The Living Cafe, Singapore

i cannot believe how long it took me to discover this hidden gem located right in my hood!!! located at the row of shops along bukit timah road just before you turn left onto 6th avenue is the lovely living cafe that serves an exciting range of really healthy food. i used to think it was just a healthy eating/organic food shop but my sister discovered that it was also a cafe a while back, and recommended that i check it out. 20140623_143610

i love how bright, open, clean and tastefully decorated it is. there is ample seating space in the cafe on the first floor, and a little loft towards the back of the shop where they have a shop selling healthy foods. they pride themselves on serving a range of not just raw and vegan foods but also regular foods which are done using quality ingredients and cooked healthily. you might be wondering what on earth raw food is and how one eats food raw – i took this excerpt from their website:
“Raw food generally refers to a vegan diet that goes beyond just steering clear of animal products. There’s no cooking in the traditional sense (in that nothing is heated above approximately 118 degrees Fahrenheit), and ingredients are not chemically processed, pasteurized, homogenized, genetically modified, hybridized, or otherwise compromised. The basic premise behind a raw food diet is that cooking and processing foods generally decreases their digestibility and vitamin and mineral density, as well as their overall health-promoting qualities.”
(more info about raw food can be found here!)

here is their lunch menu (they have a separate dinner menu, and a brunch menu on weekends):20140623_143442

besides food, their menu also features a range of freshly-squeezed juices and freshly-made smoothies. all of them sound delicious and the best part is that they are not only completely guilt-free, but also very good for you!
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for those who would rather stick to water (in order to save some space for dessert ;)), you can help yourself to some reverse osmosis water:20140623_143652
not sure if it was all in my mind but i really thought the water tasted better than regular water! this might sound quite silly because it is just water after all, but i swear it tasted more pure and refreshing than tap water/regular ice water! its what i imagine water drunk straight out from a bubbling stream to taste like.

given that it isn’t often that you come across places serving raw food in singapore (hawker food galore!!!), i decided that i had to pick something raw from the menu:
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raw “cheese” burger: onions/beet/carrot/tomato/sprouts/raw “cheese” sauce/raw pattie (dehydrated – nuts/seeds/oats/onions/flaxseed)/guacamole – $18
i absolutely loved this!!! one of the responses i got to posting a picture of this on instagram was a correction of my caption of “raw “cheese” burger” to “raw “cheese” “burger”” which i was rather amused by. healthiest “burger” ever? the carrots, beet, onion and alfafa came together wonderfully to make this yummy crunchy salad that was moist despite not being doused in dressing. the moisture must have come from the natural juiciness of the fresh veggies i think, because the “cheese” sauce was mostly contained to the top of the pattie, and was added in far from copious amounts at all. having the pile of veggies with the pattie was the best thing ever – the sauce tied everything together, and i enjoyed every bit of that pattie. the nuts, seeds and oats created a really nice bite and even though it was dehydrated, it still retained sufficient moisture to not be too dry. it reminded me a little of falafel (gotta love falafel) in pattie form, but denser and with more bite.

deconstructed so you get a better look of the pattie:20140623_145702despite it being completely veggie, it was actually rather filling (but not overly so) and left me feeling really satisfied. not sure if you can tell from the pictures, but it was a really huge “burger” and was piled very generously with super fresh greens. i liked it so much that i have a feeling i’ll find it difficult to order something different when i return to the living cafe…

my sister opted for the vegan tofu burger:20140623_145015vegan tofu burger with wedges and coleslaw: sesame crusted tofu bun, eggplant, mushrooms, raw dijon mustard dressing – $15
all their homemade burgers come with a serving of sweet potato wedges and coleslaw. though not raw and not entirely vegan (there are fish & meat options), they are prepared in as healthy a way as possible with the best possible ingredients. the sweet potato wedges were baked and lightly flavoured with some kind of herbs; they were of a great texture (just the right amount of bite) and the natural sweetness of the potato really shone through. as for the coleslaw, it was light, fresh and very refreshing – none of that commercial stuff drowning in mayo. i personally really liked the sesame-crusted tofu bun because i love everything tofu and everything sesame; this was right up my alley and such a cute idea to substitute bread with! the mushrooms and onions were tasty and added flavour to the tofu; the sister was really happy with her choice too.

the aftermath:20140623_151051

our plates were wiped clean (spick and span!!!) but the best part about eating such foods is that you never feel too stuffed or uncomfortably full even though you’ve had a filling and satisfying meal. perfect for checking out their array of raw desserts:
20140623_143110the only thing better than having dessert is having dessert that is healthy yet yummy. these desserts are really amazing, considering that they are raw!!! the living cafe has an array for you to pick from, ranging from truffles to cookies to cheesecakes to chocolate-mint slices to chocolate ganache cakes.

we opted for the lemon cranberry tart which the counter staff recommended:20140623_151525
lemon cranberry tart – $8.90
though quite steeply-priced at $8.90, my sister and i both agreed that this was totally worth it. it was so enjoyable that i’d have this over a regular (non-raw) lemon tart any day!!! the lemon filling was of just the right tartness and the consistency was dense yet  not too heavy. the cranberries and pistachio bits that topped it added texture to the tart, as did the crust, which was probably my favourite part! after taking a bite of the crust, i decided a close-up shot of it needed to be taken so it could be appreciated in its full glory:20140623_151640just look at that amazing crust – if my taste buds didn’t fail me, it contained fig, pistachio, cranberries, dates, other nuts? so so so good. it was moist and dense but still provided sufficient bite that a tart base requires. it was also naturally sweet which balanced the sourness of the lemon filling. this is another thing i’d find hard to resist ordering the next time i return!

