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Jun 1, 2006
Jun 1, 2006
Darien goes raw, gets healthy
By Susan Chaves
http://www.acorn-online.com/news/publish/article_7051.shtml

So long fast food. Adios junk food. Good-bye carbs. Hello raw foods?

Noshing on portobello fajitas and sipping coconut water has become a popular alternative for people seeking a healthier lifestyle.

Darienites Michelle Mauboussin and Kim Walsh are two faithful followers of such cuisine that uses organic fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts and sprouted greens.

“I love to eat this way,” said Mauboussin, adding that the change in her diet has resulted in clearer skin, a need for less sleep and an increased energy level. “It makes me feel so good that if I veer off it, I really feel the difference.”

Mauboussin was turned on to raw foods two years ago by Walsh, who began eating vegan-style a year earlier. Although initially skeptical about the practice, Mauboussin agreed to attend a raw food preparation class with her friend in New York City.

“I was immediately hooked,” Mauboussin said. “The food was so delicious and tasty. It wasn’t like I was being tortured.”

The positive experience prompted bringing a raw food juice bar to Darien. After a trip to the city last spring for another raw food class — this one led by Michael Kenney — approached the chef about opening a fourth Blue/Green cafe at Equinox on Heights Road.

“A lot of his restaurants are high-end and very expensive so I never thought he would come to a gym,” Walsh said. “When he said he would, I was thrilled.”

Blue/Green debuted in town last November and, due mostly to word-of-mouth, has experienced a steady increase in the number of customers.

“I’m amazed and thrilled with the response,” Kenney said.

This is Kenney’s first dalliance outside of the city since opening the first of 11 restaurants specializing in Mediterranean- and American-influenced entrees in 1993. After a successful seven years, during which he published two cookbooks, launched a catering and events company and created a line of gourmet food products for retail stores, Kenney’s culinary career began to crumble. His restaurants closed one after the other, leaving him in financial straits.

By 2004, Kenny bounced back with Pure Food and Wine, a raw, vegan restaurant in Gramercy Park he ran with his then-girlfriend. The pair also wrote a cookbook Raw Food, Real World.

Today, Kenney has left Pure Food and Wine and established Organic Umbrella, which oversees several business ventures focusing on a raw food lifestyle, including vegan and juice cafes, a raw food cooking class and a retail line of prepared foods. He also owns The Plant, a kitchen that, among other things, supplies food to Blue/Green and offers weekly raw food cooking classes.

“Getting into raw food had changed my personal life and my business life,” Kenney said. “I was definitely skeptical first, but the food changed my life. I’m never sick, I require less sleep, I have tons of energy and I’m 42, and never had a gray hair.”

He attributes the benefits to the fact that the foods are not processed, pasteurized or cooked above 118 degrees, meaning all essential vitamins and enzymes are left in tact. He said preparing the food is not difficult, just replace the stoves, ovens and microwaves with a dehydrator, Vita-mixer and juicer.

“The most challenging aspect is creating new cuisine that is tasty,” Kenney said. “You’ve got to be creative when putting things together.”

Some favorites at Blue/Green in Darien include the spicy mango spring rolls, vegetable summer rolls, Mexican salad, the all green juice and the mango, the raspberry and almond milk smoothie and the pear almond milk, cinnamon and hemp protein smoothie.

If people do not have time to dine at the cafe, there is Blue/Green To Go, where for $40 customers can pick up a day’s worth of raw food meals, including a green juice, a smoothie, two meals and dessert. The menu changes daily.

“It’s really about convenience and healthful food,” Mauboussin said. “So many people want it, but they can’t do it.”

That includes Mauboussin, a mother of five, who came up with the concept after finding she had little time to prepare the food she enjoyed. More recently, she started doing the Blueprint Cleanse, wherein people have nothing but six shakes a day for five days. Both the shakes and the program were developed by Zoe Sakoutis and are currently only available at Blue/Green for $300 for a five-day supply.

The New York-based raw food nutritional consultant has created four cleanses that increase in intensity. Raw 101 consists of raw food solids that are easily digested for people who are unfamiliar with healthy eating. Walk the Line is half solids and half blended drinks and serves as a segue to Blended & Smooth, offered at Blue/Green, is nothing but liquids and blended soups. Easy Being Green is the highest level and finds only the people most experienced with cleanses drinking green juices and coconut water.

“I wanted to bridge the gap between starting the cleanse and the extreme,” said Sakoutis, who launched her line two weeks ago after a year’s worth of trial and error. “It’s been a slow humiliation. I used myself and my mom as guinea pigs.”

Her cleanse, inspired by what she learned during time spent at the Anne Wigmore Institute in Puerto Rico, incorporates a lot of papaya, sprouts, greens and coconut water as well as a little bit of health science and a touch of behavioral science.

“When people understand what certain foods are doing for them, they want to go out and eat it,” Sakoutis said. “So I’m really interested to see how the cleanse does. I think it’ll be really great.”

Mauboussin and Walsh rave about the cleanse, saying the drinks are “very satisfying” and curb hunger throughout the day. In fact, Mauboussin said one Blue/Green customer has lost 35 pounds doing the cleanse and eating raw food.

“Blue/Green is the talk of the town,” said Mauboussin, noting that she has received e-mails, phone calls and letters thanking her and Walsh for “making Darien a healthier place.” “It’s great to see other people feeling good and being so enthusiastic about it.”

That bit of news is music to Walsh’s ears.

“It has been my dream that people in town would start feeling the way I feel every day,” said the mother of three boys. “Two weeks after I started eating raw food I felt 15 years old and was begging my kids to play with me.”

While raw food suits her just fine, Walsh said eating it all the time is not for everyone. However, she said introducing just a small amount into one’s diet can make a difference.

“It’s not all or nothing,” she said. “You can add more raw foods into your lifestyle and you’ll feel better.”
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Posted: Jun 1, 2006 9:14am

 

 
 
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