I have released four recipe books so far:

The Best of the Sunny Raw Kitchen
The Best of Raw Freedom Community
Delightfully Raw and
Deliciously Raw

These feature some of the most delectable creations to have come out of my raw kitchen and will appeal to anyone interested in a healthier diet, regardless of their level of knowledge and experience. From easy one-step everyday fare to more elaborate and involved gourmet dishes and layered cakes, they offer something for everyone and every occasion. Incredibly tasty smoothies, creamy and comforting warm soups, sexy salads, delicious nut cheezes, satisfying entrees and scrumptious guilt-free desserts...

Healthy food never tasted so good!

To learn more about my recipe books, click here!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sunny Raw Kitchen Tour Adventures - Florida Part I

It was chilly and rainy the morning that we left South Carolina and continued further south, but by the time we arrived in Florida, the sun was out to welcome us. (Yah baby!) As we drove, we could distinctively feel the change of temperature; we went from having the heater running to the air conditioner! Throughout the day, I peeled off four layers if you can believe it! lol

Wet Happens
First thing we did once we reached the sunshine state was drop by the visitor’s center in order to stock up on maps and other Florida paraphernalia. As we were locking the car, a man walked towards us. He said he'd been following us on the highway and noticed that the lids of our containers were flapping in the wind. Oh-oh! NOT good! We’d hit a mega rainstorm in Georgia (Don doesn't remember seeing rain falling so hard!), so we thought we better check if anything got wet. Sure enough, some water had sneaked into two of the bins. Nothing catastrophic though, as the clothes bin had thankfully remained sealed. Phfew! All our books managed to remain dry, except for one recipe book I hardly ever use anyways. No biggie. Boy, were we ever glad that the man ‘happened’ to also stop at the visitor’s center and was able to let us know. Imagine opening the bins weeks or months later, not to mention after the hot and humid Florida weather! Yikes!

Amazingly for us, we were going to be in the vicinity of not one but two raw cafés, so we decided we were up for a treat. (Woo hoo!) After a quick online check (what would I do without our laptop!?!), I discovered that the Present Moment Café in St-Augustine wasn’t open that day, so that pretty much solved it. We (very gladly!) hopped off I-95 in Jacksonville and made our way towards Atlantic Beach to the lovely Shakti Life Kitchen. I'd heard about this place via my friend Eva who recently taught a series of raw food prep classes there. I was actually hoping to bump into her as she's also been replacing someone on leave in their kitchen. Sadly, Eva wasn't around. In fact, as we walked in they were getting ready to close shop, but after telling them how far we’d come they kindly offered to prep something for us. Yay! The food was delightful! I love LOVE their wraps; pliable yet sturdy. They reminded me of the Soft Veggie Wraps but with whole flax seeds in them. On the staff's recommendation, we had...

Buckwheat Bean Burrito:
A Shakti Classic. Sprouted Buckwheat Beans, Sunflower Seed Cream Cheese, Fresh Greens, Tomato, and Sweet Onion rolled in a Fiesta Spinach Pepper Wrap.

"Don't have a Cow" 3 Cheese Sandwich:

Layers of Pumpkin Seed Cheese, Cashew Cheese, and Chipotle Pepper Cheese are stacked with Fresh Greens, Sweet Onion, Cucumber, and Sprouts on Stunning Spinach Pitas. (My personal favorite!)

Both platters came with Fiesta Crackers which are like THE best flax crackers I've ever had! If I remember the ingredients correctly, they were made with flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sundried tomatoes, fresh cilantro, sea salt, lemon juice and LOTS of garlic.

For dessert, we had Cinnamon Rolls with Whipped Cream, left over from their brunch menu. To live for!!!

In Florida's Jungle
We spent that night at Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park which was conveniently located in Mayport, just a few miles north of Atlantic Beach. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous; a mixture of palm trees and live oaks with big streamers of moss hanging from them. So magical! We considered staying for another day or two, but as we soon found out, we were camped next to a rather loud family (to put it mildly) which definitely was a turn off. Still, we’d like to spend more time there when we'll return to the area.

Our new tent as the old one was pretty much toast after last summer's deluge. It has a bit of a funky shape, doesn't it?

There are several trails that you can hike around the park which we were looking forward to exploring the next morning. It was Kyky's first walk ever among palm trees and live oaks.

Come to think of it, ours too! lol

Saw palmetto, a renowned natural remedy for prostate related conditions.

