It is a known fact, I don’t know how to relax. I almost always have at least 101 things on the go at any one point and this can be both extremely exciting and stressful. Although I have no one to blame for being so busy but myself, yet I cannot help but look upon my feline fur-kids with envy as they happily laze entire days away sleeping, cuddling and lounging about. They are true experts in relaxation. After years of recurrent illness and always being “sickly”, I have finally learnt that to keep up this crazy pace without falling apart it is crucial to take time to nourish my body with excellent nutrition.
Part of this commitment to myself has included switching to eating a more plant-based diet, and whilst I would never claim to be a true vegetarian, we certainly do find ourselves eating less and less meat as the years go on. And for once in my life I can honestly say I don’t really miss it.
A couple of weeks ago I had some surgery to remove a suspicious looking mole from the sole of my foot. While I waited for the pathology results to come back, I madly ticked over in my mind nearly all perceivable potential outcomes, both good and bad. I decided to start to mentally prepare myself in case they needed to perform a much more invasive repeat surgery to take wider margins. All the while my carefree alter-ego sat on my shoulder saying “Settle down woman, it’s just a weird looking mole!”.
And thankfully that imaginary brazen smart-arse was right, there was no evidence of any cancer in my biopsy. Relieved, elated and very grateful, I immediately proceeded to plans with the Boy to head out that evening and celebrate together. Having recently attended a few too many boozy events lately, we both wanted a meat free dinner. I chose CNR Kitchen as I knew they had a lot of vegan, vego and gluten free options on their menu.
We started with the raw vegan tasting plate. It came with a collection of items including Moroccan savoury cakes, dolmades with cashew mint aioli and a serve of raw vegan Pad Thai. It also had a small serve of their house-made dehydrated corn chip crackers with fresh guacamole and pineapple salsa to dunk them in.
The tasting plate was a simple but satisfying dish and would be a great option to order for those who haven’t eaten raw food before. I will have to remember that when on my next pub crawl with my meat-eating friends. The Moroccan savoury cakes contained a careful balance of spices and were my favourite part of the tasting plate despite there being one slight problem. They didn’t hold together very well at all and combined with my usual level of clumsiness, my cakes crumbled apart after the first bite making them very messy to eat.
As I dunked the last half of my Moroccan cake into the cashew mint aioli it crumbled into numerous pieces and fell into the bowl of dip. The Boy could barely stifle his chortle as he grinned and watched my useless attempts to scoop out my crumbs. They still tasted just as good!
Thankfully I managed to eat my raw nachos much more elegantly as my house made corn chips had enough strength and substance to withstand a decent amount of toppings. The added sweetness of the pineapple into the salsa was a winning element and you would have never guessed the cashew sour cream was actually dairy free.
In the dim lighting of the evening I struggled to get a good shot of the eggplant lasagne. This was a vegan version of the Boy’s favourite meal and yet wasn’t missing any flavour despite the lack of any meat. I was actually inspired a few days later to make my own grain free, dairy free lasagne at home.
The lasagne was packed full of veggie goodness with layers of pumpkin, eggplant, mushroom and zucchini flavoured with a rich tomato and black olive marinara and house made macadamia ricotta. I loved the sweet potato crunchy curls tumbled on top.
For dessert we ordered a small selection of the raw desserts. One of the slices I ordered was the chilli chocolate slice but I nearly got in trouble for ordering it by the Boy. He is not a fan of chilli at all and cannot handle anything more than the most mildest of mild heat; lucky for us this slice had just a subtle hint of oomph in it and so thankfully there were no complaints.
The banana cream cake was decadently indulgent and for once I was happy it was only a small serve. Raw desserts can be very rich and even someone with a huge an appetite like me can be easily satisfied with smaller portions.
For someone who must eat gluten free, CNR Kitchen is a welcoming reprieve from all the gluten ladened dude food and Asian eateries located around in Northbridge. I will definitely be reminding myself of their presence next time I’m out partying and become tempted to risk eating a taco or burger. I know that my body will thank me in the morning.
CNR Kitchen are active participants in Eat Drink Perth festivities and hosted a raw dessert teaching class a couple of weeks ago when the Festival began. Attendees were taught how to make a number of delicious sugar free, dairy free and gluten free raw desserts. Of course this was accompanied by taste testing everything.
