Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ape Man Foods

I truly believe in the nutritional value of raw vegan foods. I mean what could possibly be bad about plant-based foods in their most natural state? So when I received a press release in early May announcing there was a new raw foods company in town, I nearly rejoiced. Ape Man Foods is what they call themselves and good food is what they make -- as they like to say, "only pure, unadulterated, delicious plants."

The woman behind the company is Valerie Grissom and she has worked in the restaurant industry since she was 16 years old including a stint at Equinox in DC. With a strong work ethic, she worked throughout college and has since had several former careers as a lawyer and an accountant, but ultimately found herself returning to the kitchen to do what she loved. Her husband was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at a very young age and Valerie wanted to see what effect a raw vegan diet would have on his condition. Together they discovered that they felt so much better living a raw vegan life 6 days per week -- she felt like she had found her calling. A self-taught chef, Valerie learned most of what she knows from books published by the most famous raw foods chefs including Matthew Kenney and Roxanne Klein. With this knowledge coupled with her restaurant experience, she began developing her own recipes and feeding her friends and family until one day, the owner of the juice bar, Puree, in Bethesda asked if she might be willing to prepare her foods to sell at the cafe. And just like that, in 2012, the company was born. Just a year later, Valerie has moved her distribution from Puree to Whole Foods in Friendship Heights and is hoping to expand to other Whole Foods in the area soon. She brought me the five items they are selling in Whole Foods to try and boy, was I impressed.

If I had to pick a favorite product, I'd have to say the Walnut Meat Tacos were the ones that really blew me away. From the dehydrated nut-based shells to the walnut meat inside, I was impressed with every aspect of this dish. Filled with lettuce, tomato, and onion, and topped with a raw sour cream, you'll find you won't be able to eat just one.

The Portobello Caprese Sandwiches are mind-blowing as well. The bread is made of spiral-sliced onions, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, tamari, and olive oil and dehydrated for a total of 36 hours. Yeah, this is why I don't make much raw gourmet food on my own. Inside the sandwich was a marinated portobello cap, ripe tomato slices with spices, fresh basil, and cashew cheese paired with sundried tomato marinara sauce. This is a very rich, filling sandwich.

Then there is the Pistachio Pesto Lasagna. The top and bottom noodle layers are made of dehydrated zucchini while the middle layer is made of yellow squash. Inside you'll find thick layers of pesto, corn, nut-based ricotta, mushrooms, and tomato sauce. Again, very rich and very good.

There is also a Garden Blend Soup with Eggplant Bacon. I could eat that eggplant bacon sans the soup as a snack like every day.

And for dessert, there are Brownies with Chocolate Sauce and Raspberries.

Best of all, their foods are raw, vegan, organic, and gluten-free. As you may already know, the time and labor-intensive processing and pureness of the organic ingredients drive up the cost of raw foods, and these products are no different. The lasagna and portobello caprese retail for $11.99, the tacos for $9.99, the garden blend soup for $8.99, and the brownies for $7.99.  Are they worth it? Yes, I'd say so. To find out more about this company, click here. In the meantime, I'll be emailing the P Street Whole Foods on a daily basis begging them to bring these items to that location.

Full Disclosure: Although the products were provided to me for free to review, that in no way influences my veracious opinion. 

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