seriously, eating clean has never been so appealing! i left the living cafe feeling really satisfied and happy after having such healthy yet yummy food. given the quality of what you’re eating, i also feel that the prices are very reasonable; everything stated in the menu is nett so you pay exactly what you see with no hidden costs. another plus point is that its open every day of the week!

as i paid at the cashier, the (very friendly) staff member asked if i was “eating healthy” and my response was “not really, but this makes it a whole lot easier!”. i’ll definitely be back here when i’m in need of a detox; in fact, i think i will be back even if i’m not!

The Living Cafe and Deli
779 Bukit Timah Rd
Singapore 269758
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Brownice, Singapore

i was skeptical when i heard about the vegan ice cream that brownice serves – what could ice cream possibly be without any cream/milk/eggs?!?! but i’m glad i gave this shop along sin ming road (they have another branch in balestier) a chance and paid it a visit, because the ice cream they serve is a great alternative that’s healthier and more guilt-free than regular ice cream.

you’re probably wondering how exactly vegan ice cream works. i was equally baffled because i just could not imagine how ice cream could be made without any dairy products! at brownice though, they prove that it can not just be done, but be done well. they do not use any animal products in their ice cream at all – they pride themselves on making all-natural foods without any artificial flavours or colouring, and use organic brown rice milk, fruits and nuts instead. this makes the ice cream perfect for the lactose-intolerant or the super health-conscious!20131220_172430

i visited on a friday afternoon, and it was really quiet which made it a great spot for great conversation with great friends 🙂 service was very good and i loved how they are so willing to let you try as many flavours as you want. (this is despite the fact that they don’t use disposal spoons, and have to wash each spoon that you use to sample the different flavours!) there were 12 flavours available when i went, but they have many more flavours than that. the full range of flavours can be found on their website: http://www.brownice.com/flavour.html . the shop is spacious and bright, giving off a nice casual vibe with simple furniture and cute little handwritten signs like these:
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here’s the menu with what you can order:20131220_145824a single scoop costs $3.80, but it gets much cheaper if you order more (the more the merrier!). toppings can be added at $1 each, while brownies and waffles are available at $4 and $3.50 respectively. there are options for specials such as the sundae (2 scoops + 1 topping served sundae-style) and the ice cream bowl (4 scoops + 4 toppings).

since the ice-cream was less unhealthy/calorific/fattening, we decided that we could have heaps more than we normally would, and that is how 2 girls ended up with an ice cream bowl to share between us:
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ice cream bowl (clockwise from white scoop: banana oats, cranberry hazelnut, black sesame, green tea with caramelised almonds x2, roasted walnuts, roasted almonds) – $12.50

my favourite out of the 4 flavours was without a doubt, the black sesame. the green tea and cranberry hazelnut were both also really good, and my least favourite was the banana oats. the black sesame was so wonderfully fragrant and thick and smooth and bursting with amazing black sesame flavour!!! i am a complete black sesame fan so this was heaven for me. the texture of the ice cream is a little different from regular ice cream – i would say its a bit less creamy and more sorbet-like almost? – but its not very noticeable, especially with the black sesame and green tea flavours, i felt! the green tea was equally fragrant and smooth, while i thought the cranberry hazelnut was an interesting combination that actually worked. as for the banana oats, i didn’t quite enjoy it as i thought the oats made the texture of the ice cream rather odd and kind of icy/rough? but its one of their most popular flavours, so don’t let this deter you from ordering it; it might just be a case of personal taste that i didn’t really enjoy it. the caramelised almonds were amazing and came highly recommended by our server, hence the double portion 😀

we enjoyed the black sesame and hazelnut so much that this is what happened next:
20131220_1549262 scoops (black sesame, cranberry hazelnut) – $5.90

some other flavours that were available that day and i think are worth mentioning are chendol and coffee hazelnut. i really felt like i was having chendol when i sampled the chendol-flavoured ice cream – its texture was very sorbet-like but i think it works well that way because it really resembles the dessert! as for coffee hazelnut, i have to say that i’m not a fan. it sounded really enticing so i very excitedly gave it a try, but was very disappointed to find that it tasted like the snow skin of mooncake?! to me, at least! but once again, its a popular flavour, so to each his own!

the great part about brownice is that they understand that their ice creams might taste a little different from the equivalent flavour of regular ice cream and are therefore extremely willing to let you sample all the flavours before ordering. and i really think this is important to make sure that you really love what you are getting! because in my case for example, i didn’t like banana oats or coffee hazelnut as much as i thought i would! oh and interestingly, i thought the ice cream tasted better in scoops than in the little bits i sampled of the flavours. i thought its texture resembled that of regular ice cream more when it was had in scoops.

besides ice cream, they also serve some hot vegan food:
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oh and i heard the mudpie is worth trying too! and they also do ice cream cakes, and ice cream tub deliveries.

healthy low(er)-fat ice cream that tastes just as good as regular ice cream? what’s there not to love? 🙂

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Brownice 

8 Sin Ming Road
Sin Ming Centre #01-03
Singapore 575628