My Raw Food Birthday

Food Philosophy, Personal, Restaurant Review

Over this weekend, I celebrated my twenty-third birthday. Repeatedly. And it was splendid. There were many inspiring conversations, tasty eats, and whopping love hugs. I got to spend the day with two of my best buds: Saar – one of my favourite Europeans and fellow nutritionists – and Erik, the beloved boyfriend. We spent some time in the sunshine and had lunch at Raw Aura in Port Credit. Raw Aura’s menu is gluten-free, vegan, and completely raw with nothing being heated above 43C, although there are a few menu items that are served hot. I’ve always admired raw vegans for their inventiveness in the kitchen, especially in the dessert department!

Raw Aura's menus for smoothies, wines and spirits, desserts, and main courses.

What Makes Raw Food So Great?

The majority of people can definitely use more raw veggies and fruit in their diet. Here’s why:

  • Greater nutrient density: Many vitamins such as vitamin C, thiamine, pantothenic acid, and folate are heat-sensitive and are damaged by cooking. Including more raw food in your diet means eating food with a greater nutrient density.
  • Enzymes: Raw fruits and vegetables are rich in enzymes that aid in digestion by helping to break down nutrients. Like the vitamins mentioned above, enzymes are also easily damaged by heat and as a result, are easily destroyed in the cooking process.
  • You can fill up without feeling bloated: Feel free to fill up on as much non-starchy raw vegetables as you want. You’ll be doing your body a solid! The majority of my salads take place in a mixing bowl bigger than my head, and I never feel bloated, icky, or guilty afterwards.
  • Increased regularity: Another reason why you’ll be feeling less bloated? By filling up on fruit and veg, you’ll be getting an awful lot of fibre in your diet. This is a good thing! We should be aiming for at least 30 grams per day of insoluble fibre which will help keep your digestive system chugging along nicely. Which means a lot less poop hanging out in your intestines and contributing to that distended tummy look. Is it okay for me to say ‘poop’ here? Duh, I’m a nutritionist. I can comfortably talk about poop whenever the heck I want. 
  • Less packaging: Replacing the packaged foods in your diet with more produce will dramatically decrease your contribution to the world’s landfills, which we can all do a little more of!

I’ve been to this restaurant a handful of times in the past, but I always end up getting the same thing: the Cinnamon Toast Crunch smoothie (which actually tastes just like the cereal of it’s namesake), and the Burstin’ Burrito.

My meal: Cinnamon Toast Crunch Smoothie (almond butter, dates, banana, cinnamon, and maca), and the Burstin' Burrito (raw soft sun-dried tomato and carrot tortilla stuffed with lettuce, tomato, red onion, guacamole, and refried pumpkin seed beans, garnished with cashew sour cream and side salsa)

The smoothie was a blend of almond butter, dates, banana, cinnamon, and maca. While I normally love this smoothie, it is very decadent and was probably not an optimal choice after a few days of indulgence! I think that I usually get it without the dates, and I forgot to make that request on this particular occasion…

Another shot of my smoothie with my friend, Saar, sipping on green juice (kale, celery, cucumber, romaine lettuce, parsley, lemon and ginger) in the background

Saar also ordered the burrito which was it’s usual scrumptious self. Check out the drool-worthy description they had on their menu: “A soft sun-dried tomato and carrot tortilla stuffed with lettuce, tomato, red onion, guacamole, and refried pumpkin seed beans, garnished with cashew sour cream and side salsa.”

Another shot of my raw vegan burrito, slathered in cashew cream and garnished with a side salad

Erik had the felafel wrap which contained some sprouted chickpea felafels in a collard green wrap with tzatziki and other vegetable goodies.

Erik's sprouted chickpea felafel wrap in collard greens

I finished lunch off with a bright and energizing green juice (kale, celery, cucumber, romaine lettuce, parsley, lemon and ginger – could have used some cilantro!) before Saar handed me an incredibly sweet birthday letter that she had written me. My eyes were burning and I was trying not to cry at the table. We headed outside where she handed me a large and mysterious cardboard box.

