It was chilly and rainy the morning that we left South Carolina and continued further south, but by the time we arrived in Florida, the sun was out to welcome us. (Yah baby!) As we drove, we could distinctively feel the change of temperature; we went from having the heater running to the air conditioner! Throughout the day, I peeled off four layers if you can believe it! lol
First thing we did once we reached the sunshine state was drop by the visitor’s center in order to stock up on maps and other Florida paraphernalia. As we were locking the car, a man walked towards us. He said he’d been following us on the highway and noticed that the lids of our containers were flapping in the wind. Oh-oh! NOT good! We’d hit a mega rainstorm in Georgia (Don doesn’t remember seeing rain falling so hard!), so we thought we better check if anything got wet. Sure enough, some water had sneaked into two of the bins. Nothing catastrophic though, as the clothes bin had thankfully remained sealed. Phfew! All our books managed to remain dry, except for one recipe book I hardly ever use anyways. No biggie. Boy, were we ever glad that the man ‘happened’ to also stop at the visitor’s center and was able to let us know. Imagine opening the bins weeks or months later, not to mention after the hot and humid Florida weather! Yikes!
Amazingly for us, we were going to be in the vicinity of not one but two raw cafés, so we decided we were up for a treat. (Woo hoo!) After a quick online check (what would I do without our laptop!?!), I discovered that the Present Moment Café in St-Augustine wasn’t open that day, so that pretty much solved it. We (very gladly!) hopped off I-95 in Jacksonville and made our way towards Atlantic Beach to the lovely Shakti Life Kitchen. I’d heard about this place via my friend Eva who recently taught a series of raw food prep classes there. I was actually hoping to bump into her as she’s also been replacing someone on leave in their kitchen. Sadly, Eva wasn’t around. In fact, as we walked in they were getting ready to close shop, but after telling them how far we’d come they kindly offered to prep something for us. Yay! The food was delightful! I love LOVE their wraps; pliable yet sturdy. They reminded me of the Soft Veggie Wraps but with whole flax seeds in them. On the staff’s recommendation, we had…
A Shakti Classic. Sprouted Buckwheat Beans, Sunflower Seed Cream Cheese, Fresh Greens, Tomato, and Sweet Onion rolled in a Fiesta Spinach Pepper Wrap.
“Don’t have a Cow” 3 Cheese Sandwich:
Layers of Pumpkin Seed Cheese, Cashew Cheese, and Chipotle Pepper Cheese are stacked with Fresh Greens, Sweet Onion, Cucumber, and Sprouts on Stunning Spinach Pitas. (My personal favorite!)
For dessert, we had Cinnamon Rolls with Whipped Cream, left over from their brunch menu. To live for!!!
In Florida’s Jungle
We spent that night at Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park which was conveniently located in Mayport, just a few miles north of Atlantic Beach. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous; a mixture of palm trees and live oaks with big streamers of moss hanging from them. So magical! We considered staying for another day or two, but as we soon found out, we were camped next to a rather loud family (to put it mildly) which definitely was a turn off. Still, we’d like to spend more time there when we’ll return to the area.
Melbourne Goes Raw
Our next stop was Melbourne, about 3 hours south of Jacksonville. There seemed to be a lot of energy drawing us to that area. For one thing, we’d been invited to stay with Stephanie who works at yet another brand new raw venture called Happy Healthy Human. (I swear they’re growing like mushrooms! Yay!)
HHH is her friend Jason’s baby; he’d been selling weekly organic food boxes out of his living room for a while and decided to expand. They like to think of Happy Healthy Human as a community life center as opposed to only a restaurant. Besides offering freshly made food, smoothies and wheat grass juices, their intention is to be a resource of education, support and empowerment, trying to send positive energy out into the community and encouraging people to be responsible for their own health. Some of the envisioned activities that HHH will offer include guest speakers/teachers, catered events, yoga classes and live music, kombucha and dessert nights. Sounds promising to me!
Since Steph was working when we arrived in town, we went straight to the center/café. It felt as if we’d walked in among a bunch of friends! Everyone was so vibrant and welcoming!
After giving a hand at the Happy Healthy Human on their crazy busy food box day, we stopped for a short walk at a nearby park. Kylo went for a little dip… Ahhhhh, so refreshing! Except that we later found out that there were alligators in the lake!!! Eeek!
Time To Rest
Stephanie lives in a cozy old style home with a nice big backyard. Predictably, the latter became our favorite place to hang out in the sun. 😉 There’s even a grapefruit tree, some of the harvest from which we enjoyed in our daily juices and smoothies.
