It is DAY 4 of "Raw Food Recipes with Excalibur", and today I am thrilled to feature one of my favourite men in the raw foods world -- Ron Russell, owner and head chef of my local raw foods restaurant, Sun Cafe, in L.A. 

Ron, a devout vegetarian for over 35 years, who became a cher during his college years, has been dedicated to creating healthier versions of traditional classics, and developing unique dishes of his own inspiration for years! Twelve years ago, Ron became interested in raw foods after hearing a lecture by David Wolfe, and since then has been a passionate raw foodist, developing hundreds of fabulous recipes, and building up a thriving raw foods restaurant, Sun Cafe, with chef Roi Elam.

To call this my "local haunt" would be an understatement. I am there every week, and practically live there! Those of you in the raw food community would be aware of L.A's reputation for being a raw foods Mecca, and Sun Cafe is one of the most celebrated and well patronized raw foods establishments in the city. 

Not only is the food INCREDIBLE, and Ron and his staff incredibly gentle and attentive, but it is also quite the celebrity hang out! I am always seeing a Who's Who of Hollywood eating at tables around me. Nobody really bats an eyelid -- it is just par for the course at this understated cafe. Besides, at Sun it is all about the food. Ron just wants people to eat healthy food, and he strives to appeal to people in every stage of their raw foods journey.

There is something for everyone on this menu, whether you are a hard-core raw foodist, somebody who enjoys healthy fresh food, or a raw food skeptic that thinks you won't be able to eat anything. Trust me, if the raw nachos with sunflower chorizo, raw vegan pad Thai, raw pesto pizza, or raw cookie dough pie don't tickle your fancy, perhaps their famous sweet kale shake, which was voted "Best Smoothie in L.A" by Serious Eats will be enough to convert you to the wonders of live foods. 

The first time I tasted that shake, I thought I had died and gone to Piggy Heaven! Oh My... it was seriously the most incredible smoothie I had ever tasted in my entire life. Take one look around the restaurant on any given day and you will see this miraculous green concoction on every second table like a secret society of green smoothie addicts who have found Nirvana. Thousands come back to this restaurant just for the kale shake alone. In fact, most days, a few people dash in with their car keys in hand to pick one up to get their fix! It is a shared addiction in the Studio City community. That, and the raw vegan Kind Kreme ice cream parlour next door. 

It was this famous smoothie that inspired the "Pistachio Ice Cream" Kale Shake recipe that gets more hits than other recipe on this site. As soon as I tasted Ron's kale shake that tasted like melted pistachio ice cream, I flew home to recreate this magical creation. I threw some ingredients in my Vitamix and hit the jackpot first go! It is not Ron's secret recipe, but is pretty darn close. For those of you who do not live in L.A, try this incredible smoothie and you will see why people are lining up out the door to be seated at this little place, and why it was voted voted #1 Raw Restaurant in Los Angeles by Best Of Raw Foods, and named in the Top 10 Los Angeles Restaurants for Lunch by Open Table.

This raw vegan cheesy vegetable casserole is a fantastic example of Ron's ability to make raw food that appeals to a mainstream audience. I love this recipe because it is technically raw, having not been heated above 115 degrees, but has the taste and texture of a cooked dish. This recipe is a fantastic example of how you can utlitize your Excalibur Dehydrator to soften and prepare foods in a couple of hours.

Just a note about this recipe: if you don't want to take the time to make the onion rings (they do take about fourteen hours to get crispy) this dish tastes fantastic without them, and you can be enjoying this dish in under two hours. You can also enjoy the quick vegan "chez" recipe over raw vegetables for a great snack idea too! YUMMO! This recipe is absolutely SCRUMPTIOUS. I served it at a dinner party last weekend to some very happy omnivores, and the vote was unanimous: this recipe is a WINNER! 

For those of you who are gluten free, please note: Regular Nama Shoyu is NOT gluten free. This is made from cultured soybeans and wheat. You can get wheat-free nama shoyu now. If you can't find it, use the coconut aminos, which 100% organic, vegan, raw, live, gluten free, soy free, and is LOADED with seventeen naturally ocurring amino acids. This is wonder food, and a lifesaver for raw foodists and people living a soy free diet. It is the closest thing you are going to get to conventional soy sauce. 

