat. :) So I ordered the Olive Burger with Onion Bread, the side salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing, and the Tamari marinated mushrooms and onion. Wow! I love that I've eaten there twice and LOVE it every time. I'm usually very critical about raw food, too, since I have such a huge ego and think I can do it all myself better. ;) But I was very satisfied (I licked my plate clean) with my meal. My friend spent too much time on his phone and I helped myself to his meal as well. ;) He had the Mediterranean Sampler, which was Tabouleh and Hummus with Onion Bread, a side salad as well and he had the Jicama Potato Salad. The jicama was chopped much smaller this time and I completely polished off his 'potato' salad. Yum! I do believe I will start making that myself. So I've had three out of four of the entrees, three out of four of the sides, three out of four of the appetizers, two smoothies and their lemonade. Everything I have had was incredible! I wholeheartedly endorse their tostadas, which have by far been my favorite meal. If you go to Raw Can Roll, which if you are in the area you gotta check out, try their tostadas! And their lemonade! I haven't had a really good raw lemonade until now. I'd go back just for that. (Hover over the photos with your mouse to see their captions)
I'm visiting family up in the Poconos now, so I'm not near the cafe to enjoy its scrumptious food, but I might have to make a stop again when I'm back in the area in a week. Thank GOD this Cafe is not near my apartment in Phoenix...I would spend WAY too much money there (just by going all the time....it's still ridiculously cheap!). Well, I take that back. If this Cafe was near my home, I'd end up working there. ;) Sheryl was so encouraging about starting my own cafe. The idea suddenly has merit.
Before I left my house, even before dinner, I made myself a liter of Green Smoothie (Butter Lettuce, Peach, and Banana) for the rest of the evening. My friend, B.J. Ellis, is the executive director of the N Crowd Improv Comedy Troupe in Philadelphia. I've been itching to go see it for years and finally had the chance last night! :) The smoothie was a wonderful addition, not only when I started to get hungry during the show (it's so wonderfully discreet), but also afterward when everyone went out for food and drinks. I don't drink personally, but that isn't a raw issue, it's an alcohol one. ;) But I was still able to cheer everyone around me and not be tempted by all the greasy food with my full fledged meal in a bottle. Nutritious, delicious, crave-busting meal!
The show was hilarious and I recommend it for ANYONE looking for something to do in Philly. If you have ever seen "Who's Line Is It Anyway" on tv, that's pretty much what it is. It's comedic acting with audience participation...I cried a few times from laughing so hard. I also love the interaction, the ability to shout something out and watch it unfold. After the show, I was honored to tag along while they all went out for some food and drinks afterwards, and that's where the real comedy took place. I think I might have peed myself a little while listening to them banter back and forth unscripted. Many laughs ensued and the night ended perfectly. Again, that's the N Crowd, The Actor's Center, 257 N. 3rd StreetPhiladelphia, PA, 19106. You can visit them and order tickets online at www.phillyncrowd.com. For an evening out, it's priced perfectly at $10 a person.
Oh, one last thing...I was able to stop by Jim and Ralph’s Produce, which is in Collegeville if you are in the area. The produce is ridiculously fresh and inexpensive, even if it’s not organic. I was able to enjoy Weaver’s Orchard and all their incredible organic produce and great prices for a week and stopped by Jim and Ralph’s before I made my way up here to the Poconos. Now that I'm up here, I'll be scoping the place out...and I'll share all with you, no worries. ;)
I scheduled my vacation for two and a half weeks, which is the longest that I've ever been away from my kitchen. I know, that's a weird statement, but my kitchen is an extension of myself. Since I can't just go to the grocery store or any restaurant and get something, and need to make almost everything myself...my kitchen is my better half. ;) I wasn't sure I could go that long without all my things...so I brought them with!! I took my Vitamix blender and my Cuisinart food processor...not very travel friendly, but they fared well...whew! I'm not sure how I was able to stay under the weight requirement (the Lord was definitely watching over me), because I brought all my nuts and seeds too! Three pounds of almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, and garbanzo beans. When I arrived, I had realized I forgot my walnuts and was sad...but I've learned to improvise. Half a dozen spices, my cacao powder and nibs, and some kelp noodles also joined into one of my two checked bags. I also dehydrated for two weeks before my trips, since I couldn't also take my dehydrators. ;) I brought two types of crackers, two types of flat bread, granola, fruit leather, mini pizzas, 'croutons', and lots of handmade trail mix. I would have loved to have seen the x-ray techs checking my bag before it got on the plane. ;)
I've been here a week and my stash has diminished some, but I need to make sure I still have more for next week. This week I get to visit two raw restaurants, but there will be none where I'm going next week. I'm saving my kelp noodles and most of my granola for next week...fun meals to show off the raw lifestyle. I went to one raw restaurant in the area today and was pleasantly surprised. First, it was ALL raw (which is highly unusual outside a large city), and second, it was a small cafe that anyone could enjoy. I dined with my daughter, one friend who isn't raw at ALL, and another friend who makes healthy choices. They enjoyed it and I loved new, interesting foods that I didn't have to make. ;)
It was called RawCanRoll Cafe...cute name. To begin with, it's a cafe...not a restaurant, so it's small and cozy. Small menu, which I enjoyed. It was all very easy foods...things that I have moved beyond but still enjoy. Five entrees that come with one of four side dishes and a side salad with one of five dressings, you could also choose from four appe-teasers (hehe) and they had at least ten different smoothies to offer. Two different types of macaroons for dessert, which we sampled, of course, and four different types of salads. All in all, small, concise, and not much frufru.