Steph was working a lot of the time so we had the house pretty much to ourselves. We took the opportunity to go into complete recovery mode; hitting the hay super early, not doing much, laying in the sun, even not preparing anything too fancy in terms of food. Just taking it reeeeeeeal easy!
On the day of our arrival at Steph’s, I brewed a couple of batches of kombucha tea as we’d run out some time back. If you’re a kombucha drinker, then you know how much you miss the stuff when it’s not around! Since it looked like we were going to be there for at least 10 days and the weather was super warm, I figured I could take my chances. I didn’t have quite enough cane sugar, but after doing some research, I decided to use some sucanat sugar as well. I’ve never seen the scoby grow so fast! Within a week’s time, it had developed a new layer of almost half an inch!!! Unfortunately, the tea itself didn’t taste right so I ended up throwing the whole thing out. (Boo hoo!) I strongly suspect that the sucanat was the culprit as everything else I did the same as always. Live and learn, eh?
Stephanie shares her home with several cats. It was so neat to watch them interact, especially since our Puss is such a loner and doesn’t really get along with other felines. Sometimes we think that she must consider herself human or something. Meet Steph’s furry buddies…
All super stressed, as you can see. 😉 They were very very curious about what was laying on the other side of the bedroom door where we and Puss slept. I had actually taken a photo of all three of them staring at the closed door (soooooo funny!), but then somehow it got erased. *scratching her head*
When you live with animals sometimes you can stumble upon the cutest moments. I couldn’t resist capturing some of those on camera while at Steph’s.
One day while having dinner, Rocko was nonchalantly lounging on the place mat close to mine. His paw started to inch closer and closer. Next thing you knew, he was diving into my plate in search of the precious red candy! It was beyond ha-la-rious! hehe I personally thought it was so cute, I didn’t have the heart to scold him. 😉
The last few years, Don and I have been buying most of our clothes used. I mean, there’s just soooooo much in circulation already and the things you can find!!! As we were both needing some summer clothes for the beautiful Florida weather, I asked Steph about thrift stores. “Oh, you’re going thrifting!” she goes to me. (Hehe… “Thrifting”, I like that!) Little did I know… Melbourne almost has one on every block! I’ve never seen so many thrift stores in my life! We found four of them on the main little downtown stretch alone! I find that used clothes seem to be considerably cheaper than in Canada. Good thing I don’t live here is all I can say! lol One store we went in had a room full of clothes at 50 cents a piece. Wow, definitely my kind of place! We totally scored that day; a whole new wardrobe for under $6!!! Woo hoo
Another pull towards Melbourne was the fact that our dear friends, Lisa and her family from Ithaca, happened to be visiting relatives in the area during the Thanksgiving holidays. What are the odds of that!?! In fact, they were even staying at a small mom & pop’s motel by the beach where Stephanie used to work! I mean, come on, isn’t it incredible?
As you know, holidays can be a crazy time, so we only had a short visit. Still, we were happy to get a chance to see them again, even if not for long… We hung out on the beach below the motel while the kids got to splash in the ocean and make sandcastles one last time before returning home.
We’d brought along a decadent banana coconut pie creation that Holly in Tobaccoville had shared with us. So rich and oh-so-delicious!!!
2 cups dry coconut, finely shredded
2 cups pecans, fine meal
¼ cup coconut oil
¼ cup raw honey, or dates
½ tsp himalayen salt
Place coconut and pecans in blender, blend until fine. Place in bowl.
Blend bananas, coconut oil, honey or dates, and salt. Blend until smooth.
Slowly add the liquid mixture to dry mixture and stir until combined. There will be about a 1/4 cup of liquid mixture left over. Reserve for Filling.
Press crust into spring form pan, 9 inch, or regular round cake pan.
1 cup cashews
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup coconut oil
2 tbs raw honey
½ tsp himalayen salt
Blend cashews until fine. Scrape down sides.
Add reserved liquid mixture, vanilla, coconut oil, honey and salt. Blend until smooth.
Pour filling over crust. Freeze for at least three hours. Can then be put in the refrigerator.
Drizzle with honey or agave, if so desired.
~ I used only 3 cups of nuts total in the crust as I preferred to keep it on the lighter side. As a result, I had an extra cup of liquid mixture which I simply added to the Filling. It still worked beautifully!
~ I used dates as sweetener for the entire recipe.
~ I used less salt than Holly calls for, probably 1/4 tsp in the crust and 1/4 tsp in the filling.
~ I served the pie with a few banana slices and Heathy’s amazing Chocolate Sauce. Heavenly!
Hum, not a bad note to end this post on… Stay tuned for the rest of my account of our time in Melbourne!