Monday, January 30, 2012

Oasis Living Cuisine, Frazer PA (Part II)

Hempseed SpreadWhile the shop at Oasis Living Cuisine is quite simple, the products are unique and competitively priced. They offer everything from raw "ice creams" made from nut-milk, to honeycomb, maca powder, hemp-seed spreads, and chocolate-covered kale chips. They also have an array of books available about eating & living a raw lifestyle.

raw parmesan In addition to their eclectic selection from others, Oasis offers their own product line of flavored raw nuts (from cinnamon to ranch), nut-based crackers, sprouted granola, "cheese" and more.

Their dehydrated kale chips have an airy crunch to them. I tried the coconut curry flavor, which is a playful mix of sweet & spicy. The lingering aroma of curry mixed with a hint of apple cider vinegar, evokes an old world melting with new. I could could see these pairing nicely with a curry chicken or sagg paneer. Or perhaps as the base for a raw foods version of a classic Indian dish.

raw chocolate displayOasis also has a wide-array of raw chocolates. Some are sweetened with honey, others with agave. All of the chocolates are dark. It is clear that they use a high quality cocoa source that produces a decent consistency & flavor. That said, the texture is not as smooth as what you would find in a traditionally-made high quality dark chocolate.

Many of the truffles that I tasted had an almost crumbly texture, resulting from the combination of honey and nut fillings. I was underwhelmed by the fruit flavors (cherry, raspberry), but the coconut, mint, and ginger truly shined.

raw chocolates in box

truffle display case
With Valentine's Day just around the corner, vegan & raw food chocoholics will be delighted to know that Oasis will have holiday themed, hand-crafted, raw, vegan chocolate truffles.

Their 2012 Valentine Truffle Collection includes flavors such as raspberry, blackberry, mint-to-be, burnin' love, and coconut cream--all crafted into beautiful hearts of different shapes. I especially like the blackberry: a beautifully dusted, oblong purple heart with a tart bite to it.

Raw Chocolate Box

If you go:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Oasis Living Cuisine, Frazer PA (Part I)

In a classic case of "you can't tell a book by its cover," Oasis Living Cuisine is located in an older looking stretch of shops across from an empty field in Frazer, PA. Its neon 'open' sign and plastic seating does not scream "healthy brunch here," but it is in fact a mecca for raw foodies.

Oasis Living Cuisine offers a selection of raw pizzas, shakes, salads, desserts, organic juices and both raw & traditional wraps. Additionally they have a small shop of raw items that are difficult to find elsewhere (including indulgent raw chocolate truffles!).

On a recent visit I tried the Stuffed Avocado, with carrots, Brazil nut pate, and cashew sauce ($5.75).

Stuffed Avocado

A subtle hint of spice, creamy nut sauce, and perfectly ripe avocados make for a delicious mix of flavor and texture.

Avocado Hummus WrapMy brunchmate ordered a traditional Cheddar Avocado Wrap, with cheddar cheese, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and hummus spread on your choice of wrap (including a gluten-free option) and choice of chips or carrot sticks ($7.50). The wrap was quite tasty, and nicely complemented by the crunch of chips, but unfortunately it lacked avocado in one half.

On another visit, I tried the Avocado Flax Wrap ($7.50), which is very similar to the traditional wrap except for the cheese & wrap itself. The flax wrap has a chewy texture to it, with an intense "flaxy" flavor.

Avocado Flax Wrap

Flax Wraps
While its a bit of an acquired taste, it is a welcome option for creating wraps for both raw food and gluten-free diners alike. Oasis Living Cuisine also sells the wraps to go in their shop.

The Chocolate Banana Shake is made with nutmilk, raw cocoa powder, banana, and agave ($5.75). The shake has a good consistency with a strong banana flavor and an understated touch of chocolate.

Chocolate Banana Shake

In my next post I will explore the shop at Oasis Living Cuisine as well as their raw chocolates. Stay Tuned!

If you go:
  • 134 Lancaster Ave, Frazer, PA 19355
  • Phone: (610) 647-9797
  • They accept credit cards
  • Open Mon-Sat
  • Oasis Living Cuisine

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cafette, Philadelphia PA

Cafette in the SnowTucked away in the heart of Chestnut Hill you will find the tiny dining gem: Cafette. On what otherwise looks like a residential street, you are not extremely likely to happen upon Cafette accidentally. But it's a treasure to seek out, close enough to reach by train, bus or car. It is an ideal brunch spot on a day when you plan to explore the shops along Chestnut Hill's Germantown Ave.