I ordered the Tostada, which was a dehydrated tortilla with lettuce, mango salsa, small dehydrated mock pepperonis, and some wonderful southwestern sauce drizzled on top. It was wonderfully satisfying and delicious. I hoped my daughter would join in, but it was very messy and difficult to eat...she's finicky that way. ;) I chose the "potato" salad made with jicama and fresh dill. My daughter loved it, and I thought it was pretty good...I probably would have chopped the jicama smaller. My salad was greens, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, and apple slices and I picked their House Creamy Tahini Dressing. YUM! I almost licked my entire plate clean. That was another incredible thing, they use silverware, biodegradable plates and napkins, and green plastics (made from plants). I was super excited at how green they were. We finished off our dinner with a Love Potion #9 Smoothie (cacao, vanilla, bananas, and almond mylk) - which my daughter claimed as hers - and four Almond Coconut macaroons (two vanilla, two chocolate/cacao). I'm going to have to start making those macaroons...they were heavenly!!
All in all, it was a wonderful experience...and my friends say they will probably visit at least twice a month from now on. Now THAT is a great revelation of how good it was. One of my friends ordered the hummus sampler for an appetizer, which we all loved (especially my daughter), and i was proud to see them using sprouted sunflower seeds as a base. Hurrah! They both got the Thai Spring Rolls with a Ginger/Sesame dipping sauce. They enjoyed it and I got to finish some of it for them. ;) Very good, very simplistic and beautiful presentation. Not only was it delicious, but so ridiculously inexpensive. My meal was $8.50 (side and salad included!), my smoothie was $5.75 and my dessert was $3.00. Now that is cheaper than most restaurants, let alone a "healthy" one that usually charges more.
It's been three hours since that meal and I'm still stuffed. I tend to overdo it when I eat other people's raw food. ;) I'm hoping to stop by the place tomorow and drop off some business cards and talk to the chef. Honestly, the place is so simple! I could easily do all of the uncooking, most of it is morning prep and day before dehydrating...and then you have others assemble the meals. I was thoroughly encourgaed and am excited. MANY people have asked me to market my products or start a small cafe or something, and this is something I could easily do. I am currently working with a restaurant in the Phoenix area to start with a few classes and then possibly work with them to add things to their menu. Exciting!!!
Tomorrow I'm off to another restaurant called Good Eatz Green Cafe, which seems to be more of the same...but I've had a few recommendations for this one from NON VEGANS! It's not raw, but most everything can be "catered to your needs", so we'll see if they have much experience with a raw vegan. ;) In fact, I might call early and see if I can be accommodated. Their online menu is very impressive and definitely more expensive than the little raw cafe I visited today. I'm a simple girl, and I don't need much, so if they cannot make raw stuff...we may go back to RawCanRoll Cafe. :)
OH! I wanted to share something that I have been thoroughly enjoying that ANYONE can do. I love my lemon meringue pie...I'm pretty sure I've mentioned that. It's delicious, easy, and inexpensive...so I almost always have one piece a day. Well, I've discovered the fun of decorating my pies. It's an easy way to impress your friends and family or even yourself, and spruce up a boring dish. Here are some examples. Berries are easy, you can simply plop them right on without cutting, but I love several colors. I encourage all of you to start decorating and send me pictures of your creations!!! Whether it's a pie, or anything else...I love beautiful presentations! Reveal your creativity to me!
