Tuesday, August 23, 2011

9 Year Old Tyler, our guest food blogger, about to experience RAW cuisine.

Tyler's RAW Vegan Experience at Leafy Greens in St. Petersburg

Hi! My name is Tyler and this is my second vegan experience. I went with my mom and Miss Ann to Leafy Greens in St Petersburg. On the way I was nervous because I didn’t know if I was going to like the food. My mom said that Miss Ann had ordered almost everything on the menu for me to try! That made me feel like “Oh man. I am not going to be able to finish all of that! I will be stuffed!”
When we arrived there I didn’t know that it was going to be so small. I thought it was going to be a big place but when I walked in it was small but nice. The tables are in order kind of like dice and the kitchen is pretty cool. You can hear them cooking your food. 
I met the owner Miss Denise. She is very nice and thoughtful. She let me go in the kitchen with the waitress who was real nice and get a tour. The kitchen is VERY clean. There is no stove but they have 3 big dehydrators that they make the food in. The chef is always working hard to make the food. I also saw the nut crusher. It looks like a hammer in a way. It’s pretty cool. 
Miss Denise also sent an order of Kale Chips to the table for me to try. My mom and Miss Ann told me that Kale is like lettuce but when they dehydrate it then its like a chip. They tasted ok. I didn’t like them the best but they were ok.  They kind of had a cheddar cheese taste with a spicy taste too.  The waitress brought us water with lemon and mint leaves in it. The mint didn’t really have a taste. It tasted like water.
 We ate a bunch of different things. Pizza, tacos, salsa, salad, veggie burger, the real deal (a sandwich), spaghetti, and macaroons for dessert (chocolate and vanilla).  And don’t forget none of theses things has a mother or a face.  The food was brought to us one at a time so we could try everything slowly. The look of everything was kind of cool except the salad. It looked like an ordinary salad. Everything else was presented pretty, especially the macaroons. It reminded me of the movie Ratatouille.
The pizza, also my favorite, was REALLY GOOD! It tasted more like an almond pizza. The pizza dough is made of crushed nuts and they put olives and diced vegetables on it. I liked the taste of the “dough” more than anything! 
Next was my second favorite, also my mom and Miss Ann’s favorite, the tacos. It was made with lettuce for the shell and no meat. There were crushed nuts for meat and salsa. I’m not sure what else was in it, but it was GOOD! 
After that they brought us a veggie burger (photo below). It was really good even though it was made out of mushrooms. It looked yummy when it came and it tasted yummy. 
The real deal was next. It’s a sandwich with sprouts, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole, and cashew hummus. It is served on raw onion bread. The bread tastes really good. 
Next was the spaghetti made of zucchini (photo below) served with their version of tomato sauce.   It looked really good and it looked just like spaghetti but it didn’t taste like I thought it was going to. I liked the sauce, it was ok, but I didn’t like the zucchini noodles. It’s probably just too much zucchini for me. Miss Ann said I didn’t have to finish it so I ate another piece of the real deal sandwich instead. That was much better.
Last but not least, for dessert, Miss Ann ordered the macaroons.(photo below) It looked REALLY good when it came to our table. It looked like two golf balls, one chocolate and one vanilla but not smooth like golf balls. It came with a split blackberry and some raspberry chocolate tasting sauce drizzled on it and underneath it. It looked like the best dessert ever! 
First I tried a piece of the vanilla one. It is made of coconut, vanilla almond, and a sweet something else.  It tasted really good and then I took a taste of the chocolate one made with coconut, cacao, and other flavors. The chocolate one was not as good as the vanilla one because it was to chocolaty for my taste. And to me chocolate and coconut do not mix. (Although Miss Ann disagrees!) I ate another piece of the vanilla one and then I ate the rest of it. It was AWESOME!
Overall I would rate the leafy greens cafĂ© a 4 out of 5 stars. It wasn’t perfect because I would like the tables to be bigger so that I am not sitting right on top of someone else. The food though was FANTASTIC! I would definitely go back there again! The experience was kind of cool for me. It made me feel like a totally new type of person.

The Burger!

Now comes The Real Deal!

Lottsa Sprouts.

The Spaghetti!

Ahh, dessert!

The Story Behind the Garden of Eden Vegan Blog

For those of you who knew me prior to December 30, 2009, I was a veteran of the fast food culinary institute. My son, when he lived with me would ask if I had ordered the "Shabbat pizza" yet as the sun was setting Friday nights.

My idea of a good meal was a McFish sandwich, fries with extra salt, and a medium diet coke.

Everything was better covered in a rich creamy sauce and the idea of a naked baked potato was as foreign to me as walking naked in Manhattan.

In June of 2009 I decided to formally become a vegetarian. Although I had dabbled with this, it was not until I read Skinny Bitch that the gauntlet was thrown.

Now being a vegetarian does not sign you up for good health. I was proof of that. Chubby when I started, I indulged in pizza, french fries, cheese, cheese, butter, cheese, pizza......and became very over weight, tipping the Toledos at 200 pounds at 5'4". And taking an assortment of meds for cholesterol and GERD and who knows what else.

As the decade was waning, and with my 60th birthday approaching in the year 2010, there was a perfect storm that snapped my beak and got me in gear. The same friend who gave me Skinny Bitch, turned me on to the John McDougall website. At the same time, there was a Grand Round lecture at the hospital where I work on the book Eat to Live, and at the same time, I was tired of how I looked and felt and needed to make a change.

I regret that I did not start this blog when I changed my lifestyle, but it is better late than never.

My weight is down about 35 pounds, my size has gone from a tight 16 to a loose 12. And I am on no meds, although my vegetarian doctor and I will review my blood work within this month to see if I need anything (like b12) boosted.

I began as a Vegan Minus. Or what I call a Garden of Eden Vegan.

As you know, a Vegan eats no animals nor animal products - none. But then I subtracted oil, sugar, and processed foods.

That is a big subtraction -- but it is this subtraction that helped with weight loss, lack of cravings, increased energy, health, and vibrancy.

Now I am dabbling in raw foods and have signed up to learn with Russell James (google him).

I like the taste and health aspect of raw foods, but worry about the increased calories. So I will (hopefully) use the raw creations as a supplement to my Gan (Hebrew for Garden -- I am in a Hebrew mood today) Eden Vegan lifestyle.

My doctor said that I should write a book about this since most of her patients need it. I said, "Who, or how many, would want to do this?" We shall see. It has been easy (no cravings) and exciting as life and energy unfold before me, just as it was meant to be. (It didn't unfold over a fried fish sandwich, extra tarter sauce.)

Join me or not. Walk with me the whole journey, day trips, part of it, or not. This is my 60th year -- buckle up life, here I come.