It was much too cold and snowy to sit outside this past weekend, but in nicer weather Cafette offers a patio for bunching. Inside is perfectly cozy and the front room we sat in had nice acoustics even when it got a little crowded. Although, where I sat got a little too cozy--some consumable items I had in a bag hanging off my chair melted from the heat of the floor heater!

Apple and Candied WalnutI ordered the Apple and Candied Walnut Salad, served with greens, bleu cheese, dried cranberries and lemon citronette ($9). The greens were fresh and the lemon citronette was tart without becoming acidic. The bleu cheese was incredibly strong, lingering for hours. I remembered why I'm not always a big fan of bleu cheese, but that said, it was clearly a high quality bleu.

My brunchmate tried the Homemade Flapjacks, "double-stack served with your choice of blueberry, bananas Foster or peach cobbler toppings and Vermont maple syrup"($9). The peach cobbler was a good choice, as that alone would make for a delicious brunch! The peaches were nicely accented by a cinnamon-maple flavor.


The flapjacks were light & airy, just a bit thicker than a crepe, without turning tough. They had a delicate hint of lemon to them. And, something I always love, the toppings are served on the side so you can choose how much to add.

Beverages at Cafette
My brunchmate tried the fresh squeezed orange juice (of the not-so-pulpy variety)and I tried a Sipp Ginger Blossom soda, "spicy ginger and tart lime infused with vanilla." Both fine; nothing overly outstanding about either beverage.

For dessert, I ordered a chocolate chip cookie. Topped with chocolate shavings it was quite pretty to look at. If they had served it warm, it would have melted my heart. But it was still delicious at room temperature. If it was not a Famous 4th Street Cookie, it may as well have been since it was basically identical in taste and texture.

Chocolate Chip Cookie

A delightful place to brunch in the winter, but from the looks of it I think Cafette probably hits their real stride in warmer weather. But anytime of year it is worth stepping off the main drag of Chestnut Hill to brunch at Cafette.

If you go:
  • 8136 Ardleigh Street, Philadelphia, PA 19118
  • Phone: (215) 242-4220
  • They accept credit cards.
  • Cafette

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sauteed Portobello with Mashed Rutabaga and Orange Cranberry Sauce

Sauteed Portobello with Rutabaga MashSauteed Portobello with Rutabaga Mash & Orange Cranberry sauce is a delicious wintertime meal.
It is hearty enough to stick to your bones, but not so caloric as to ruin any New Year's Resolutions.

Mashed Rutabaga is a nice change from traditional mashed potatoes. Flavor-wise they are slightly sweeter than white potatoes but not as sweet as yams.

Orange Cranberry Sauce


Orange Cranberry Sauce
1 bag of fresh cranberries
about 1 cup of orange juice
1-4 tablespoons of maple syrup

Rinse cranberries & put into pot. Add enough orange juice to cover about half-way (about 1 cup). Add sweetener to taste (keep in mind that as the sauce reduces, the flavors become a bit sweeter, so you can always add more at the end too!) . Cover and heat on simmer for about 30minutes, stirring occasionally and keeping an eye that it does not boil over. Once thick, side aside to cool. Or serve warm over ice cream.

Rutabaga Mash


3 medium sized fresh rutabaga
about 1/3 cup of So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk
1/2 cup of sour cream (or vegan alternative if desired)
sea salt
lemon pepper
cheddar cheese (or other) as desired

Clean rutabata and cut off any rough parts. Slice into 1/2" chunks. Simmer, covered, in salt water until soft throughout. Transfer to blender or food processor. Add sour cream & milk, as needed, to blend.

rutabaga mash

Add salt & lemon pepper to taste. Once smooth, transfer back to pot. If desired, add cheese. Heat over low until warm & melted.

Sauteed Portobello

onions & mushroom stemsIngredients:

1 yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon of ghee (or vegan alternative)
2 portobello mushrooms
sea salt

Melt ghee (ghee is clarified butter--it can withstand high heat cooking and adds a great flavor!). Add the onions and cook over low heat, stirring often, until onions start to turn clear & caramelize.

