While I was traveling a couple years ago, I would literally get a raised eyebrow when I mentioned I was a vegan living in Nashville. “That must be tough. How do you do it with all the BBQ, dairy and fried food in the South?” I don’t think many of them believed me when I let them know it was quite simple and there were many progressive menus and offerings “down South.”
I am happy to report it has been a tasty vegan journey down here. With the wave of new veggie lovin’ businesses such as Sunflower Café in Berry Hill, Khan’s Vegan Bakery & Café in East Nashville and Spark of Life Healing Foods in West Nashville, there appears to be a very tasty future too!
Being a broad always on the go, I definitely jumped for joy when I had my first Raw Spark Box delivered by owner Pam Daley a few weeks ago. This convenient box is filled with a mix of healthy and fresh ready-to-eat gluten-free and vegan entrees, sides, snacks, and desserts that you can add into your weekly menu.
The Raw Pad Thai, Raw Fettuccini Alfredo, and Baked Gluten-Free Rosemary Pita with Raw Sunflower Pate were standouts and very filling! I also happily snacked on the Raw Carrot Cake and Raw Cranberry-Almond Granola too. The menu changes weekly and you can make arrangements for pick-up or delivery!
Although, she’s hectic plugging away with her new venture, Pam made some time to share the Spark of Life story with us.
SS: Share the story on what motivated you to start Spark of Life?
PD: I first learned about the healing benefits of a Raw Foods Diet and lifestyle though my dear friend Keith Little. He had completely reversed a serious illness he had been suffering from, and had lost a bunch of weight through juicing and eating raw foods. I was amazed at the transformation, and very intrigued. I went out to California to visit Keith and his lovely wife Phyllis (they are both 100% Raw Food Purists) and they prepared the most amazing Raw Foods dinner for me. They also turned me on to Cafe Gratitude in Berkeley, a raw foods restaurant, and the experience I had there changed my life forever! The food was fresh, vibrantly beautiful, raw, vegan, and so delicious. I felt as if I were on a spiritual “high” after our meal. During my flight home to Nashville, I heard a voice inside (assuredly) say “You have GOT to bring this concept to Nashville!”. I “heard the call”, as Joseph Campbell would say, and Spark of Life Healing Foods was born out of that incredible experience.
SS: What fellow entrepreneurs in (or out 0f) your industry motivate and inspire you?
PD: Oprah, because she credits God for her success and generously gives back what she has been given. Chad Sarno, Senior Culinary Educator and R&D Chef for the Health Starts Here program at Whole Foods Market, and co-author of Crazy Sexy Kitchen: 150 Plant-Empowered Recipes to Ignite a Mouthwatering Revolution. His humorous and fun approach to a plant-based cuisine inspires me – and his recipes rock!
SS: What do you believe to be the biggest misconception about a raw and vegan lifestyle?
PD: That you will not get enough protein in your diet (so wrong!); that you’ll always be hungry (wrong again); that it’s Hippy Food and people will start calling you a “Granola Head.” Let ‘em! It’s worth it.
SS: Three words to describe yourself. Go!
PD: Tenacious, creative, free-spirited
With those three words, she’s definitely a Shop Like You Give A Damn broad, right?
If you’re just as crafty as Pam in the kitch, you’ll enjoy this fabulous recipe for Raw Chocoloate Maca-Mousse direct from the Spark of Life kitchen!
Spark of Life’s Raw Chocolate-Maca Mousse yields (7 ) 8oz servings
Adapted from I Am Grateful: Recipes and Lifestyle of Cafe Gratitude
2 oz soaked Irish Moss (appx. 1 oz unsoaked)
3 C unsweetened almond milk
3/4 c water
1/2 C well packed, finely chopped pitted medjool dates
4 T maple syrup (or raw agave)
1 c raw cacao powder
2 T vanilla extract
3 T. soy or sunflower lecithin
1 T raw Maca powder
3/4 c raw unscented coconut butter
A sprinkling of Pink Himalayan Salt (way less than a pinch)
After measuring the unsoaked Irish moss (1 oz), rinse it 3 or 4 times in a fine mesh colander to remove the salt and sand; drain well. Using a glass jar, cover the moss with filtered water and store on the counter, at least overnight. The Irish moss will double in size and become translucent, at which point it’s ready to use. Irish Moss is a vegan thickener and emulsifier full of minerals. I use Divine Organics brand found on Amazon.
Drain the Irish moss and rinse it really well with cold water. Cut into small pieces; put in the blender (Blendtec or Vitamix) with 1/2 cup filtered water. Blend on high about 3 minutes, until it’s a smooth, thick gel with no visible pieces of moss left.
Chop the pitted dates into small pieces. Warm the coconut butter to soften it. I put the glass jar of coconut butter in a container of hot water while I prepare the Irish Moss.
Add the almond milk, dates, Maple syrup, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt to the Irish Moss and blend until smooth. With the blender still running, slowly add the lecithin. Continue blending, adding the coconut butter in stages, so it is well incorporated.
Taste the mixture.
Pour into a bowl or your serving dishes and refrigerate for at least two hours until set. Top with fresh raspberries and mint. Keeps for a week in the ‘fridge!
Yearning to try Pam’s raw recipes? Here’s your chance to WIN your very own Spark Box filled with vegan and gluten-free goodies!
Since Spark of Life is local to the Nashville area, this giveaway is open to Nashville/Franklin area residents. We will announce the winner next Shop Like You Give A Damn Sunday – February 24th!
Best of luck Stella Shoppers.
Photo Credit: Cameron Powell