Melbourne Goes Raw
Our next stop was Melbourne, about 3 hours south of Jacksonville. There seemed to be a lot of energy drawing us to that area. For one thing, we'd been invited to stay with Stephanie who works at yet another brand new raw venture called Happy Healthy Human. (I swear they're growing like mushrooms! Yay!)

HHH is her friend Jason's baby; he'd been selling weekly organic food boxes out of his living room for a while and decided to expand. They like to think of Happy Healthy Human as a community life center as opposed to only a restaurant. Besides offering freshly made food, smoothies and wheat grass juices, their intention is to be a resource of education, support and empowerment, trying to send positive energy out into the community and encouraging people to be responsible for their own health. Some of the envisioned activities that HHH will offer include guest speakers/teachers, catered events, yoga classes and live music, kombucha and dessert nights. Sounds promising to me!

Since Steph was working when we arrived in town, we went straight to the center/café. It felt as if we'd walked in among a bunch of friends! Everyone was so vibrant and welcoming!

Carmi & Steph; glad to finally meet!

Steph harvesting wheat grass. Notice the cute little girl in the background?


Danielle, Jason and Steph lovingly whipping up some yummy food in the kitchen.

The delicious platter Jason prepared for us to munch on: Onion Bread Sandwich on a gigantic bed of mixed greens, heaps of home grown sprouts, coleslaw, flax cracker, kale chips with an awesome hemp dressing. I love Jason's emphasis on fresh ingredients rather than the dehydrated goodies.

After giving a hand at the Happy Healthy Human on their crazy busy food box day, we stopped for a short walk at a nearby park. Kylo went for a little dip... Ahhhhh, so refreshing! Except that we later found out that there were alligators in the lake!!! Eeek!

Time To Rest
Stephanie lives in a cozy old style home with a nice big backyard. Predictably, the latter became our favorite place to hang out in the sun. ;-) There's even a grapefruit tree, some of the harvest from which we enjoyed in our daily juices and smoothies.

Steph was working a lot of the time so we had the house pretty much to ourselves. We took the opportunity to go into complete recovery mode; hitting the hay super early, not doing much, laying in the sun, even not preparing anything too fancy in terms of food. Just taking it reeeeeeeal easy!

Failed Experiment
On the day of our arrival at Steph's, I brewed a couple of batches of kombucha tea as we'd run out some time back. If you're a kombucha drinker, then you know how much you miss the stuff when it's not around! Since it looked like we were going to be there for at least 10 days and the weather was super warm, I figured I could take my chances. I didn't have quite enough cane sugar, but after doing some research, I decided to use some sucanat sugar as well. I've never seen the scoby grow so fast! Within a week's time, it had developed a new layer of almost half an inch!!! Unfortunately, the tea itself didn't taste right so I ended up throwing the whole thing out. (Boo hoo!) I strongly suspect that the sucanat was the culprit as everything else I did the same as always. Live and learn, eh?

Stephanie shares her home with several cats. It was so neat to watch them interact, especially since our Puss is such a loner and doesn't really get along with other felines. Sometimes we think that she must consider herself human or something. Meet Steph's furry buddies...



and Marley

All super stressed, as you can see. ;-) They were very very curious about what was laying on the other side of the bedroom door where we and Puss slept. I had actually taken a photo of all three of them staring at the closed door (soooooo funny!), but then somehow it got erased. *scratching her head*

When you live with animals sometimes you can stumble upon the cutest moments. I couldn't resist capturing some of those on camera while at Steph's.

The boys chilling.

Steph & Don had company as they were talking at the dinner table one night.

A few sweet cuddling pics...

Rocko, the Sphinx, found a cozy spot.

Speaking of Rocko, the little guy is completely obsessed with tomato. We discovered his passion the hard way when we left tomatoes on the counter overnight. As soon as you'd start prepping tomatoes, Rocko would come running over! lol

A very attentive audience...

One day while having dinner, Rocko was nonchalantly lounging on the place mat close to mine. His paw started to inch closer and closer. Next thing you knew, he was diving into my plate in search of the precious red candy! It was beyond ha-la-rious! hehe I personally thought it was so cute, I didn't have the heart to scold him. ;-)

A Thrift Lover's Heaven
The last few years, Don and I have been buying most of our clothes used. I mean, there's just soooooo much in circulation already and the things you can find!!! As we were both needing some summer clothes for the beautiful Florida weather, I asked Steph about thrift stores. "Oh, you're going thrifting!" she goes to me. (Hehe... "Thrifting", I like that!) Little did I know... Melbourne almost has one on every block! I've never seen so many thrift stores in my life! We found four of them on the main little downtown stretch alone! I find that used clothes seem to be considerably cheaper than in Canada. Good thing I don't live here is all I can say! lol One store we went in had a room full of clothes at 50 cents a piece. Wow, definitely my kind of place! We totally scored that day; a whole new wardrobe for under $6!!! Woo hoo

Family Reunion
Another pull towards Melbourne was the fact that our dear friends, Lisa and her family from Ithaca, happened to be visiting relatives in the area during the Thanksgiving holidays. What are the odds of that!?! In fact, they were even staying at a small mom & pop's motel by the beach where Stephanie used to work! I mean, come on, isn't it incredible?

