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Veg-friendly Tacoma: Caffe Dei offers raw food for vegans, and classes, too

Post by Sue Kidd / The News Tribune on Aug. 26, 2011 at 8:55 am | No Comments »
August 26, 2011 2:35 pm

Since June 2010, Caffe Dei has catered to vegan eaters, and more recently the Sixth Avenue coffee house began introducing raw foods to Tacoma diners. What do I mean by the term “raw foods?” Well the no-brainer answer is uncooked eats, but delve deeper and the food mantra is meandering, but the edict remains the same: food that is uncooked, or barely cooked at very low temperatures, to preserve enzymes and other nutritional benefits that raw eaters say are lost when food is cooked.

Shuanna Holt, who co-owns Caffe Dei on Sixth Avenue with partner Shane Siegfried, has eaten raw for five years, and vegan for 10. She’s acted as a personal raw and vegan chef for the last two and also is the culinary force behind Caffe Dei’s raw foods, which can include anything from nachos and taco salads to sweet corn chowder to raw cheesecakes and chocolate macaroons. Specials change frequently. The café also prepares a wide range of vegan eats that are cooked, too: vegan sausage breakfast sandwiches, a tasty vegan Reuben and a variety of other sandwiches.

I email interviewed Holt about her raw menu and philosophy. Read on:

Q: What’s your background as a vegan and raw chef?

A: I have been a personal vegan and raw vegan chef for approximately two years. I work with people from all walks of life and all different motives. Either for mental health benefits, slimming benefits, chronic disease benefits etc. Currently I am personally working with (a) professional world champion (multiple times over) dancer who is looking to get back into competitive status so she is looking for energy, health and slimming. I am … excited to take on this opportunity. I have also worked with stay-at-home moms who need the mental health benefit as well as the regaining figure benefit.

I have worked (on) an ongoing case with someone who has an eating disorder as this lifestyle is commonly used to treat such illnesses. It reconnects them with food but in a very healthy… and light fashion. People come to me for all different reasons and I cant help them all of the time but I am full of resources and always know where to send them. I prefer to work with people who are serious about looking for a lifestyle change, as it can be frustrating working with someone who is not very serious and is looking for a quick fix to drop a couple pounds.

Q: How do you characterize the raw diet?

A: I try to characterize this lifestyle (I never say diet :) ) as loosely as possible. Think of it as a giant umbrella with lots of little mini lifestyles under it. Some people follow the 80/10/10 raw lifestyle by Dr. Doug Graham where it is very controlled and a bit strict (in my opinion), some people follow a gourmet approach where they are eating these elaborate complicated dishes that tend to be full of oils, seeds, nuts and fats while some go as far as becoming fruitarians.

Much like the debate to eat meat or not… my approach is ‘experiment until you find what makes you feel good’ because that’s the most important thing….. feeling good. If you don’t feel good what are you doing? How are you living if you’re not living well? Certainly not to your potential. If you feel good….. you’re a better mother, daughter, son, father, lover, worker, boss, friend etc. Sadly people are so disconnected to their food they don’t know what makes them feel good … or bad! They just know they are lethargic, cranky, short tempered or depressed. I don’t just make food for people…. I get them feeling good, about their life and themselves. Our customers here at the cafe are just getting their feet wet with raw foods and are looking for more information.

Q: How receptive are Tacoma diners to your raw menu?

A: … Raw foods is very new to Tacomans so most of it is educating, which is great for me cause I love to talk. I try to make it easy for people to implement dishes at home, as well, which is why I make tons of specialty sauces and dips on a per request basis to take home in bulk. I am hoping…. I can grab hold and expand upon our raw foods menu but that will require a lot more support and interest!

Q: Tell readers about the classes you’re teaching at your café and the ones you’ll be teaching at Marlene’s.

A: Currently the classes I offer at our shop are recipe based and I show people how to make recipes (even ones used in the shop) at home and how to plate them. We start classes every week at the shop as well as custom build classes for people who are looking to learn something specific. I will start teaching at Marlene’s Natural Market in September and I will discuss lifestyle benefits as well as recipes.

Since it is with Marlene’s and in larger class sizes the costs will be much more affordable. The benefit in taking classes at Caffe Dei is that more in-depth conversation and learning will take place. But the classes at Marlene’s is a great way to get your feet wet and see if this is a lifestyle that works for you. I was just thrilled that Marlene’s approached me about this. Once again, I love to talk about how great I feel and how great I know others can feel. I love how people in the South Sound can count on me as being a trusted and experienced resource for raw foods. It has been my personal lifestyle for five years now. Vegan for over 10. They know this isn’t a business gimmick or something I am in because they see profit. This is my personal lifestyle in which I have spent my entire adult life reading and learning as much as possible on.

Raw Revolution Class with Shuanna Holt
When: 6:30 p.m. Sept. 15
Where: Marlene’s
Register and more information here:

Caffe Dei
Where: 2607 Sixth Ave., Tacoma
Call: 253-572-2550

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