CNR’s second raw food class is held this week on Tuesday April 7th and for this session they will making dairy free cheese, milk, cream and ice cream using nuts. To find out more head to the Eat Drink Perth website.
Disclaimer: Chompchomp is an official blogger for Eat Drink Perth ’15. Whilst the Eat Drink Perth blogging team are kindly each gifted a number of event tickets from the City of Perth, Chompchomp just cannot help but get into the Perth City mood and attend more than just what she is given. I mean who doesn’t love food festivals! Consequently, she paid for this meal in full.
Northbridge Piazza, 44 Lake Street, Northbridge WA 6003 | (08) 9228 8861 | cnr.net.au
Having food intolerances can be a real pain if you also happen to be a foodie. Over the years I have learnt not to get fixated with a particular dish on the menu as there is always a good chance that I won’t be able to eat it. Some restaurants are compassionate of our allergic needs and clearly identify the gluten free dishes on their menu which makes ordering food so much easier. I look forward to the day I see a fructose friendly marked menu.
Thankfully, my fructose malabsorption causes me much less severe symptoms than my gluten intolerance does. Provided that I strictly avoid all gluten, I can afford to occasionally be a little lenient on the fructose. We were recently invited to Foodie Craving’s Crust Gourmet Pizza store in Mount Lawley to give feedback on their new free WIFI installed in store. The event didn’t start until 8pm so the Boy and I decided to stop en route to Solomon’s Café on Beaufort Street. The concept of an entirely gluten free restaurant is one that already gives me warm fuzzies, but at Solomon’s Café it is also all organic AND dairy free – it almost sounds too good to be true!
Knowing we had an evening of pizza feasting ahead of us, we planned to have a light snack only but as is often the case we may have ended up ordering a bit more than we necessarily needed.
Maybe I should just blame it on the meal sizes? When I chose the raw zucchini pasta, I certainly wasn’t expecting the towering mountain that came to the table. Nor did I plan ahead and ask for the omission of onion. Having eaten raw zucchini pasta on several occasions myself at home, I have grown to really love the texture and will make a great effort to make sure each “pasta” strip is made from the entire length of the zucchini to give long luxurious spaghetti-like strands. For this time round I was disappointed to find my pasta was made from short, comparatively fat pieces of zucchini that would have only been about 6-7 centimetres long. It felt a bit like I was eating a grated zucchini salad. It was tasty, but not what I was anticipating.
The beetroot gnocchi was much more satisfying although that may be in part because I so rarely get to order gnocchi as most are made using wheat flour. They tasted a little doughy yet still had a light texture and matched well with the vegan pesto drizzled lavishly over the top.
As soon as I saw there were vegan nachos on the menu I had a gut feeling the Boy would order this for himself. I was quietly hoping he wouldn’t as we had only recently shared raw nachos at The Raw Kitchen the week before. I like to have interesting and different dishes to photograph and write about but he just wasn’t having it. It was a much bigger serve than The Raw Kitchen and he preferred the salsa as it was more flavoursome.
Continuing in our quest to try and abstain from alcohol for sixty days we each ordered a healthy antioxidant packed drink. I chose the “Bloody Detox” juice squeezed full of fructose friendly beetroot, carrot, celery, parsley, ginger and lemon. The Boy chose the vegan but creamy mango lassi made with mango, coconut milk, cinnamon, cardamom.
Pleasantly but not overly satiated we strolled up Beaufort Street to Crust. I was glad I had left a bit of room for some pizza as they always have plenty of gluten free options for me. The purpose of the evening was to trial run their new free in-store WIFI to assess how useful it would be for their customers and if it was easy to access without guidance.
As we made ourselves comfortable on the alfresco tables some starters were brought out including the gluten free oregano verdi and parmesan squares. All my vegan efforts were thrown out the window as I couldn’t refuse the offer of such cheesy deliciousness like this. Crust’s gluten free bases taste incredibly “normal” and fellow blogger Jacqui from Pantry in Suburbia commented how she couldn’t even tell it was gluten free.