I love grocery shopping. I don't think it was always that way. I remember looking down each aisle, feeling a little overwhelmed with all the choices, especially unhealthy ones that I wanted to buy but knew were bad for me. I used to allow myself one night of the cheapest frozen pizza I could find. When it came to making something from scratch, it was almost always easier and cheaper to simply buy something pre-made...not to mention better tasting. So I lived out of boxes, cans, and the freezer.
What a difference to today! I LOVE grocery shopping now...finding out what's on sale, my brain already coming up with fun ideas to make with the produce that is on sale this week. And...most grocery stores only have one aisle I can go down...much simpler and stress-free. I don't cut coupons or worry...I very rarely go over my budget. And now that I've found price matching, why I have plenty to spare and buy specialty items (or just more organic produce!).
The fun thing about having one isle to shop down is that you get to see EVERYTHING in that isle very well. You learn quickly what greens your store has, if they have any organic produce and where they have tucked it away at. Most grocery stores have SUPER inflated prices for produce, and that is a topic for another day..don't get me started, but that's why I love price matching. You get the conventional produce that you really shouldn't get all year round but are essentials (i.e. bananas, pineapples, apples, etc) at very low prices. Like four pounds of bananas for a dollar. Woah. That's a lot of bananas....which I'll take, thank you very much. Anyway...back to the topic...which was?! Oh yes, discovering things in your grocery store.
I tend to frequent Asian markets for things like Young Thai Coconuts, Unroasted Seaweed, and other such lovelies. Well, this past visit had me peeking at every nook and cranny, even if I can't read most of the labels, the foods look so inviting. I found two fruits that I had never tried but had heard of: Lichees and Rambutans. They look crazy, which I love. The Rambutans are the spikey, hairy things that taste a little like grapes...very fun. The Lichees I bought were...not so good. But that's okay, you win some, you lose some. Other fun Asian fruits: Jackfruit, Durian, Cherimoyas...go take a look and take a risk! ;)
One of the perks of living in Phoenix is that the citrus here are literally falling off the trees into your lap. So, come October, November, December, I'll be loading up on Organic Oranges, Grapefruits, Lemons, Limes, and other wonderful things like Kumquats, Loquats, Anna Apples, Tangelos...it's wonderful. I'm actually planning on creating a little business of Gleaners...where we go around and help the elderly by harvesting their fruit for them (so it doesn't just fall off or rot ON the tree and create a nasty mess)...oh, and keeping the fruit for myself...and maybe even selling it! Man, do I get off topic...so the exciting thing is that people have fruit trees in their front yards, back yards, and most don't even notice it! I've seen persimmon trees, pomegranate trees, and peach trees that people aren't even aware they could harvest and eat the fruit because it's not usually sold in stores. Crazy! Well, this is fig season, which I adore. Have you ever had a fresh fig? A dried fig? Neither?! You are missing out!!! These are nature's candies...besides dates, that is. Oh, how I adore figs. I would write a poem or a haiku if I were into that (which sadly, I'm not...but feel free to do so if you are), but i can make a scrumptious creation and share it with you!!!
The woman who harvested her fig tree picked a LOT and gave them to me for FREE (score!), but asked me to make her some raw treat with them. So I came up with these cute little tarts: Fig/Blueberry/Cinnamon filling on an Almond/Date/Cinnamon Crust. Oh, so delicious. (I had the leftovers last night for dinner...just pudding. Yum!)
Lovely Raw Creations
I've been thoroughly enjoying myself in the kitchen lately. I've made some interesting sauces that lead to fun dishes: My friend was craving a Thai Peanut sauce, so we used cashews and made an interesting combination, which led to Thai Cabbage Wraps, and a Thai Cabbage Salad:
Next it was way too many onions in the CSA basket: voila...Onion bread!!! This would be an onion bread sandwich with avocado, ranch dressing, tomato, arugula, and more mung bean sprouts. YUM!
