If you are into raw food, or vegan food, then you will have heard of that little gem that sits nestled in between greek eateries and italian restaurants in Sydney’s Enmore. By that little gem, I’m referring to Sadhana Kitchen, the first raw vegan organic wholefoods cafe to hit Sydney, and oh what a blessing it’s been.
From humble beginnings, in the kitchen connected to a yoga studio on Wilford lane, to now taking residency in the indie centre of Sydney’s Inner West, it seems Sadhana kitchen has come of age. No longer able to contain it’s personality to the confinements of such a small enclave, this little gem is definitely shining bright and growing bigger by the day.
But what makes it such a success? Is it the food, which is delicious, meticulously prepared and oh so good for you? Or is it the actual venue, which is warm and inviting and has none of the pretentious vibe that you can so often find at other ‘hip’ Sydney venues.
No, above aside, what makes Sadhana Kitchen so special, is the heart and soul that goes into it. The team at Sadhana obviously love what they do, and you can see that in every single dish that comes out.
From the first time I went there when it was still joined to the yoga studio, to now, I can tell you that it is consistent. Consistently good.
The force behind the team at Sadhana is the creator and owner, Maz Valcorza.
I first met Maz at one of her raw food workshops about a year and a half ago. I was newly vegan, and just starting to find out about the raw lifestyle. Her workshop was such an awesome learning experience, and through her, I came to know about Kimberley Snyder, who you all know I love.
What I got from my first meeting with her, even back then, was that she was clearly passionate about what she was doing. And that really has not changed.
I mean who quits their well paying secure job, to do something they have never, ever done before? Working around the clock and sleeping on the floor of the yoga studio whilst the cafe was in it’s infancy was not unusual but this is the type of person she is. An A type personality that gets the job done to perfection and still manages to stay awesome.
When I met with Maz to interview her for this piece, I was instantly at ease in her presence and it was evident that she’s a very spiritual being. We chatted like two people that knew each other. Everything was easy, there were no awkward moments, and we discussed a range of topics. To my surprise, she touched a lot on issues that I am currently going through and the more we chatted, the more clear these things became to me.
Apart from chatting, giving me book recommendations and sharing her love of Ashtanga yoga with me, she also presented me with an array of goodies that were so beautiful, I didn’t actually wanna eat them! Well, for a second anyway.
Can you see what I mean now about how beautiful the food is?
I started with the Sadhana Super Bowl, a delicious big bowl full of shredded kale, house-made sauerkraut, cherry tomato, cucumber and pesto zoodles served with brazil nut cheddar and sundried tomato & smoked paprika hummus.
Then there was the crepes filled with their homemade not-ella (get it?), bananas, coconut yoghurt and drizzled with strawberry coulis and chocolate sauce.
And I couldn’t leave there without trying the better than wagon wheel! Two delicious chocolate biscuits with a layer of raspberry chia jam and fluffy marshmallow, all dipped in raw mylk chocolate. I need to stress here just how fluffy that marshmallow was though. Seriously, like a little puffy cloud. But not icy, just yummy
And I washed it all down with a warm cup of salted caramel hot chocolate, yep, it was so so good.
If you were ever wondering about raw food, or wanted to introduce someone to it, this is the place to do it at. It really does tick all the boxes for me and I know that once you try it, it’ll become your fave too.
And now for the One Hungry Mami questions! You didn’t think it was just all about the food did you?
I asked Maz a few things that I wanted to know, being nosey and all, and she happily obliged. So here you are, for your reading pleasure, a glimpse into the lovely pocket rocket that is Maz.
Let’s start with the basics first: What is your eating philosophy and how did this come about?
My eating philosophy is that food can be a vehicle by which we can all connect to our personal wisdom, cultivate our own unique culture of health and take sovereignty over our health and well-being. So often I see people letting marketing messages and corporations that have a lot to gain from our ignorance, dictate their lifestyles. By connecting to our inherent wisdom, and making conscious decisions about what we put into our body’s, we can make a positive difference within ourselves and in our world. All of this came about through my yoga practice. Yoga opened the door to veganism, then raw food and generally just being mindful and taking responsibility for my choices.
What changes did you notice in yourself after taking up this lifestyle?
Straight away I started to sleep better. I had problems sleeping and always thought I was pretty fit, because I ran regularly. But I was also eating a tremendous amount of processed junk foods, smoking a pack a day and drinking quite heavily on the weekends. I think I didn’t know what healthy really felt like until I got rid of all the nasty foods my body craved and fed it what it needed instead. I am also naturally quite slim, so the changes were more subtle. I started to develop strength and my skin really began to glow, I woke up without the need of an alarm clock and my mind was a lot clearer.
People often wonder about transitioning to raw veganism but find it challenging, especially in cooler months. What barriers did you meet when you started and what tips can you share to make this a success for anyone who is interested.