After polishing off some starters we ran through an online questionnaire using the free WIFI. It was very simple to connect across the variety of devices everyone were using and the Internet speed was much quicker than my Optus 3G network. For the gluten free pizza option we chose the Szechuan Chilli Prawn. Crunchy spicy seasoned prawns were scattered generously over the gluten free pizza base along with fresh capsicum, bocconcini and sweet chilli, and then garnished with fresh lemon and chilli. This pizza has a bit of a kick to it and I highly recommend it for those who like a bit of heat.
Crust’s dessert pizzas unfortunately cannot be made gluten free as the gluten free bases are made off site in a gluten free environment to minimise any contamination. I looked on in envy as every devoured the Black Forest Crumble; a decadent dessert pizza layered with custard, mud cake and black cherries, topped with baked crumble, drizzled with berry coulis and dusted with icing sugar. Given that our small table managed to eat its way through two of these, I am guessing they were pretty damn good. Gluten free dessert options at Crust include their chocolate mousse and all their ice cream flavours. The chocolate mousse is by far my favourite. I love how there are numerous little chocolate nibs buried in the mousse.
Solomon’s Café is definitely worth a visit for anyone with dietary issues as the menu is designed for us. Better still they use organic ingredients without the high price tag you would expect. Whilst not all our dishes had a wow factor, I loved how I could order pretty much anything off the menu like back in the days before I knew about my intolerances. Total freedom without all the health issues that used to come with it!Solomon’s Café 487 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003 | (08) 9328 7995 | Facebook Price: $$ (Mains $20-36, Sides/Small bites $5-12) Food: 3/5 (would prefer more vego options given niche target market) Service: 3.5/5 (slow to bring out meals however were packed) Ambience: 3.5/5 (noisy and vibrant) Drinks: 3.5/5 (both juice and smoothie options, fructose free options) Total: 13.5/20 www.crust.com.au
I hate making promises that cannot be kept and I frown upon those that do. Come New Year’s Day when I am surrounded by friends and family making pledges to be healthy, eat less, drink less, exercise more and all that jazz I usually remain mum. That is until this year. After my mini-burn out in November that ended in me having to take a week off work, I reluctantly returned to the grindstone still exhausted but somewhat more functional. My drinking habits had escalated to compensate which only served to make me even more tired. Our New Year’s Eve was supposed to be a quiet one at our local The Precinct but with such fabulous food and atmosphere, we both got a little carried away. The night ended with me staying up well after the Boy had gone to bed, dancing alone in the kitchen with the cats. Yes, I really am a crazy cat lady.
Feeling sad and sorry for ourselves on New Year’s Day, the Boy and I agreed we would attempt to do a 60 day healthy promise to our bodies which involved drinking no alcohol, eating a plant based diet, fasting for two days a week and taking up weekly yoga with a private instructor.
Could we do it?
A vast part of our time together is spent eating out and the thought of regularly doing this without a drink in hand sounded a bit foreign to me. But people have a way of surprising themselves and lo and behold, we have nearly reached the end of our first month with close to a 100% success rate if you can exclude the small amount of wine we drank on our weekend with Mum in Adelaide. I mean, when you are at a winery you cannot NOT drink, can you?
Over recent weeks I have found myself searching for more vegetarian focused restaurants to visit. Just because we are not drinking alcohol it doesn’t mean we give up our regular nights out. To me that is just madness. The first healthy place on my list was The Raw Kitchen. These guys have recently packed up and moved locations to a bigger and most definitely better venue.
Their new digs have a yoga studio, a shop and a much more comprehensive menu including some cooked food plus the signature raw dishes. Everything is both dairy and gluten free without a piece of meat in sight. We each started our meal with a freshly blended smoothie. Since getting my own Omniblend blender at home, smoothies are a regular treat for us. I no longer crave eggs on toast after a long run; I lust after some sort of insanely swamp-like smoothie. Most of The Raw Kitchen’s smoothies contained agave syrup which is not suitable for us fructose malabsorbers as it is high in fructose however they are happy to omit this on request.