If you want to learn some more tips from Ron, he teaches fantastic raw foods cooking classes every Saturday at 9AM for $20! That is a BARGAIN. The recipes change every week, and these can be found on the Sun Cafe website the Monday before each class. Sun Cafe offers catering and deliverymeal box options, and detox cleanses where fresh raw juices are prepared and boxed up for you to pick up every morning. 

Ron has recently taken over the Plum Cafe Bakery in Sacramento, California, and will no doubt turn that vegan restaurant into the toast of the town too! 

Ron also enjoys other creative endeavors as an artist, composer and author. His WWII mafia novel, DON CARINA: WWII MAFIA HEROINE is already receiving critical acclaim, and will be published in the fall of 2012. Advanced copies are available on Amazon. There is even talk of a mini-series! 

Ron, you are one of the kindest, most generous people I have met in the raw food community in L.A. Thankyou for so graciously participating in this event. You RAWK! 

Learn about Ron Russell & check out the menu at Sun Cafe and Plum Cafe Bakery
Follow Sun Cafe on Facebook and Twitter
Follow Plum Cafe Bakery on Facebook and Twitter

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Sun Cafe’s Famous Cheesy Vegetable Casserole

  • Onion Rings
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  • 1  large yellow onion cut into slices
  • 2 Tbsp coconut aminos or wheat-free nama shoyu
  • 1 tsp cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp Celtic sea salt 
  1. Toss all ingredients except the chia seeds in a bowl and place in the Excalibur dehydrator at 115 degrees for 1 to 2 hours until onions turn limp.
  2. Drain onions of moisture and toss with chia seeds.
  3. Place on a teflex sheet and dehydrate for about 12 hours or until crispy.
  4. *You can enjoy this dish without the onions rings if you are in a hurry and don't have time to make them. 
  • Vegetable Mix
  • 1 cup diced celery 
  • 1 cup zucchini (quartered and sliced ¼” thick)
  • 1 cup red pepper (diced ½")
  • 1 cup sliced crimini or white mushroom 
  • ½ cup diced yellow onion
  • ½ cup diced tomatoes 
  • ½ tsp Celtic sea salt
  • ½ tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup vegan chez (recipe below)
  1. Mix vegetables (except tomatoes), salt, pepper and cheese.
  2. Place in the Excalibur dehydrator at 115 degrees for about 1.5 hours.
  3. This will soften the vegetables and concentrate the flavours.  
  • Vegan Chez
  • 1  small chopped red pepper
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds (soaked and drained)
  • 6 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 ½ tsp Celtic sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp raw agave or chopped pitted dates
  • ¾ cup filtered water 
  1. Blend all ingredients in your Vitamix.
  • Greens Layer
  • 2 cups chopped baby spinach
  • 1 cup chopped kale 
  • 1 Tbsp  coconut aminos
  • 1 tsp cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
  1. Massage greens with coconut aminos & olive oil to soften.

To Assemble:

  1. Use a 3.5" or 4" cooking ring/mold or a deep measuring cup to create individual servings.
  2. Place a layer of massaged greens, layer of cheese vegetables, layer greens, layer vegetables, layer of greens.
  3. Lightly press mixture into the mold to a firm stack.
  4. Remove the mold.
  5. Repeat for each serving.
  6. Top each stack with diced tomatoes and crown with an onion ring.
  7. Serve warm if possible, or place in the Excalibur dehydrator to warm for 10 minutes.
  8. Serves 6 (1 cup servings)

Learn about Ron Russell & check out the menu at Sun Cafe and Plum Cafe Bakery
Follow Sun Cafe on Facebook and Twitter
Follow Plum Cafe Bakery on Facebook and Twitter

Tips!

a quick easy way to clean this “cling-on” pieces out of your garlic press

If you are using a garlic press to mince your garlic you will know how hard they can to clean sometimes. There are always a few little stubborn bits that refuse to let go of the garlic party. Next time you are replacing your toothbrush (I replace mine about once a month) recycle it and then wash it. Keep it under the sink to scrub out your garlic press under running water to help remove those little cling on pieces.

This looks fantastic! And I LOVE that there is a shoyu substitute as I am allergic to soy.

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This IS fantastic, and coconut aminos are AMAZING and a LIFESAVER for people with allergies to soy. ENJOY :)

I have a dinner party coming up and this is on the list!  Very exciting will let you know how it goes.

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Wonderful! This recipe is a WINNER!
Can’t wait to hear how it all goes :)

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