Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I'll have The Works, please

Yes, I am a vegan. Yes, I am a raw foodist. Yes, I am a lover of optimal health. But I am also a lover of food. And as I implied in my last post, I am also someone who supports "omnivores who make good choices," in other words, those who may still have a desire (for whatever reason) to eat meat, but do so in an ethical, conscious, and informed manner. (Obviously, I support them even more if they keep their meat eating to a minimum, for obvious environmental and health reasons!) To all you conscious omnivores, I say kudos to you. I'd much rather have you eat a diet of organic free-range bison and whole fruits, veggies, and grains, than being a vegan who eats processed squeaky meat and sugar-coma inducing cupcakes.

Once again, my sister was up for a visit this week and I took it as an opportunity to go to a place I would have never stepped into were it not for an Ottawa foodie adventure with a meat eater. We went to The Works. In short, the Works is a local burger chain that has what seems to be five thousand burger options. From very gourmet toppings, like brie and pear, to the truly weird, like Kraft Dinner and peanut butter (not together, thankfully). The reason I was up for going there was because not only did I hear they made a great sustainable meat burger (organic beef or local elk), I also heard they had vegan options in the form of both a veggie burger or a portobello mushroom cap.

The result? I'm in love. First off, I adored the decor in this place, it was all pipes, and knobs, and dials, yellow light bulbs, and wood meets metal... a steampunk's wet dream really. On top of that, they served water in pyrex measuring cups which I thought was just about the coolest thing ever (that and the light bulb salt & pepper shakers):

Secondly, please consider that I have not eaten what would be seen as such a "cooked" meal in probably about a year or so. Also consider that I had absolutely NO regrets doing this, and that this is in no way some kind of indication that I've turned back to "the dark side". I've come to realize that 90% of how you react to food is not what it actually is but how you feel about it. If you think "wow, this is SO fattening," odds are you'll gain weight from it, but if you were to think "what a beautiful, lovingly made meal," odds are you'll be filled with happy rather than a food baby in your stomach. So enjoying something with your sister or a friend or whoever, every once in a while, is just a choice you make, not some kind of end of the world scenario.

My sister tried the local elk, caramelized onion, brie, and pear combo I mentioned earlier and said it was delish. I forwent the "veggie burger" (which the waitress very kindly showed me the ingredients to, and as glad as I am that it's there for some people, man, was it filled with "stuff," again proof that vegans can eat a lot of processed crap too) and instead choose the portobello burger on whole wheat. I topped it with their "Avril's Avocado Avalanche" option and a side salad with no dressing. It was amazing: on top of my bello, they added fresh avocado, grilled eggplant, salsa, and I asked to hold the cheese and add red pepper. It was melty goodness in my mouth:

In fact, it was so good that I had to come home and recreate a raw version. As always, gotta say, it was just as fantastic as the real deal! I made Alissa Cohen's burger buns, marinated my bellos in my usual marinated (EVOO, apple cider vinegar, Bragg's, and raw honey), and topped off that beauty with lettuce, avocado, and tomato slices. This was my version, served with a lovely mixed green and edible flowers side salad: Yum yum yum...

That's another reason why I love going into the non-raw food world every once in a while... you come back with all sorts of amazing, convertible ideas!

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