Ahhh, pizza. I thought I would miss you the most. Surprisingly...not so much. But now and then, I like a raw equivalent. I used to try to make large pizzas, but they get so messy and it's hard to get everything onto your fork, and blah blah blah...so now I make little pizza bites. Crust made into crackers, a cheese spread made with sunflower seeds and cashews, and an incredible marinara sauce that I got to use fresh basil in....absolutely heavenly. I used to enjoy Hawaiian Pizza...so now I throw on a pineapple slice for flavor and nutrition...and it tastes eerily similar to its cooked counterpart. :)
A couple weeks ago I was hosting a barbecue at my apartment complex's swimming pool after we baptized a few people. I knew they were bringing hamburgers and such (because they asked me to come up with the onions, tomatoes, and lettuce...lol), and started to get cravings that morning. So, I whipped up some raw burgers, raw buns and let them dehydrate while we had church in my living room. By the time of the bbq...my burgers were ready. I used the same toppings, along with my own raw mayonnaise, and voila! Craving defeated! :)
Last night I decided to make some Strawberry Banana Granola, some cheesy crackers, and I had a bunch of food in the fridge I needed to use up. So...let's combine it all into a dip...and then, hey, let's stuff these mushrooms! Yum!!! Okay, I might have left the mushrooms in the dehydrator a tad too long. Oops! I love my leftover-creations...sometimes they are the best. These stuffed mushrooms are incredible!!!
I've sat down to blog every day this week and have just had enough time. So, I think I'll have to break this blog into two. This one will talk about my last Pie Raw Recipe Night, the current CSA goings on, and website fun. The next blog entry will talk about new and exciting foods, fun creations, and lots of new & yummy pictures. :)
Raw Recipe Night: PIES
Since it takes a little time for the pies to chill, I usually make a couple before the class so we have some to sample and take home. Yup...you get to take food home with you!!! The first picture is the lemon pie that I absolutely LOVE and decorate all pretty. If you remember it from the first class, I made it into an American Flag for the Fourth of July. The last picture is the pie we made in class that one of the attendees bought and took home with her. The second picture is six little chocolate mousse pies I made for the class, thinking I was going to have quite the crowd...but unfortunately several people were no shows, so more for us to share! The third picture is the delicious peach cobbler that continues to be everyone's favorite. Not only is it delicious, but it's super easy to make! In fact, it's so easy, I thought I would share it with all of you. Almost everyone who came to my class has been making their own peach cobblers, and I love how excited they get to be eating a raw creation that they can make themselves. So here you go:
· 6 peaches
· 1 C pecans
· 6-7 dates
· ½ C raisins
· Pinch cinnamon
Blend half of the peaches with raisins and cinnamon. Chop the rest of the peaches and stir them into the peach sauce. Process the pecans and dates with cinnamon and crumble on top of the peach mixture. Enjoy!
This is our third week of the CSA I've been organizing here on the west side of the Valley of the Sun (a.k.a. Phoenix, AZ). :) It will be the last basket for those who started at the beginning, but I don't make everyone wait for each campaign, you can join in whenever you like. Some people get 1/2 a basket each week, some get two baskets every other week, and I have two who have prepaid for three weeks but had to go on vacation so will continue to get baskets when they return. If you simply want to try it for a week to see if you can use all the produce, that is fine too...I've had three people do this and always come back for more. :) You get much more than $20 worth of produce...and it's organic!
This Thursday we should have Anna Apples and peaches, which I've been eagerly anticipating for some more peach cobbler. Yum! If you ever sign up for a basket and aren't sure what to do with your produce, please ask...and I can pass along lots of recipes to help out. I'm looking forward to August...my farmer loves preparing foods for the raw lifestyle, so she's been planting lots of greens (yay!), and will soon be sprouting! Yum...organic sprouts...I cannot wait!
Last, but not least, I've been making some changes to the Living Raw By Grace website. If you have noticed, we now have a STORE! Oh, don't get your panties in a bunch. ;) Lots of people have asked about my appliances, the books I recommend, and where to get certain foods. Well, I'm now working with Amazon to supply you with all of these for very low prices. One of the reasons I love Amazon so much is that you can buy USED goods there! My recent used purchases: wireless mouse for my laptop (works wonderfully..for ridiculously cheap), and an FM transmitter for my Ipod in my car. Amazon sells everything, I absolutely love them...so why not make it even easier for you?!
Also...If you take a look at the calendar page, I've uploaded an actual calendar that makes it much easier to see when classes are. If you want details on each class and would like to prepay and register, just scroll down and find the class you want.
