In the Kitchen: Rawlicious
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Can you recall the last time a meal made you happy? Not “comfortably full” happy, but “life is good,” warms-your-soul happy? Trevor Dennehy, owner of Rawlicious restaurant in downtown Markham, believes his raw vegan menu offerings can do just that. He's seen it happen.
“I have had western-style eaters – men – come in with women. When they finish eating, they say they feel happy,” he says. “They are not used to feeling happy. Normally they just feel full. But now they feel energized.”
If you think this is the ludicrous claim of a health nut trying to turn us all vegan, you might be surprised to know that Dennehy isn't a vegan or even a vegetarian. Rather he's a sometimes meat-eater and former greasy spoon owner who has seen the health benefits a change in diet can provide.
In 2011, he and his wife completed a nutritional counselling course at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Toronto. The Australian-born Dennehy had been in hospitality for most of his life, running a restaurant in Oshawa from 2003 to 2007.
In a quest to find suitable restaurant fare for his wife, who is a vegetarian, the couple started visiting Rawlicious Markham after it opened three years ago. “We loved the food,” says Dennehy. “We started becoming regulars here.”
At the time, the restaurant was owned by Rawlicious founders Angus Crawford and Chelsea Clark. Impressed by the eatery's menu and philosophy, Dennehy approached the pair about opening a franchise in 2013. They suggested he take over the Markham location instead.
“I jumped at the chance to purchase an established restaurant, instead of building from new,” says Dennehy. “Downtown Markham is a beautiful area and so active. I recognized the potential in such a great area. It has a community vibe with lots of events on Main Street.” With several condo buildings going up in the area at the time, Dennehy says there was a sense that the place was about to boom.
Then there was the food.
“When I discovered how good the food tasted, it's a bonus that it's healthy,” he says. “I don't expect everyone to become raw vegan after they walk through the door, but this is one thing they can add to their repertoire. They'll know when they eat here that it's a good thing for them and it tastes good.”
Recognizing that many people today have dietary restrictions, the Rawlicious menu is gluten free, dairy free and free of refined sugars, in addition to being free of all animal products. The produce is organic and the food is sweetened with natural sweeteners, such as maple syrup, agave nectar and dates. Quality protein comes in the form of high nut and seed content in many entrées. Hemp protein and brown rice protein may be added to smoothies.
Aside from hot soup in winter and tea and coffee all year, the menu offerings are raw.
“Technically that doesn't mean it isn't cooked,” Dennehy notes. Some of the ingredients are prepared using a dehydrator, which heats foods at 118 Fahrenheit. “That's the magic number,” he says. “It's like a hot day. Fruits and vegetables are made to withstand that environment.”
Why raw? “In nature, fruits and veggies grow with enzymes,” says Dennehy. “When you cook things, you start to denature them. Enzymes are the easiest thing to damage. The average human body is designed to break the food down and remove it in 24 hours. Cooking destroys enzymes that help you digest food efficiently.”
Since purchasing Rawlicious, Dennehy has made raw vegan food a large part of his diet and has seen significant changes in his wellness. Previously he had worked at a fast food restaurant, regularly reaching for burgers and other fast food options.
“I was starting to get arthritis in my fingers,” he says. “Ever since I've been at Rawlicious, my general health has increased, but specifically the arthritis in the fingers I haven't had at all. That was a real eye-opener. It cleared up right away.”
Popular menu options such as the tropical green smoothie (a blend of banana, mango, pineapple and spinach) keep customers coming back for more. Pad Thai— zucchini and kelp noodles with veggies and a tangy sauce—is the restaurant's most popular entrée. For dessert, customers can choose from options such as coconut banana cream pie and blonde macaroons.
“The biggest problem in our society today is not what people are eating, it's what they're not eating,” says Dennehy. “We need to get in the nutrients we need to cope with the damage that other less healthy foods are causing to the body. There is a balance that will still see you thrive.”


Rawlicious Pizza

Pizza Crust
Ingredients
3 large carrots, shredded
750 mL (3 cups) sprouted buckwheat
375 mL (1 1/2 cups) whole golden flax
125 mL (1/2 cup) extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 mL (1 tsp) sea salt
5 mL (1 tsp) dried rosemary
5 mL (1 tsp) dried oregano

Method
Two to three days before, soak 500 mL (2 cups) of buckwheat in warm filtered water for 30 minutes. Drain through mesh basket and leave in the basket to sprout, rinsing in filtered water morning and night until sprouts appear. This will give 750 mL (3 cups) sprouted buckwheat.
Two hours before, soak flax in 750 mL (3 cups) of filtered water. Do not drain.
Line 3 dehydrator trays with non-stick sheets.
Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until combined.
Spread 750 mL (3 cups) of dough on each dehydrator tray. Using a spatula or your hands, spread the dough into a pizza crust shape.
Dehydrate for 12 hours. Flip, remove the non-stick sheet, and continue dehydrating for another 4 to 6 hours, until the crusts are firm but still soft to the touch.
Makes 3 crusts
Note: Dipping the spatula or your hands in water while spreading dough prevents it from sticking!

Cashew Cheese
Ingredients
160 mL (2/3 cup) cashews, soaked
7 mL (1-1/2 tsp) fresh lemon juice
1/2 clove garlic, chopped
7 mL (1-1/2 tsp) nutritional yeast
2 mL (1/2 tsp) sea salt
pinch ground black pepper
60 mL (1/4 cup) filtered water

Method
Place everything, except water, in a food processor and process until combined.
Add water and process until smooth.
Note: The amount of water needed will depend on how long the cashews have been soaking. Start with 60 mL (1/4 cup) and add more to desired consistency.
Makes 375 mL (1-1/2 cups)
•  Marinara Sauce  •
Ingredients
250 mL (1 cup) sun-dried tomatoes
4 large tomatoes, skin on
1/2 red bell pepper
60 mL (1/4 cup) red onion
60 mL (1/4 cup) fresh basil
15 m L (1 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
5 mL (1 tsp) dried oregano
2 mL (1/4 tsp) sea salt
2 mL (1/4 tsp) ground black pepper
2 mL (1/4 tsp) dried thyme

Method
Soak sun-dried tomatoes in filtered water for 2–3 hours. Drain and toss the soak water.
Quarter tomatoes and process in a food processor with the sun-dried tomatoes. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
Add remaining ingredients to food processor and process until well combined with some texture.
Add mixture to the bowl with tomatoes and mix well to combine.
Makes 500 mL (2 cups)

Pizza
Ingredients
1 pizza crust
250 mL (1 cup) cashew cheese
250 mL (1 cup) marinara sauce (or pesto)
60 mL (1/4 cup) pine nut parmesan
toppings such as bell peppers, mushrooms, olives, onion, tomatoes, zucchini
Method
Use a spatula to spread cashew cheese across pizza base, right to the edges.
Spread marinara sauce or pesto on top of the cheese. Top with your chosen veggie toppings.
Dehydrate directly on the mesh tray for 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on how soft you would like the toppings to be.
Sprinkle with pine nut parmesan before serving.
NOTES: Cashew cheese is easiest to spread at room temperature.
If you want to add a green leafy vegetable, like spinach, or an herb, like basil, it is best to do so right before you eat the pizza, and definitely after it has been in the dehydrator.

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