Clean the mushrooms and gently salt them. If there are stems, slice them off and add to the onions (they taste really good!) Add mushrooms to pan, stem side down, keeping heat low. Stir occasionally, to keep onions & mushrooms from burning. Turn once.

uncooked mushrooms

As mushrooms cook, they will start to brown & release water. Turn heat up a bit to burn off the water, stirring constantly. The center of the mushroom will go from white to brown once cooked.

white steams mean portobello not yet cooked

Rutabaga mash & cranberry sauce serves 4.
Portobello Saute serves 2.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Kitchenette Uptown, New York NY

Kitchenette Uptown is filled with charm. Our table is made from a pastel painted wooden door, covered in glass. The decor reminds me a bit of Sabrina's in Philadelphia. And like Sabrina's, you can order brunch food any day of the week. On an early Sunday evening, Kitchenette Uptown was fairly empty but I imagine that is probably not the case earlier in the day. The waitstaff is friendly and prompt, and the food is delicious.

While tempted by their unusually flavored shakes (Red Velvet and Campfire S'more are among the options) I stick with a traditional chocolate milkshake ($6). Sadly the whipped cream is clearly from a can and not fresh, but the consistency of the shake is perfect. I could do with it being a bit more dark chocolatey, but for most palates they have it about right. And it is served in a mason jar!

chick pea burgerI try the Chick Pea Burger, made with mashed chickpeas, carrots and roasted red onions and served on pita with side of tahini ($13.50). Really delicious, but also really messy to eat since the chickpea consistency is slightly closer to hummus than burger. The mild tahini compliments the burger nicely while not overwhelming it. The burger comes with a side and I ordered the butternut-squash. It lacked flavor and needed a bit of salt and perhaps some maple syrup to brighten it up.

Coming off of a week of eating totally raw, this meal was overwhelmingly filling.

My brunchmate orders the Shepherd's Pie – with ground beef, carrots and mashed potato crust ($14.00). Total comfort food, the beef is tender and the overall dish has a gentle sweetness that pulls the flavors together.

Shepard's Pie

Prices are quite reasonable for New York, the vibe is fun and friendly, and the desserts look delicious (if only we had room!).

If you go:
  • 1272 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027
  • Phone: (212) 531-7600
  • They accept credit cards, but offer a discount if you pay with cash.
  • Kitchenette Restaurant

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Vedge Restaurant, Philadelphia PA

vedge logoWhen husband/wife team Richard Landau and Kate Jacoby decided to close Horizons last July, Philadelphia lost a vegan dining treasure. Delicious food, slightly upscale yet affordable, Horizons was a place that both omnivores and vegans alike enjoyed.

Rumor has it Landau & Jacoby received an offer on the building that they could not refuse, so they closed shop and moved to 13th and Locust. Moving is not something new for this team. Horizons was originally located in Willow Grove, PA. But Landau & Jacoby decided it was time to end Horizons and reconceptualize their menu and focus more on a vegetable-based, locally sourced menu. And so, Vedge was born.

First things first, Vedge is NOT Horizons. If you go with the expectation that it is, you will be disappointed. One look at the menu and you realize that Vedge is a place for foodies. Menu words such as roasted maitake, farro, gochujang tofu, kohlrabi, carpaccio, and kimchee crema will enthrall foodies while confusing everyone else.

The second notable difference, and a bit of a surprise, are the portion sizes. As our server described, "I'd recommend ordering 2-3 items to get up to an appetizer or main course serving size. All of the plates are just slightly larger than tapas."

fancy radishesFor my first dish, I ordered the fancy radishes, roasted & marinated, smoked tamari, nori, avocado, shishito ($8). It was very pretty to look at. The avocado was decorated with toasted sesame seeds and the strips of nori were quite playful. Radishes are not something I normally eat or enjoy, which is why I decided to try it. The marinated radishes were really good. The others were palatable, which is more than I can say for most radishes I've tasted in my life, but I feel like the price of this dish reflected the presentation more than substance. As my brunch-mate put it: "I like to go to restaurants to eat food, not look at food. This seems to be a restaurant where you're supposed to look at the food."

portabella carpaccioMy brunch-mate ordered the portabella carpaccio, salsa rustica, arugula crema, olive oil, crostini ($9). The portabella was very nicely sliced, but would not have hurt from a bit more seasoning. The tiny bit of arugula crema I tasted had a nice sharp flavor that worked well with the dish, but I was not a fan of the salsa rustica.

