Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Green Boheme - Raw is Good

The Green Boheme on Urbanspoon

Whenever I invited one of my omnivore foodie friends to go and try out raw food at The Green Boheme, I'd get a funny face and a "No, thanks." But I have a curiosity to try most food (except insects) and so I had been wanting to try The Green Boheme since it opened a few years ago. Now I don't have a fear of dining alone, but this was going to be a new experience, the kind you want to share with a companion.

Then last month I had been talking with Fox 40's Bethany Crouch. She had been doing Green Boheme's 30 Day Raw Challenge and was loving it. Last month she had set up a vegan/raw meal at The Plum Cafe and this month she set up a raw dinner at Green Boheme. Here was my perfect opportunity.

I knew the place was on Del Paso Boulevard, but had never seen it. No wonder. You can blink and totally miss it. There are no large signs and the neighbors aren't exactly shady, but not something to catch your eye either. The place was filling up and was eventually completely full - sold out. 


The server immediately approached me with a shot glass of green juice. Made mostly of leafy greans and packed full of nutrients, the green juice is an essential component of a raw food lifestyle. This one was bright green and quite palatable. Sometimes I have mostly leafy green juices and they are on the bitter side. 

In the corner was my friend, Joey, who is the owner of Kombucha Kulture. You'll often see him with his converted horse trailer that now serves as a kombucha bar with about nine varieties on tap. Another part of his business is going around to bars, coffee shops, and eateries and installing them with draft kombucha dispensers, just like beer. I got a glass of my current favorite flavor they are distributing: grapefruit sage. 

We sat down for the first two dishes while owner Brooke Preston told her story, a very interesting one. Brooke had been training for body-building and consuming a very high protein diet while doing so. Soon she developed a thyroid condition and other health issues and instead of turning to medications, she went totally into a raw food diet to clean out and restart her body. She went whole hog into it and when I asked her how long it took before the light bulb "I'm never turning back" light went on, she said, "two weeks and I was sold". 



Brooke went to the only raw food culinary school in the country in Fort Bragg. Since then she's created most of her own recipes. She was asked about a cookbook, but says she can't think about putting one together because she doesn't really write things down. Each time the recipe is tweaked a little so that it's never the same.


Brooke's enthusiasm and passion is contagious. I could relate to her as I often get that worked up and excited to talk to people about food trucks. Here she was educating and informing us in a fashion that wasn't preachy or dull. Instead you got excited as well, especially as you were tasting this fantastic raw food at the same time. 

The basics of vegan raw food diets are that nothing is ever brought up higher than 116 degrees. Cooking destroys vital enzymes and nutrients. But that doesn't mean they can't make "baked" goods. Instead they use dehydrators and other methods to create foods that are similar to cooked versions. After one gets used to the bright flavors of fresh, raw foods, cooked foods will begin to taste flat and "dead" in comparison. Your body adjusts so that it no longer desires non-vegan and processed foods.

Brooke also doesn't include soy, grains, or beans in her diet. Soy is excluded because it is an estrogen producer and sometimes leads to thyroid disfunction. Beans are out because they aren't really digestible in a raw state. 

Here you see nuts and seeds being soaked. Brooke explains that they have tannins that naturally protect the seeds so that they will sprout in the right season - spring, after the rains. Water washes the tannins away, allowing the nuts to then sprout. She talks about digestion and how 30% of our energy is used just to consume food. Fat is the slowest thing to digest and so that's why we are often tired and experiencing food comas after large, fat laden meals. You want the nuts and seeds to sprout because sprouting will reduce the fat content in them by half while releasing other nutrients. 




The first dish that came out was my favorite of the night - nachos. The chips were made of ground corn and flax seed that had been hardened into chips in the dehydrator. It was served with a Mexican rice made from jicama, sunflower seed "bean" paste, and a nut cheese, drizzled with a sour "creme", salsa verde, and chili sauce. Although the textures are a little different, the flavors were fresher and just as tasty as a 7 layer dip you had at your last potluck. 


Next was pesto pizza bites with a gluten-free nut, seed, veggie crust. It was topped with a mac-cashew feta, fresh pizza sauce, seasonal pesto, olives, tomato, and a raw version "parmesan". This was also bright and delicious as you can't miss with a great pesto. The most unusual part was the cold, soft crust. But it held together and, unlike normal crust, didn't just act as serving instrument, but as a flavor component. 



Brooke created the coconut dahl because it was a substitution for the cooked version she loved and missed. This dahl is made with peas, fresh coconut, served over a mock "brown rice" with the sour "creme", avocado, spices and green onion. 


The most surprising was her "bacon" sliders. The bacon is dried, smoke flavored slices of zucchini. The patty was made from sunflower seeds and veggies. It was topped with sprouts, tomato, crisp onion rings, housemade ketchup, cashew mayo, and mustard. It was eaten with lettuce serving as the bun. The oddest thing here is that it's cold and you are used to a nice, hot burger.



The zucchini pasta marinara was nothing new to me. I've made zucchini pasta myself and marinara is easy enough. The only new thing on this for me was the mac-cashew "parmesan" cheese.



The desserts were both power-punch filled with flavor. The first is the chocolate hazelnut butter cups made with raw cacao, coconut sugar, vanilla bean and housemade hazelnut butter. It was set hard, just like a thick chocolate cup with a small filling of the hazelnut. The cacao flavor was deep and intense. Even more intense, though, was the Lemon Cheezecake Bites. The lemon was so strong and fresh that it was like I was biting into one of the lemons off my backyard tree. The cheezecake was made from cashew, coconut, lemon juice and vanilla on a an almond date crust. The only thing was that it was a loose "cheesecake", not really "set" like normal cheesecake would be. But who cares when the flavor was so powerful?
  
The Green Boheme offers a lot of raw food trial plans. You can get all the meals you need for a week of raw eating starting at $119 a week. Prices go up for the addition of juices, smoothies, etc. If you do a month's worth, there is a discount. This is what Bethany Crouch had done. She did the whole 30 Day Challenge with everything included. It's changed how she eats and she's feeling healthier. Now when she eats meat she sort of regrets it the next day as her body and digestion has changed. 

I'm considering doing a week of meals. If I do, I'll report it. After trying the dinner I think the biggest thing to get used to would be to eating cold food all the time. 


Green Boheme is open for weekday lunches and Sunday dinner. Closed Saturdays.
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