The giant mystery cardboard box containing my birthday present from Saar

My birthday present from Saar: vanilla whey protein powder from Genuine Health, and homemade gluten-free vegan pepernoten (a Dutch Christmas treat!)

Little bundles of Dutch pepernoten (wrapped in brightly coloured foil)

Inside was a container of Genuine Health Proteins+ vanilla whey protein powder which I can’t wait to try! I always buy chocolate protein powders, so it will be fun to get some variety into my green smoothies. She had also baked me three different kinds of vegan pepernoten, this spicy Dutch cookie which they normally have at Christmas. Don’t worry Saar, I promise I’ve been sharing a little bit!

A close-up of spicy Dutch pepernoten. Great with tea!

Saar and I in a giant whopping love hug

When I got home from lunch, I spent the rest of the evening relaxing and hanging out with my family. My mom and younger sister, Abbey, made a beautiful dinner of curried salmon steaks, a giant salad, and roasted asparagus.

My birthday feast (roasted asparagus, salad with tons of cucumber, curried salmon steaks)

After dinner my youngest sister, Allaina, presented me with this naughty chocolate caramel apple! I cut it up into slices and shared it with everyone for dessert. I will never tire of the fresh fruit and chocolate combination. If you’re going to indulge, make sure you do it in style!

Birthday dessert from my baby sister, Allaina: an enormous chocolate caramel apple with rainbow sprinkles. Don't worry, I  shared.

Anyway, that’s all for now. If you’re Canadian, like me, I hope you had a lovely long weekend. Happy Canada Day! Anne xxoo

Two pesto waffles topped with poached eggs, roasted red pepper and zucchini, sliced avocado and drizzled with balsamic reduction

A Hasty Easter Recap

Holidays, Personal

Hello there! I hope you all had a wonderful and restful long weekend! I spent mine celebrating Easter with my family in various ways and probably as a result, am feeling brain numbingly lazy today. After dropping off Erik at work for nine o’clock this morning, I managed to stay awake long enough to shovel some oatmeal in my face before proceeding to take a three hour nap! My body’s way of telling me that it wasn’t ready to get out of bed? I think so.

On Friday, Erik and I began our day gobbling up brunch with his brother and sister at one of my new favourite breakfast places, The Cannon. They’re this fabulous waffle house and cafe in Hamilton, and super extra cool: they provide both gluten-free and vegan options. And they make a lovely almond milk latte. On this particular morning, I ordered the ‘Merican Brunch, which consists of two pesto waffles topped with roasted zucchini and red pepper, sliced avocado, 2 poached eggs, goat cheese, and drizzled balsamic reduction. To. Die. For.

Two pesto waffles topped with poached eggs, roasted red pepper and zucchini, sliced avocado and drizzled with balsamic reduction

Side view of pesto waffles topped with poached eggs, roasted red pepper and zucchini, sliced avocado and drizzled with balsamic reduction (with bites taken out of them)

The rest of the day was spent visiting with Erik’s family in Barrie where we had a potluck dinner. No photos were taken as it was wolfed down far too quickly.

Saturday, Erik and I went to a Yoga Cross class (to simplify, this is basically a HIIT workout in a hot yoga room; quite possibly my favourite invention EVER) in the afternoon and my glutes are still feeling it! Erik’s dad and step-mom were in town for Easter weekend, so we joined them for a quick dinner to refuel before we all went off to see the new Wes Anderson movie, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, which was FANTASTIC. If you are at all a fan of the quirky, the hilarious, and the visually stunning, this movie is worth seeing in theatres. It was so much fun, I nearly peed myself laughing.

Yesterday, being Sunday, was the last day of our Easter celebrations. We spent the afternoon lounging at Erik’s mom’s house. I took his sister for a driving lesson in the high school parking lot, which was not nearly as terrifying or life-threatening as either of us had feared. Actually, it ended up being a pretty good time.

Carly and I sitting in my car, getting ready to embark on a driving lesson

We watched the season two premiere of “Orphan Black”, and holy crap I cannot wait for the next episode. After our third giant and decadent dinner of the weekend, Erik and I headed home and are now most definitely ready for Yoga Cross this afternoon. Wish us luck!