My next course was a winner. Whipped turnips and sunchokes topped with roasted maitake mushrooms ($6). The creamy hot dish was similar to mashed potatoes in consistency, but with a hint of sweetness. And the maitakes gave it a satisfying crunch to each bite. Comfort food you can feel good about eating, and a dish with more than one bite of food.

sunchokes and parsnips

I ordered this off of the "dirt list," which is a list of vegetable sides that changes daily, so who knows what the chances are that it will be available again. I do know that I will be doing my best to recreate this tasty side. If it's on the menu, order it!

roasted maitake
My brunch-mate next tried the roasted maitake, creamy celery root, seared turnip, truffle, red wine($14). Given the amount of food on the plate, this is most certainly a dish that you are paying to look at. The creamy celery root was quite similar to mashed potatoes in texture and taste. The maitake was nicely prepared, but not memorable.

choco-tacoFor dessert I ordered the "Choco-Taco," hazelnut tuile, mole ganache, burnt wood ice cream, and charred pineapple salsa ($9).
The hazelnut tuile was good but could have used a dash of salt to balance out its sweetness. The mole ganach was a nice dark bitter chocolate, but there was not enough of it for my liking. I was not a fan of the burnt wood ice cream or the charred pineapple salsa. Change those two items and we could be talking. The taco was topped with coconut whipped cream, which was nice and fluffy but left a strong coconut aftertaste.

I will be very curious to see how Vedge grows and if there is enough of a market to support the upscale vegan tapas vibe they have going. Right now the menu is a bit of a hit or miss (unlike Horizons where everything was a hit or a smashing success), but hopefully with a bit of time they will refine the menu and portion sizes. Will I dine here again for dinner? Probably not anytime soon. Will I go here for happy hour or late-night drinks & appetizers? Absolutely.

vedge menuIf you go:
  • 1221 Locust Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19107
  • Phone: 215.320.7500
  • They accept credit cards.
  • Vedge Restaurant

Monday, January 9, 2012

2012 Raw Foods Challenge: Retrospective

almost raw saladEating raw this week was a lot easier than I expected it to be. A lot more enjoyable too. And I feel really good. No food comas, or mid-afternoon slumps. No extreme cravings or that feeling of hunger that inexplicably remains sometimes after consuming a high calorie meal.

Yesterday I ate a brownie bite that looked fantastic, but after a week of eating unprocessed raw foods it tasted gross. I almost spit it out because of the super-sugary-preservative-flavor it delivered. I did not intend to stay on a totally raw diet, and I haven't, but in the two days since the challenge ended I chose to eat totally raw for both breakfast & lunch. And I have a feeling that I may continue to keep that up. If you've ever considered eating a diet of simply raw foods, I encourage you to try it (I'm not a doctor or dietitian, so you may want to talk with yours first). Even if you're not up for a radical change, try eating raw for one meal a day. You may be surprised at how energized you feel.

One of the best things I discovered about trying a raw diet is how many vegetables, fruits and nuts I've overlooked. For instance, I discovered that burdock root isn't half bad when chopped up with carrot sticks & served with dip (pictured above). And I've also discovered that eating raw doesn't have to be super complicated and you don't need to run out and buy any special kitchen gadgets to do it.

almost raw lunch

At the end of the day, moderation in any food choices seems to make the most sense. And perhaps that's what I liked about eating raw, it encouraged me to incorporate new foods and expand my diet.

Almost Raw Salad

3-4 cups of spinach
1-2 leaves of swiss chard
handful of raspberries
1oz soft herb goat cheese
1 cup adzuki beans
1/4 cup of mango chopped into small pieces
1/4 cup pomegranates
juice of 1/2 a lime

Rise & dry greens. Break cheese into small pieces & coat the greens. Mix together all the other ingredients and squeeze lime juice over everything.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

2012 Raw Foods Challenge, Day 7

grapefruitRaw Foods Challenge, day 7.

Today is the last day of the challenge. If it had been the first, I probably would have put off eating raw so I'm glad it was the last.

I met brunch mates for breakfast at a diner. I planned ahead and had a delicious smoothie with fruits, greens, and coconut water. At the diner I decided that I would eat non-raw if I wanted to, but instead decided to order grapefruit.

For lunch I had some nuts, honey, raw cheese, and fruit. I've found this to be such an easy lunch and does not get old because it is easy to vary the type of nuts & fruit (and to a lesser extent the raw cheese). Usually after lunch I usually crave something sweet, but the honey is sweet enough to satisfy that desire.

egg-less saladFor dinner I had Brad's Raw Sun Dried Tomato Chips with Awesome Food's Egg-less Salad and a Citrus Kombucha. The salad has a nice crunch of celery and great mix of spices. It tastes great with the chips, I only wish that raw prepared foods were not so expensive. The combined retail price of these three items cost $16.07. Fine for a treat, but not an everyday meal.

