Raw Vegan Goodness: Rawlicious (Markham) by Steph Chiu
Raw Vegan Goodness: Rawlicious (Markham)
By Steph Chiu
Eating raw and/or vegan food is not just for devout followers of that particular lifestyle. I’ll admit that it can sound intimidating to some, but trust me when I say that there is something for everyone to try. Whether you go for one of the more traditional salad or venture to try a noodle-less bowl of “noodles”, there is sure to be something suitable for your comfort level. Don’t let the temperature of the food, or the misconception that all raw food is bland and unsatisfying, keep you away—I certainly had an excellent experience at my local Rawlicious joint!
But first, a little introduction into what it means to eat raw, and to eat vegan. Raw foodists forego all cooked foods, generally defined as foods heated above approximately 116 degrees Fahrenheit, hence eating only “raw” food. Vegans, on the other hand, eat only plant foods, but can eat cooked foods such as vegetables. (Note that being vegan is not the same as being vegetarian—a common confusion—as vegetarians simply abstain from meat but can consume other animal by-products like eggs and milk.)
Rawlicious is a franchise of restaurants whose mission is to “help you feel good about what you eat”. There are currently 8 different locations: in Barrie, Guelph, Kitchener, Markham, Newmarket, Toronto (2), and Whitby. I visited the Markham outpost for lunch, located along the historic Main Street Markham (Markham Rd/Hwy 7).
I went inside and instantly felt like I was walking into someone’s home. There were a number of small tables with comfy chairs, as well as a sofa with a coffee table. Along the walls were a selection of canvas art paintings. The best part was being able to see the entire kitchen, which was very small since nothing is cooked and so not much is really needed. It was a very welcoming environment.
I was greeted right away by one of the two people working there, who let us pick a table (it was fairly empty inside) and gave me the menu. The unique thing about the menu at Rawlicious is that it is entirely free of wheat, gluten, meat, dairy, and refined sugar. (Note: You can view the entire menu online at rawlicious.ca.)
I selected the Tropical Green Smoothie (banana, mango, pineapple, spinach, and kale) and their most popular dish, the “Pad Thai” (zucchini and kelp noodles, shredded romaine lettuce, carrots, and bell peppers, topped with green onions and cashews) served with a tangy Thai dressing on the side. Just look at all those colors!
The drink was quite sweet and thick from the banana, but I could certainly taste hints of the spinach and kale. I could not stop sipping – it was so deliciously addictive! If you’ve never tried a “green” drink before and are hesitant to go completely green, opt for a drink that incorporates some fruits – you won’t even taste the greens!
I was also very excited to try a raw, vegan take on Pad Thai, one of my favourite Asian dishes, and it did not disappoint. Rawlicious uses a spiralizer (which they also have for sale) to churn out the zucchini “noodles”. I loved the combination of zucchini and kelp as “noodles”, as well as all the different vegetables, each of which added a unique crunch. The best part was the creamy cashew-based dressing, though, which really elevated the dish from good to excellent – I’ll admit that I used a bit more dressing than I intended to!
I had planned on trying one of their delicious desserts—completely free of refined sugars—but I had no room left after my very satisfying meal. This will definitely be something to try on a future trip. I did, however, venture over to glance at the display case of their offerings, which included cookies, brownies, key lime tart, and cheesecake. You might be wondering if raw/vegan dessert tastes any good without refined sugars… well, although I didn’t have any on this trip, I’ve tried these types of desserts before, and let me tell you that you would definitely be fooled! Nuts, dates, and coconut are common ingredients used in raw/vegan desserts, and they taste just as good but without all that refined junk. Plus, you’ll feel great after eating it!
I hope I’ve convinced some of you to give raw vegan food a try by visiting Rawlicious. While I could never adopt this lifestyle of eating religiously myself, I certainly wouldn’t mind eating here every so often and I would encourage you all to experience it for yourselves. I’d also like to add that the service was phenomenal – I felt like someone in my family was preparing our meal and taking care of us! This was the cherry on top of an amazing dining experience.