As you know, holidays can be a crazy time, so we only had a short visit. Still, we were happy to get a chance to see them again, even if not for long... We hung out on the beach below the motel while the kids got to splash in the ocean and make sandcastles one last time before returning home.

As you can see, it's not easy to get little Gabe to stop for very long! lol He did take the time, though, to give us extra big smoochies when we parted. How sweet!

We'd brought along a decadent banana coconut pie creation that Holly in Tobaccoville had shared with us. So rich and oh-so-delicious!!!

HoneyMoon Torte
"There were some bananas that Don & Carmella had left behind so I created a raw dessert with them. Here is the recipe inspired by one beautiful Carmella!"

2 cups dry coconut, finely shredded
2 cups pecans, fine meal
¼ cup coconut oil
3 bananas
¼ cup raw honey, or dates
½ tsp himalayen salt

Place coconut and pecans in blender, blend until fine. Place in bowl.

Blend bananas, coconut oil, honey or dates, and salt. Blend until smooth.

Slowly add the liquid mixture to dry mixture and stir until combined. There will be about a 1/4 cup of liquid mixture left over. Reserve for Filling.

Press crust into spring form pan, 9 inch, or regular round cake pan.

1 cup cashews
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup coconut oil
2 tbs raw honey
½ tsp himalayen salt

Blend cashews until fine. Scrape down sides.

Add reserved liquid mixture, vanilla, coconut oil, honey and salt. Blend until smooth.

Pour filling over crust. Freeze for at least three hours. Can then be put in the refrigerator.

To Serve:
Drizzle with honey or agave, if so desired.

Carmella's Notes:
~ I used only 3 cups of nuts total in the crust as I preferred to keep it on the lighter side. As a result, I had an extra cup of liquid mixture which I simply added to the Filling. It still worked beautifully!

~ I used dates as sweetener for the entire recipe.

~ I used less salt than Holly calls for, probably 1/4 tsp in the crust and 1/4 tsp in the filling.

~ I served the pie with a few banana slices and Heathy's amazing Chocolate Sauce. Heavenly!

Definitely something to be grateful for... ;-)

Hum, not a bad note to end this post on... Stay tuned for the rest of my account of our time in Melbourne!


  1. Carmella - wonderful! Keep those beautiful posts coming! Also, I find it so interesting that people are naming their pets Marley (my name - although I spell it Marlie) :-) Too cute!

  2. I'm not sure where I came across your blog, but it's been in my favorites for awhile. Funny that I should happen upon it today, because you all just visited my neighborhood! I live about 5 minutes from Shakti and Hanna Park (although in the process of moving from here all the way to Whidbey Island, Washington). I also have a friend who lives in Melbourne. Isn't it a small world?

  3. I always love your blog! It's a real highlight for me. Thanks for taking the time to post!!

  4. Thanks girls for your kind words. ;-)


    Whidbey Island eh? I did my very first Vipassana meditation course there!!!

    We're actually making our way BACK to Jax in the next day or two. See if it's in the cards that our paths cross. ;-)

  5. I live in Melbourne and just started my blog today:
    Thank you for the receipes!

  6. just wondering about those cinnamon buns, are they really raw?? if so how in the world do you make them??
    i love your blog it is so inspiring with all the lovely recipes and wonderous pictures! keep up the beautiful work!

  7. Yep, those amazing cinnamon rolls are raw! I've made very similar ones from Cafe Gratitude's wonderful recipe books so I suspect that they've used a very similar recipe. The base is almond flour (left over from almond milk) which helps make the batter light.

  8. I was just thinking that I was in the mood to whip up a raw dessert but didn't know what I could do without making a special trip to the store. I was catching up on your blog/journey and happened upon the yummy banana torte. Perfect! I'm hoping to meet you when you head over to Seattle. Good luck in all the travels!

  9. Thanks carmella i will look into those books!