Later in the day, I bought some raw mango slices to snack on. I've had mango slices before. Neither liked or dislike them, just neutral. But today they taste amazing. Not sure if my taste-buds have opened up or if I just got an especially good batch. I am thinking it is the former.

Overall I've really enjoyed experiencing a raw foods diet. Trying it for a week is a challenge that while difficult at first, is not impossible by any means. This experience has made me more conscious about foods and how they make me feel. I already was what most people would consider a healthy eater, but eating raw has opened my eyes to a whole new perspective on food.

2012 Raw Foods Challenge, Day 6

guac & sun dried tomato chips Day 6. I had a smoothie with fruit & greens for breakfast. Raw trek mix, fruit & honey for lunch, and raw guacamole with Brad's Sun Dried Tomato Chips. I don't really like these chips on their own, but with the right pairing the flavor explodes. They are really good with guacamole.

Raw Guacamole

1 avocado
juice from 1/2 fresh lime
lemon pepper
1 tablespoon chopped onion (optional)
dash of sea salt (optional)

Mash everything together until smooth & creamy. Serves 1-2.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2012 Raw Foods Challenge, Day 5

Pom Smoothie

Day 5. I was not very hungry today. Not sure why. But I felt satisfied by all that I did eat, and when I broke down the nutritional information for today, I was a little low on protein but otherwise good.

Breakfast was kombucha and some clementines.

For lunch, I ate this:

Fruit, Nuts, Cheese, Honeycomb

For dinner I had leftover salad, some Go Raw Trek Mix, a bit more cheese & honey, and this smoothie:

Pom Smoothie Ingredients
1 banana
handful of frozen strawberries
handful of frozen blueberries
1 cup of spinach
1 container of TJ's mango puree
1 tbs. of ground flaxseed
coconut water (less water='soft serve style' more water='drinkable')
pomegranate seeds

Blend everything except for the pomegranate seeds. Pour into glass & sprinkle seeds on top.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012 Raw Foods Challenge, Day 4

raw oatmealDay four started with oatmeal. Soaked oats are not at all like cooked oatmeal that's cold. When you eat cooked oatmeal when it's cold, it's usually a solid lump. Raw soaked oatmeal's texture is much more like hot oatmeal. But you need to plan ahead on this one for it to turn out right.


1/4 cup of oatmeal
1/2 cup of water
dash of cinnamon
raw honey to taste
fresh or dried berries

1 day before you want to eat it, mix the oatmeal, water and cinnamon. When blended, put into the fridge. Give it a stir once or twice over the next 24 hours. The next morning add the berries & eat!

For lunch I had almonds, clementines, honeycomb, and cheese.
And for dinner I made a salad:

Salad with Lemon Cashew DressingIngredients:
about 2 cups of spinach
lemon-cashew dressing (See: the "pasta sauce" recipe from Day 3's dinner)
handful of raspberries
handful of blueberries
grape tomatoes

Toss everything together & coat with the lemon-cashew dressing.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012 Raw Foods Challenge, Day 3

fruit & cheeseDay 3. I honestly was not sure I would make it this far, and I thought it would be a bit more difficult than it has been. I don't plan on keeping a totally raw diet after this, but it has been an interesting undertaking so far & I haven't really felt cravings, hunger, or lack of energy like I thought I might.

Breakfast was clementines, apple slices, raw cheddar cheese, honeycomb and almonds. Super easy & a delicious sweet start to the day.


raspberry chia kombucha

For lunch I had leftover salad & raspberry chia kombucha. If you've never had kombucha, it is definitely an acquired taste. The first time I bought a bottle I thought it had gone bad. However, it grew on me when I was under the weather once & discovered how quickly I felt better after drinking some--it's filled with B vitamins & probiotics.

For a mid-afternoon snack I had some raw dark chocolate & leafy kale chips.

leafy kale

For dinner I made some raw "creamy pasta."

creamy 'pasta'


1 carrot
1 zucchini
a handful of grape tomatoes
about 1 cup of raw cashews
Juice of 1 lemon
about 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
water as needed
lemon pepper
chipotle pepper

cashew sauce
Combine the cashews with nutritional yeast, lemon juice & water. Blend until smooth.
Add lemon pepper to taste.
Grate the carrot & the zucchini into strips.
Pour the sauce over it & top with tomatoes & chipolte pepper.

raw 'pasta'