I chose the Minty Moment which contained fresh mint, cacao, vanilla bean, ice and almond milk with the agave syrup omitted. Unfortunately I believe the agave was an essential ingredient for this drink as a sweetener and it was not the easiest to drink without it. The Boy’s Summer Green with organic spinach, cucumber, mango, mint, lemon, dates was much tastier but I only dared to take a miniature sip as both mango and dates are high in fructose and would leave me with a significant tummy ache.
For our late lunch, we each picked two dishes and shared the lot between us. Our waitress organised for the meals to be brought out staggered to give us time to relax and enjoy each one. We started off with some roasted chats (not raw obviously) dusted with fennel seeds. They came with a lemon wedge to squeeze over them. Browned to a chewy, near crunchy colour we gobbled these up in snippety snap record time.
To accompany our only cooked dish we ordered their farmers market superfood salad. At a quick glance it didn’t look like anything very special but as I delved deeper into the piles of coloured leaves I could literally feel my liver detoxifying by the second. In addition to the multitude of greens, there was some seaweed, goji berries, pickled ginger and sprouts and everything was tossed thoroughly with a garlic ginger tahini dressing.
Our next two dishes were more interesting. The first one was something that we have already tried on our previous visit to The Raw Kitchen; raw nachos. I tried my hardest to encourage the Boy to order a dish we hadn’t already eaten but with no success. He can be pretty easy going most of the time but when he has definitively made up his mind for something he will not budge.
The nachos were made with raw, dehydrated, hand cut corn chips, walnut “beans”, fresh tomato salsa, guacamole and cashew “sour cream”. It was hard to believe this meal contained no dairy as the sour cream tasted like the real McCoy. There was a lot of onion in the salsa which I had to slowly and deliberately pick out piece by piece. Next time I will have to try and remember to ask for it without.
Being massive sushi fans we were keen to see how the raw sushi would turn out. The cooked sushi rice was replaced with cashew cauliflower “rice” and rolled up in seaweed with enoki mushrooms, avocado, pumpkin, sprouts, wasabi mayo and ponzu. Marinated shiitake mushrooms were served on a bed of carrot and cabbage on the side. Incredibly this flavour-packed sushi tasted pretty close to normal sushi except the texture of the “rice” was a little chunkier.
Eating raw, vegetarian, grain free food always leaves me feeling so light even if I eat a fair amount. I simply don’t get any of that uncomfortable bloating that overeating normal food usually gives me. This meant we both had plenty of room for dessert and whilst a lot of raw desserts contain dried fruit and thus fructose, I was willing to risk it with my glucose tablets ready in hand. After much discussion we both picked our own desserts only to be informed that all but one of the cakes had sold out in addition to all of their raw ice cream and most of their smaller sweets.
All that they had left were the hazelnut torte and a couple of small sweets including the peppermint slice. We ordered one of each. It didn’t end up being such a bad decision after all as each choice was delectable in its own right. The Hazelnut torte was richly chocolaty with a light foamy mousse texture that once again tasted so dairy-ish.
The peppermint slice had a hint of coconut in it and ended with a refreshingly cool minty aftertaste. Despite the pure decadent appearance of the torte, the peppermint slice was the winner by a long shot. The Boy actually had to physically stop me from over indulging at the counter as I nearly bought a stack to go home with. He reminded me that although they were gluten and dairy free, it was doubtful they were fructose free and I would regret my excesses the following day. I hate it when he is right!
My consolation prize was a visit to their shop where we spend a little wad of cash on some books and little snacks. I even found one of Pana Chocolate’s flavours that isn’t sweetened with agave syrup; the Sour Cherry and Vanilla. For those lovers of raw chocolate, Pana Chocolates are worth a try. So buttery smooth, it melts in your mouth like no standard chocolate could.
