Live Organic Food Bar
My dad’s a raw vegan, so for Father’s Day last Sunday, I invited him for a late lunch/early dinner to Live Organic Food Bar in Toronto.
For those who don’t know what “raw vegan” means, it’s a diet that’s a step further than veganism (no animal products) – it means no cooking! Raw vegans believe in eating only raw, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. And since nobody wants to eat salads for every meal, raw vegans are pretty nifty at whipping up creative, delicious (but still raw!) gourmet dishes. You’ll see what I mean in a minute.
For the slightly less adventurous, don’t worry – you don’t need to be vegan or raw to dine here. In addition to organic, raw cuisine, Live Organic Food Bar also offers healthy cooked vegan dishes.
Live is a charming little spot with flowers on every table, mason jars of water, exposed brick, and nature-themed decals decorating the walls.
They opened back in 2002, and I remember going there as a child with my parents to celebrate the success of talented chef and owner Jennifer Italiano, who we were friends with. She’s done incredibly well for herself since then, with her to-go products in nearly every major grocery chain in Toronto.
Though the decor of the place has changed a lot since they opened, its spirit and vibrancy remain just as I remember.
In addition to the dining area, there’s a fresh juice and smoothie bar in the back, and little grab-and-go nibbles and drinks made on site for those in a hurry.
There, that’s the tour. Now comes the fun part. Dad and I explored the menu and decided on drinks before we had settled on what to eat.
We both ordered the “Liquid Plumber” (bonus points for the hilarious name), a fresh-pressed juice made from kale, cucumber, celery, lemon, dandelion greens, and pink salt.
Garnished with a slice of apple, it’s certainly not the tastiest juice on the menu, but boy does it pack a healthy punch. Personally, I pretend I’ve been dared to drink it, it makes it easier. Your body will thank you for it, and we’ve all done a lot worse for a dare, haven’t we? ;)
The menu denotes which items are raw and which are cooked, with little “R” or “C” signs. Since I was feeling up for a challenge, I decided to go for something totally raw, just like my dad.
Our food arrived beautifully plated, and I couldn’t resist taking a few photos. Luckily my dad was away when they brought our food out, so I didn’t have to bother him with my shutterbug tendencies.
He went for the nachos: huge corn chips (dehydrated at temperatures below the cooking point) served with “refried beans” (made from sunflower seeds and spices), “taco meat” (made from walnuts), “sour cream” and “nacho cheese” (both made from blended cashews, lemon, and a few other things), fresh salsa, guacamole, green onions, and sliced pickled jalapeños.
It may sound unusual, but I tried some and it was actually really delicious. A nice combination of textures, from the crunchy chips to the creamy sauces, and the jalapeños, salsa, guac, and green onions lent it some flavour authenticity.
Dad also had a side “Caesar” salad, with mixed greens, sprouts, and kale, and “croutons” made from dehydrated nuts and seeds. Given that there wasn’t even a creamy dressing nor romaine lettuce, I thought this name was a bit of a stretch, even by raw vegan standards.
I ordered the “pizza” – squares of crust made from dehydrated walnuts and sweet potato, topped with pesto, arugula, tomato, olives, cashew “feta”, almond “parmesan”, and an artichoke heart.
It was a fantastically tasty dish, but pizza it is not.
I was slightly worried going in that I would leave still hungry. But both my dad’s meal and mine were surprisingly filling due to all the nuts and seeds. We were so full that we didn’t even have space for any dessert!
Such a rookie mistake. I should know by now to always leave room for dessert. That’s foodie rule #1!
So, what do you think? Would you ever venture to try raw vegan cuisine? If you’re in Toronto, Live Organic Food Bar is located at 264 Dupont Street. You can browse their full menu online here, or order delivery from Live, 7 days a week.
If you’re curious about raw veganism and would like to learn more, go here. This chart illustrates the basics nicely.
No matter your eating habits, I hope you’re having a wonderful Saturday! xx