The more than 500 members of the Central Florida Raw Food Connection, including many from East Orlando, learn how to make raw dishes like kumquat cheesecake and no-bake vegan spaghetti and meatballs, ask questions about vitamin deficiencies and take field trips to events like mango festivals.
Raw is a diet consisting mostly of raw and foods cooked at temperatures no higher than 125 degrees (degrees vary from 105 to 125 depending on personal belief). The premise of the diet is that the living enzymes in raw food that help in digestion are damaged when the food is cooked.
Some reported benefits to the diet are increased energy and stamina, weight loss, and even relief from such afflictions as high blood pressure and cancer.
Olive Mackey’s diet consisted mostly of meat and potatoes. She even avoided lettuce and tomatoes on her cheeseburgers because she hated the way they slid off the bun. She regularly visited a chiropractor for achy muscles and a myriad of health issues including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, poor vision and dull hearing.
Seven years ago she attended a lecture on the 10 most deadly foods — all of which were featured stars in Mackey’s diet. She was determined to change.
In searching for the best diet, she stumbled upon raw foods. She tried the diet for 30 days, during which time her body underwent an intense transformation. She shed 20 pounds — 117 overall since adopting the diet — was able to stop taking her high blood pressure medication, strengthened her hearing and vision, and had a ton of energy. She remembers the “fabulous” taste of cooked food, but said the health benefits of raw food far outweigh the flavors lost. “I thought raw food was only salad. I could not imagine what else there was,” she said. The goal is to make it tasty, said Joe Diaz, owner of Café 118, a Winter Park restaurant that does not cook food over 118 degrees. The restaurant’s concept is to make raw food available and appealing to all walks of life — herbivores and carnivores, alike. He hopes to make raw food the next sushi craze.
“Years ago a lot of people did not eat at sushi restaurants because it was just a slab of fish on your plate,” he said. He found a way to make raw more appealing to the average consumer, successfully luring in all kinds of people with dishes like vegetable lasagna, zucchini and carrot noodle pad Thai, and nut-based mint-chocolate chip “ice cream.”
My brother and I had a great night at Cafe118. We drove 2.5 hrs to check it out and got more than we expected. The cafe is a little hidden in downtown Winter Park. The atmosphere is very modern and clean. The waitress sits us down and we start with drinks. The raspberry lemonade is a sweet and sour concoction of fresh ripe raspberry juice in a base of lemonade sweetened with agave. A perfect drink to start a meal. We also tried the Tropical mint (pineapple, young coconut, agave and mint) which was very refreshing. Everything looked so good on the menu so we tried almost everything they had. The basil wrappers were divine. The wrappers were made with coconut meat flavored with basil and the other with sun dried tomatoes then dehydrated. This made them very pliable, Inside the wrappers was a very smooth cheese made out of pine nuts and herbs.
Next up was the Spicy "Bean" Burrito with fresh salsa, guac, sour cream and queso blanco. This dish had the right amount of spice and was very flavor rich. The sour cream (cashews, pine nuts, sea salt) was very refreshing against the spicy blend of seeds in the burrito. The salsa and guac added depth and completed this dish. Very well done.
We also tried the avocado, mango and shitake maki rolls with raw soy sauce and pickled ginger. These rolls we incredible. One of the best dishes at the cafe we thought. It was pleasantly light and bursting with flavors. It has the right amount of spice and sweet in every bite. it was also very elegantly presented.The salads at the cafe are not to be passed up.
The mexican chopped salad was my favorite. It was a mixture of mixed greens, sweet corn, avocado, chili chips, fresh tomato and their popular queso blanco which I assume is just a mixture of red bell pepper, cashews or macadamia nuts and water. It was nicely seasoned and not laden with a lot of oils or avocado.
The arugala salad was very tasty as well. It tasted like a Caesar salad but the base was baby arugala, then tossed with hemp seeds, sun dried tomatoes and a parmesan crisp made from pine nuts.