Raw Food is making more and more of an emergence into mainstream eating cultures. Whilst some may consider it a bit of a fad, and some may take it to the extreme, we enjoy incorporating it into our own diet within reason. As The Raw Kitchen can prove; raw food can be much more than just a pile of boring salads and soaked nuts and if you haven’t experienced it I highly recommend a visit.The Raw Kitchen 181A High Street, Fremantle | (08) 9433 4647 | www.therawkitchen.com.au Price: $$ Food: 4/5 (being kind to your body never tasted so good. A food allergic’s dream) Service: 3/5 (they know their menu well, shame about so many items having run out) Ambience: 3.5/5 (open, well lit and funky) Drinks: 3/5 (smoothie galore – unless you have fructose malabsorption) Total: 13.5/20
After a pretty hectic start to our year, thoughts about planning for our wedding have remained in the infant stages. But there are some things that need to be commenced well in advance of such an occasion and one of those is getting our bodies into top shape! Seriously, there are no real overnight miracles to losing weight and toning up, the secret is really simple. Eat healthily in moderation and increase your amount of exercise. It’s definitely not rocket science. The trick is just sticking to it!
The Boy recently was inspired by a documentary called Fat Sick and Nearly Dead. It’s about an overweight Australian guy named Joe Cross who suffered from a number of illnesses secondary to his poor diet and weight problem. He decided to go on a 60 day juice fast drinking only fresh fruit and vegetables. During his fast he drove nearly 5000 kilometres across America with only one goal in mind; to get off all his medication and achieve a balanced lifestyle. During his road trip he met a man with similar health issues as he had and together they supported each other to becoming fitter, healthier and happier men.
After watching the doco The Boy went out and bought himself a juicer and a fridge full of fresh fruit and vegetables and tried it for himself. As I watched the kilos peel off him, it wasn’t hard to partially convert me however I’m not sure I could get through the whole day drinking just juice and no food! My will power is not that strong!
In a way to complement his new founded desire for raw fresh produce, I suggested a trip down to Fremantle to try The Raw Kitchen where all the food is vegetarian, vegan, organic, raw, dairy free AND gluten-free! It almost sounds too good to be true!
Their dairy free green smoothies were much tastier than our own concoctions at home although bear in mind we didn’t add any nut milk to ours – they were just straight vegies and fruit! They are made with handmade almond milk, filtered water, spinach and banana. The Boy had fresh mango added to his which made it a bit sweeter. Despite being served enormous glasses full we both easily gulped ours down quenching our thirst from the mornings exercise around the Swan River.
So much for my words of wisdom to eat in moderation. We got quite carried away as everything on the menu looked so good and we ended up ordered way too much food leaving no room for any dairy free cheesecake! The raw pizza was packed full of flavour with piles of fresh basil on top. There was some red onion on the pizza which I had to pick off which wasn’t a big issue. The cashew nut cheese tasted surprisingly cheese-like and it was hard to believe that it didn’t contain any dairy.
The nachos were a small serve but for us this was fortunate for us! The corn chips had an almost nutty flavour and were surprisingly crisp considering they had not been baked.
The “pasta” was made out of ribbons of raw zucchini which had an excellent firm texture to mimic that pasta feel. The rich sauce was lip smacking good and contained some sliced Kalamata olives and more delicious fresh basil. It was topped off with a sprinkling of raw macadamia “parmesan cheese”. Highly recommend.
Have You Liked My Facebook Page?The Raw Kitchen Shop 14, Piazza Arcade, 36 South Terrace, Fremantle 6012 | 0409 323 441 | www.therawkitchen.com.au Price: $$$ ($18-23 lunch, $3.80 espresso, $8.50-10 smoothies) Food: 5/5 (the pizza and the pasta are complete winners) Service: 3/5 (quick to bring food but slow to clear tables) Ambience: 2.5/5 (in an arcade in front of shops) Drinks: 4/5 (fabulous smoothie) Total: 14.5/20
I have been keen to try the popular V Burger Bar for absolutely ages, so after creating much hype with the boy all day (including performing a little dance that he calls my Homer dance), we journeyed down to the Albany Highway café strip to give their burgers a shot. To my extreme disappointment I was to find they had run out of gluten-free buns! I was so devastated! I had been conjuring up images of sinking my teeth deep into a juicy burger for much of the day and nearly stamped my feet like a child in the middle of the restaurant due to my exasperation.
Walking out of the restaurant I could see the dismay on the boy’s face too. I know how much he loves nachos, so I made what ended up being a very bad decision and suggested we stroll over to Pancho’s Mexican Villa instead. We walked by all the tried and tested Thai and other Asian joints and walked down the dirty mall corridor into a packed and noisy restaurant.