I think with raw veganism or adopting a healthy lifestyle in general, people really need to cultivate that connection with their food, and connect with their inherent personal wisdom. The truth is, no one way of eating or healthy lifestyle will suit absolutely everyone in the world. Once you eliminate the processed foods that are addictive, and start from a clean slate, then you can begin using your body’s natural ability to let you know exactly what it needs for optimum wellbeing. That’s why cleanses are so helpful, they detoxify, give you digestive system a much needed rest and allow you to have a fresh start. For me, I don’t tend to crave really hot or warm foods, even during the colder weather because I feel most nourished eating raw fruits and veggies. I do however love drinking herbal teas and herbal tonics. My friend Mason from Superfeast makes the most amazing Reishi Hot Chocolate which has a base of pau d’arco tea. So nourishing and so delicious. A great way to warm up is to add some spice to your food and drink. Fresh chilli, ginger, turmeric, they all help to create heat and boost the metabolism. Finally, if the thought of eating raw food just doesn’t comfort you when it’s cold, then eat a healthy cooked meal. Try roasted or steamed sweet potatoes. Whatever you eat, pair it with a green salad for some much needed enzymes.
What motivated you to open Sydney’s first raw vegan cafe?
I was working in pharmaceutical sales and marketing and was travelling almost every day. I was so into raw food that I made up lots of recipes and enjoyed them throughout my working week. I thought, wow this is so simple, and easy even with a hectic lifestyle, so I started a blog to share my recipes with others. It just so happened that the owner of the yoga studio I completed teacher training in was looking for someone to take over their café space. The rest is history, or the begging of this new story.
What ingredients are a must for your fridge/pantry?
Organic dark leafy greens, as much of a variety as possible. Ideally, whatever seasonal produce is available is what forms the basis of all my meals. Some foods that help to make amazing superfood smoothies (which are the quickest and easiest way to get all your nutritional requirements in a single meal) are frozen bananas (they add a creaminess to all smoothies, chia seeds & hemp seeds (ridiculously amazing superfoods that have a mild flavor so they can be added to all meals) and fermented foods like sauerkraut. I try to have at least ½ a cup per day. Eating fermented foods help to naturally and gradually detoxify the body, promote good gut health and in turn, give you glowing skin, high energy levels and optimum digestion.
What are the most essential kitchen gadgets to keep in a raw kitchen?
A sharp knife, like in any kitchen, is invaluable, invest in a good one early, it will save you a lot of frustration down the line. Apart from that I think a high powered blender is a great investment, you can make so many things from sauces, dressing, dips, to smoothies, mylks, cheeze, to cakes, mousse, soups. It’s just so handy in a raw kitchen. Everything else is kind of a “nice to have” to really maximize how creative you can get with recipes. Blenders liquefy so a good pairing for a bender is a food processor, their primary function is to chop. They are great for combining ingredient that are denser like bliss balls, cheesecake cake bases or sauces you want to remain chunky. Spiralizers are great too for making “noodles” out of firm veggies – otherwise you can just use a peeler to make “fettuccini”. A mandolin is also great for slicing veggies super thin and you can get attachments that julienne too. All these different texture you can achieve make a huge difference in the overall presentation, flavor and feel of your dish. Finally for the really cool stuff, a dehydrator is great. You can get super tech and make things like breads, crepes, wraps, coconut bacon, kale ships, burgers. It basically acts like an oven, only on super low, slow heat. you can change the texture and flavour of foods just like you would when cooking, however the enzymes remain in tact.
What is your favourite dish to make?
I’m a bit of a dessert maker. The better than wagon wheels and better than tim tams at Sadhana Kitchen are my babies and I’m so happy with the great feedback we have received. Sweet but healthy treats really are the easiest way to convert people who are initially skeptical. I love making anything and everything though. I’m really in my element experimenting in the kitchen and coming up with new dishes. This week I made a raw vegan mushroom and avocado egg benedict with coconut bacon and an out of the world hollandaise sauce. Add some house fermented sauerkraut and that is my favourite thing to make and eat at the moment.
Juices or smoothies? What do you prefer and what combination?
I think it’s important to have a mix of both juices and smoothies. Basically smoothies have the fibre of the produce still in tact which is vital for cleaning our your colon. Whilst juices are devoid of fibre so the body doesn’t have to work as hard to assimilate the nutrients. Even so, smoothies are really easy to digest anyway, because they have been pre-blended. I would say that whatever you make, use organic plant based wholefoods, and when juicing it’s best to stick to veggies so that your body doesn’t get superloaded with a large hit of sugar. The fibre in fruit helps the body digest the fructose at a rate it can handle without negative effects. Also, always chew your smoothies and juices! It helps to release enzymes in your mouth making the nutrients easier to assimilate.
Sweet or savoury?
Both. I actually can’t choose. It’s whatever my body is feeling like within a single moment.
Can you share a fave recipe with us?