I've combined the Links & The Gallery page to make room for the store, but I hope it won't make much of a difference. :)
I've been kicking around the idea of buying my website so that it's simply LivingRawByGrace.com. Whatcha think? Would it make it easier to recommend? It's about time to reorder my business cards as well...I'd love feedback on those as well. Here they are:
So much to talk about!!! This may be a very long blog post, beware. ; ) First and foremost, I need to share about the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that I belong to. Pretty much, you prepay for organic produce to keep the farmer, well..farming. The farmer I work with, Stella McPhee from Horny Toad Farms, is so generous with her produce it's a steal! The amount of produce she sells for simply $20 is remarkable. I got my first CSA basket this past week: an Armenian Cucumber (these are so cool...crazy long and they look like flower petals when sliced - check out the pictures!), four regular cucumbers, eleven Anna apples, five peaches, five tomatoes (Heirloom, Zebra, and Roma), a bag of mixed greens (basil, mint, chives, lemongrass, beet tops, and purslane), four grapefruits, a bunch of carrots (a dozen with greens attached - which I like in smoothies as well), a four pound watermelon, eleven onions (white, red, and baby), seven different peppers (mild and hot), and a potted chive plant - that you can cut the tips off to eat and it will continue to grow! I can't believe how much I got for such a reasonable price...and all organic to boot! No wonder I can't help but share it with everyone I know!!! And the fun thing is that it isn't set in stone...I have different people doing different things. One person is getting two baskets in one week and then skipping the next, another is getting half a basket at half the price, etc. I love that I can work with people to help make everyone happy!
Raw Recipe Night: Pies!
My third Raw Recipe Night was held this past Saturday. It was my first dessert class, and pies are the perfect beginning into raw desserts. They are ridiculously easy to make with simple ingredients. The first we worked on was a Lemon Meringue Pie. Since it was Independence Day weekend, I made mine into a lovely little flag. Cute, isn't it? :) This is the most inexpensive, delicious, and the easiest to make. Two ingredient crust, four ingredient filling...takes less than five minutes to make.
The second pie was a delicious Chocolate Mousse. It was originally planned to be an apple pie, but I think I'll save that for the holidays and introduce everyone to raw chocolate. ;) It's made with young Thai coconuts, which are fun to open and sample...and the water is incredible. You'll learn all about them at the class. That's the fun part of the Raw Recipe Nights. First and foremost, you learn how to make simple healthy food. But there is also TONS of info given out, all prompted by what we are making, the foods that we work with, and any questions that arise. :)
The last dish we created was a peach cobbler. This one is ridiculously easy and has three different components: sliced peaches, peach sauce, and a pecan crumble on top. Yum! You can do this cobbler with any fruit you enjoy, but it's peach season so we will take advantage of fresh, inexpensive produce! Oh, one last thing. If you are interested in coming to the next RRN featuring pies on July 12th, make sure you sign up, prepay or let me know that you are definitely coming...it's filling up very fast. I'm praying I don't have to turn anyone away at the door...
Raw Potlucks (a.k.a Rawlucks)
Last, but not least....there is one topic I don't think I've mentioned before in my blog: raw potlucks. This is where a group comes together and everyone brings a different raw dish...pretty self explanatory. There are seven or eight different Raw Potluck groups in the area and they all hold different kinds of potlucks. Some are small (10-20 people), some are large (100-200 people), some have themes (ice cream, chocolate, etc), and some host classes (kind of like mine). I attended one for the Fourth of July last evening. It was a Raw Ice Cream Party. You could either bring ice cream/sorbet/or supplies, or you could offer some money. It was also a pool party/fireworks party as well. It was held right off of Squaw Peaks, which is a small mountain range in Phoenix that you can hike...breathtaking views and the weather was just right. I brought my Vitamix and made banana based ice creams: Mint Chocolate Chip and Vanilla Blackberry. They went FAST! There was also lots of different ice creams, many sorbets, and some syrups, sauces, and nuts to garnish with. I ate far too much, which is usually what I do at potlucks (because there is so much to try!). Someone had brought a watermelon, so I made some watermelon/mint juice for everyone to refresh themselves after all the ice cream sampling. There are three reasons to go to these potlucks (in my opinion). First, the food: there are always dishes that I don't make (either they have exotic ingredients, take too much work, or I simply don't need more than once a year). The food is simply incredible...and since there aren't many raw restaurants in the area, it's a great way to eat food that I didn't have to prepare personally. ;) Second, the people: everyone is excited to meet others who share the same passion for raw foods, the same open minded stance regarding health, and the incredible energy we all possess even AFTER we fill our bellies. Third, there are almost always fun activities as well. Last night we had a swimming pool with a diving board (which I had LOTS of fun on...pictures might come later) as well as fireworks, some raw groups go on hikes, there are retreats up north in the mountains and forests and down south in the hot springs, trips to the Grand Canyon, and at one of the potlucks I went to someone was using flaming nun chucks. Never a dull moment at one of these get togethers. ;)
About the Blogger
Haley is passionate about Raw Food and how God has used it to heal her. She loves to share what she knows with anyone who is curious, and finds herself talking to everyone around her about her lifestyle.