Service started off a little slow leaving us sitting thirsty and peckish for long enough to notice. As I perused the menu I was pleased to see there were plenty of gluten-free options and figured that all I needed to do was stay well away from any salsas to avoid the onion. We started off with some strawberry daiquiris – this is the boy’s favourite drink when we were in Thailand. Unfortunately none of our memories came flooding back to us when presented with this toxic looking beverage. It came out a strange bright fluorescent red colour and was sickeningly sweet presumably with the A to Z of all things artificial. Not exactly my kind of drink but with a half of a bottle of Cloudy Bay Chardonnay already in me I was willing to compromise and just go with the flow.
For entrées we ordered some dips with corn chips and some potato skins to share. Our dips came out after a short delay without the accompanying potato skins entrée. As we chatted and tapped our feet to the horrific mix of 80’s tunes playing, we ate our first half of our entrée and I began to wish we had stopped at Little Ying Thai instead. The corn chips tasted commercially made and the dips were very oily and bland. The guacamole was basically just mashed avocado with minimal lemon juice, tomato, spices or salt added. The Queso dip tasted like the plastic cheese that you get in little cheese sticks for children’s lunch boxes but melted down into goop a bowl. I avoided most of the chilli con carne dip as I figured it would most likely have some onion in it. I had a very small taste of it which proved to be watery and as tasteless as the rest of the dips.
As we nibbled away and wondered where our skins were, a waiter zoomed past our table with a sizzling plate of hot food. As he walked past us big spats of hot oil came showering over the top of me and left a couple of blisters on my neck. I wasn’t sure if I was being a bit of a sook but it was stinging a fair bit! The boy gave a quick glance at my neck in the dim light and could see little blisters starting to form on my skin! I gestured to the waiter and explained to him what had happened. He said he would talk to his manager however unfortunately that was all we heard from him all night. No apology was forthcoming, nor was any discount or compensation offered.
Slowly but surely we managed to work our way through our fairly dismal entrées. We are normally fairly speedy eaters but these dips were by no means delicious. Finally our mains were brought to our table however we were still without our second entrée. We let the waiter know that we were expecting another entrée and we were informed that it was on the way.
I ordered the Cajun camarons – this was described on the menu as northwest sizzling prawns, dusted in spices, served with rice and vegetables. I figured a meat dish with spices and no sauces would be an easy way to avoid onion as it was already marked on the menu as gluten-free. The prawns came out sizzling in about half a cup of stale oil which drenched through the whole remainder of the dish. The vegetables that accompanied the meal consisted of a soggy slop of cooked grated carrot, zucchini and capsicum with micro-heads of mushy broccoli. It was so overcooked the vegetables had progressed in texture to become more of a stringy mash. The oil from the prawns soaked right through the vegetables to give everything on the plate an unpleasant and nearly rancid aftertaste. The rice was about the only thing edible on the plate and although that was a little overcooked; in my hunger I still ate it.
The boy ordered his beef nachos. They were unmemorable and a bit soggy and he had very little to comment about them at all.
Once we had both finished our main meals our second entrée finally appeared. At this point in time we had to laugh. I was expecting some crisp skins, ones that you could eat with your fingers – a little like wedges but less meaty, with maybe some kind of sauce (we chose beef). Nothing prepared me for the mountain of mush that was put in front of us. We started to eat it but found all the oil, cheese and sour cream piled high on top of a barely existent poor potato skin proved as inedible as the rest of our meals. I gestured to the waiter to take it away before I started to feel ill.
It has been nearly ten years since I have eaten Mexican – we ate it often when we lived in London as there were a couple of favourite places we used to visit. I am reluctant to even eat it again after this experience but we are going to give it another shot and hit up another Mexican place in my next blog …. Stay tuned……Price: $$ ($10-16 Entrée, $17-27 Mains) Food: 0.5/5 (near on revolting) Service: 2/5 (service with a smile and a scar to make sure you never forget) Ambience: 3/5 (a packed restaurant gives good vibe) Drinks: 2/5 (too toxic and artificial for me but cheap) Pancho’s Mexican Villa Restaurant 885 Albany Hwy, East Victoria Park 6101 | (08) 9361 2135 | www.panchos.com.au