I have to admit, when I first heard about raw foods and “green” drinks I dismissed them as just one more passing wellness trend. But swayed by the influence of friends and family members, I reluctantly gave in to the swelling tide of fruit, veggie and super food concoctions that came my way. Some were good, some were just ok and some were just plain awful. But what ultimately kept me going on the plant based nutrition path was the simple fact that I felt more energized and alive after eating fruit, veggie and superfood based meals. This is not to say that I’ve since become a raw foodie, a vegan, or even a vegetarian. But I do heavily supplement my already healthy meat, dairy and gluten diet with regular infusions of raw foods and green drinks.
Luckily, Sonoma County is home to a few of the most delicious and innovative “food as medicine” culinary options available in Northern California. Below are my top three:
Owner Gia Baiocchi is truly an “alchemystress” of all things green and good, with a mission to offer foods that are not only infused with delicious flavor, but also emphasize life giving nutrients.
Raised in Sebastopol, Baiocchi began working with traditional herbs at the age of 15, and went on to study with famous herbalist Rosemary Gladstar, before becoming a raw food chef and caterer in Hawaii. Baiocchi’s recipes also showcase her background in Ayurvedic and native Hawaiian nutrition, aromatherapy and other healing modalities.
With a mission to model “deep sustainability” in every aspect of her business, The Nectary supports local farmers and businesses, pays employees a living wage and strives to nourish a spirit of community on all levels.
When I first moved back to Sebastopol, I stopped in to try the “Mojo Rising” smoothie (pineapple, avocado, kale, lime, jalapeno and house made Cashew mylk), and was immediately hooked. The Nectary has since become one of my regular “healthy treat” stops. Besides their smoothies and cold pressed juices, other faves include the raw fudge (out of this world!) and delicious desserts. The Nectary also uses their cold pressed juices in ferments including house made kombucha, juice kefirs and juns (like kombucha, but with green tea as a base instead of black tea).
Stay tuned for June when The Nectary introduces a late night Raw Tapas and “mocktail” bar.
6760 McKinley Street #130 (In the Barlow)
Open every day! Saturday & Sunday 10am to 5pm (Beginning in June open to 10pm). Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5:30pm. 707-829-2697
Open since January of 2016, Seed to Leaf is already a hit with the downtown Santa Rosa crowd. This eclectic restaurant was inspired by the mother of one of the owner’s, who cured herself of a debilitating health condition by switching to a raw food diet. But though Seed to Leaf does have many raw options, the menu is designed to appeal to all types of eaters, with a generous array of both cooked and raw entrée items available.
With a focus on nutrient rich, plant based ingredients; Seed to Leaf Organics goes beyond the norm with their “Bliss Bowls”, “Living Pizzas”, “Stacked Veggie Lasagna” and “BBQ Jaque Sandwich”. Seed to Leaf also has a wide range of cold-pressed juices, smoothies, elixirs, coffee and much more.
On a recent visit I was blown away by their Mint Smoothie, which is an ambrosia like blend of cucumber, pineapple mint and lime. Raw tacos were also delicious, made with walnut “meat” and creamy cashew and chipotle creams. I can’t wait to go back to explore more of the menu!
Seed to Leaf will also be vending at the Wednesday night markets in Downtown Santa Rosa starting in June. 25 Courthouse Square, Santa Rosa, ca 95404, 707.978.4043, Monday-Sunday 10am-6pm (open until 10pm starting in May)
This gorgeous “juicery joint” showcases some very special offerings. Besides their cold-pressed juices, smoothies, tonics, elixirs and nut milks, Juicery on the Square makes kombucha and juns infused with house made juices. These handcrafted blends are so popular they regularly sell out, so call ahead to make sure you get an order in for yours!
Other menu items include hot soups, salad and organic oatmeal. Besides their Vintners Square café, they also offer a juice cleanse package (which they deliver for free!). I loved their “Chocolate Milk” with Pumpkin Seeds, Dates, Cacao Beans, Coconut Sugar, Cacao Butter and Vanilla Bean, a delicious and healthy treat. Or for a healthy breakfast enjoy the organic oatmeal with Oats, chia seeds, almonds, goji berries, dates, cashews, vanilla bean, sea salt and cinnamon.
(707) 800-7953. 1305 Cleveland Avenue in Santa Rosa Vintners Square. Monday – Friday 8-6, Saturday 8-5, Sunday – 9-1 – no deliveries.
Find more info about wellness and spas in Sonoma County.