This recipe is nutritionally dense, containing high amounts of bioavailable nutrients including protein, calcium, omegas and vitamin C. Chia seeds are 20% protein, have 5 times the calcium of dairy and 3 times the iron of spinach. It’s the perfect pre-post workout meal that’s quick and easy to prepare and travels well.
Chia Protein Porridge
1/3 cup chia seeds
2 cups water
3/4 cups almonds
1 scoop sun warrior vanilla sprouted brown rice protein powder
2 tsp maca powder
2 tsp mesquite powder
1-2 tbs coconut sugar
fresh banana, blueberries & raspberries to serve
1. Pour chia seeds into a medium sized mixing bowl and set aside.
2. Place water, almonds, maca, mesquite, protein powder and coconut sugar in a blender on high speed until smooth. Combine with chia seeds and whisk together vigorously for 30 seconds, making sure to get rid of any lumps. Set aside for a few minutes and repeat the process until the mixture thickens. Chia seeds absorb many times their weight in liquid so keep stirring the mixture until the seeds have expanded and soaked the liquid.
3. Transfer into a serving bowl and top with fresh fruit.
Can you describe your day on a plate?
I wake up every morning and have 1 litre of water with the juice of 1 lemon and a pinch of cayenne.
After yoga, I have 1 litre of green smoothie, with my favourite superfoods added. Right now I’m really into medicinal mushrooms like chaga, cordyceps and reishi.
For lunch I’ll have something with loads of leafy greens, like a super bowl from Sadhana kitchen.
For dinner, I like to have something a little heavier. Like a raw vegan BLAT on our delicious raw onion bread or a raw bibimbap with sprouted wild rice. Occasionally, if I want something grounding, I’ll have some roasted or steemed sweet potatoes in my raw dinner salad. I drink lots of water throughout the day and snack on superfood smoothies, fruit and sometimes have a treat like a raw vegan better than wagon wheel, which are my fave!
How do you stay fit?
Yoga every day, I practice Ashtanga yoga and it’s part of my daily Sadhana (conscious spiritual practice). I also like to ride my bike around, walk whenever I can and go for runs. I love trampolines. A complex just opened up near my house, so I’m going to become a regular!
You have amazing skin, I’m sure from all they amazing food, but is there any brand you are particularly fond of?
Yes! I used to use Sircuit Skin which in a brand from the US that is cruelty free, highly concentrated and organic. It worked for me for the past 6 years, but recently, I’ve switched to Delicious Skin, which is made by my friend and colleague Nicola Marie. It’s really affordable, especially compared to other brands out there, hand made, organic, simple and edible! Honestly, it’s a freaking miracle worker. My skin has been quite clear for a while now because of my diet, but the Delicious Skin range maximizes the glow, makes my skin even softer and smells and feels so good. I also love supporting a local business that is vegan, ethical and run with so much love and passion. I can’t stress enough though how much eating the right foods really shows on your skin.
What are you top 5 tips for maintaining good health?
Start every morning with at least 500ml of filtered alkaline water with the juice of 1 lemon and pinch of cayenne. It detoxifies and kick starts your metabolism and rehydrates the body.
Be active and physically move your body every day for at least an hour. It doesn’t have to be a hard out gym session or marathon, unless that’s what you enjoy. Do something you love, play a team sport or just walk the dog, but get out there and get your body moving every day.
Practice yoga. Yoga cultivates mindfulness. It allows you to dedicate time to stilling the mind, connect to that which never changes and figure out what it really means to be truly happy and free. The physical practice obviously is great for keeping the body fit and a flexible spine is one of the most essential requirements for longevity. But even more than that, taking time out of each day to breathe, be mindful and meditate is priceless in our fast paced world.
Have a green smoothie every day. Think of it as an insurance policy to make sure you get your daily nutrient requirements. It also helps to cultivate healthy eating habits, because filling yourself with such goodness makes you less likely to reach for processed filler junk foods.
Have a gratitude journal. Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in the many cogs that keep this world spinning. A lot of it isn’t necessary, a lot of it is harmful, a lot of it is superficial, a lot of it is a distraction. Taking time each day to take stock of everything and everyone you are blessed with really brings everything into perspective and invites positivity and light into your life. When we come from a place of abundance and joy, we are also more compassionate. Compassion and kindness is essential to health and happiness, for ourselves and for our planet.
What’s next for Sadhana Kitchen?
Opening for dinner, releasing our new recipe book and continuing to serve awesome conscious food to our inspiring community.
There you have it peeps, hope you are feeling as inspired as I after reading through Maz’s answers.
A big THANKS to team Sadhana for the lovely lunch and for being one of the few places that I know will consistently keep me and my belly happy.
You can find Sadhana Kitchen at 147 Enmore Road, Enmore (02) 9516 1334
FB: Sadhana Kitchen
Peas, love and mungbeans
All pics of food taken by me except for chia porridge which was supplied by Maz Valcorza.