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Experimenting with Living/Food/Lab

There’s much talk about “living food” and how the trend is latently emerging these past few years as more and more people are growing more conscious of healthy living and becoming more veggie-curious. But, of course, the arguably abstract term is still unfamiliar to most people. That said, what is exactly Living Food, and how does it differ from raw?

“Living food is alive with nutrients and enzymes, often called the life-force or energy of a food. Is this the same as raw food? Not quite,” says Pauliina Salmenhaara, owner of Living Food Lab and a plant-based chef in her own right. “Living food is by nature raw, but raw food is not necessarily live food. Raw food is raw food as long as it’s raw, meaning that it hasn’t been heated above 47 degrees Celsius. Living food means that it has been activated, through the sprouting of nuts and seeds. It also refers to fermented foods.”

Food sustains our being and infuses us with energy, yet so many of us are still not getting the full potential of the food that we consume. As long as it’s hunger-appeasing or taste bud-spoiling then that’s enough. Often our food is overtly cooked (over 47 degrees Celsius) and even over-cooked, which changes its molecular structure and, most importantly, makes it devoid of enzymes — the one element that we need to properly digest food and absorb its nutrients. That’s why living food has a higher nutritional content and is more bioavailable to our body than cooked foods, and ironically, even some completely raw foods such as freshly picked fruit.

The practice of activating food is key to Living Food Lab, a vegan café whose mission goes beyond promoting healthy menus to advocating conscious/mindful eating.  “It goes beyond simply feeding people—it’s about nourishing food-loving people with people-loving food,” Pauliina says. “Our deeper vision is to nourish people, nurture minds, and cultivate spirit. We want to go beyond the initial WOW! reaction to an appreciation of the depth of thought and care put into our food.”

There’s a reason why they call it Living Food Lab—the “lab” part (led by Pauliina herself) fervently explores and experiments with nature’s bounties to constantly find ways to bring out the best qualities in all of them.  To activate the ingredients used for either nut milk, a sauce, a wrap, bread, energy ball, cake or chocolate, LFL soaks most of their nuts and seeds (to remove the enzyme inhibitors) prior to blending or chopping. “All our foods are made from scratch, with attention to detail,” resumes Pauliina. “Like with a watercolor painting, we can’t hide behind anything. If an ingredient is spoilt or moldy, there’s no hiding.”

The café also makes it easy for the newly-converted vegans to transition into their new diet, which is why they introduced dehydrated foods into their offerings. “Dehydrated food, which is raw, acts as comfort food to someone who is just switching to vegan food. They are a connection to what used to be familiar and comforting. When a vegan diet has become the norm, it’s normal for the body to crave foods with somewhere around seventy percent water content, so there is less desire for dehydrated food. However, the majority of us are still in the phase where we crave cuisines that are similar to what we used to eat because we have too many emotional attachments, and for this reason, we prepare foods such as nachos, ‘burgers’, wraps, biscuits, crackers, and bread.”

At the end of the day, conscious eating is the ultimate goal that Living Food Lab wish to impart to their customers, inspired no doubt by the location of the first café in verdant, bamboo-laden Green School in Sibang Kaja where they have been whetting the students’ appetite—and boosting their energy and mental clarity in the process—with their conscientious menu. “Yes, it’s vegan, plain and simple, but our focus goes beyond this to many other factors. Here’s another one of our mottos: whole over perfect. We encourage our guests to take care of their whole being: body, mind, and soul. And that’s part of the reason we opened this up as a multi-concept space in our second café in Berawa, to nurture various aspects of ourselves: work, play, eat, drink.”

Living Food Lab

Canggu Square Unit 12 – 13

Jalan Pantai Berawa No. 8,

Tibubeneng, Bali 80361

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