Au naturel

Cast aside preconceptions about ‘raw’ and ‘vegan’ at House of Nature’s Own

IN THE RAW<br>Nature’s Own’s open kitchen brings he preparation closer to the diner.

Nature’s Own’s open kitchen brings he preparation closer to the diner.

Photo By Andrew Boost

House of Nature’s Own
117 Broadway, Chico
Phone: 342-1188
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Sat. and Sun. 1-9 p.m.

House of Nature’s Own

117 Broadway
Chico, CA 95928

(530) 342-1188

As sustainable eating practices gain momentum, the raw/vegan diet is finding mainstream popularity. Celebrities have given the movement exposure, and cookbooks touting raw food seem to be sprouting up left and right.

Here in Chico, House of Nature’s Own focuses on using fresh, locally grown and/or organic ingredients to make healthful, delicious meals that are raw and vegan.

The raw/vegan diet excludes meat and dairy products, and dictates that all food should be eaten raw, or uncooked. It is thought the enzymes present in the fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and sprouted grains and legumes aid in digestion and that raw food contains more nutrients than cooked food, which loses some vitamins and minerals in the heating process. Thus, at Nature’s Own, raw food is prepared under 118 degrees and sweeteners include maple syrup and natural agave.

To many people, the words “raw” and “vegan” immediately conjure up tasteless, bland dishes; the food served here is anything but. I’ve come to love many options on the menu, and find the meals to be incredibly flavorful.

The interior is quite simple, but retains an elegance in the deep red napkins, marble countertops and soft lighting. The faux flowers in planters, however, came as a surprise. Like the food, I thought perhaps the indoor plants would be alive.

For an appetizer, try the apple, hummus and crackers platter ($6.50); the hummus—made from sesame tahini, raw cashews and zucchini—is scrape-the-bowl good. The cabo tostada ($7.50) is also delicious. Four crunchy tortillas piled high with sunflower seed “refried beans,” walnut “ground beef,” and cashew “cheese” and “sour cream” make this tostada a filling starter for two. Spinach salad was piled high around the tostadas and covered in lemon agave oil.

One of the many raw/vegan dishes served at House of Nature’s Own.

Photo By Andrew Boost

I soon found out that the spinach salad with its lemony accompaniment is standard with several menu options. Unfortunately, the intensely sour flavor of the lemon dressing seeps into whatever else you’re eating from the same plate; our tostadas were soggy and distractingly sour. Next time, I’ll ask for the dressing on the side, if at all, so I can focus on the amazing flavors of their dishes.

The living lasagna ($9) has quickly become my favorite item on the menu. Thinly sliced zucchini, cashew “ricotta,” sun dried tomato marinara sauce and basil almond pesto create a taste so divine I can’t help but come back for more.

The pizzas ($8.50) are prepared on a sunflower seed crust that is so delicious, I’d eat it plain. For dinner. Every night of the week. Unfortunately, the lemon dressing was also present, making the crust of my tropical pizza soggy and sour.

The spicy Thai vegetable wraps ($8.50), with mango, carrots, chili almond cream and cashews, are wrapped up in soft butter leaf lettuce, and are quite divine. To accompany dinner, the menu offers a full page of smoothies, drinks, teas and elixirs; try the mango and coconut tango ($3.50), Knudsen organic mango and pear juice, mixed with coconut water.

At House of Nature’s Own, the food is of excellent quality, but I’ve found the consistency of the recipes to be lacking. Seasonal ingredients aside, the meal should look and taste roughly the same, regardless of which chef prepared it. The service is warm and friendly, but also often forgetful and spacy.

The desserts ($5) are unbelievable. I dare anyone to sample a piece of their mocha cream pie and not swoon. Double-dog dare for the chocolate ganache; the dollop of coconut cream gracing the top is a tease of rich but subtle sweetness. The coconut apple crepes and the vanilla cheesecake are also not to be missed. The list of sweets has grown for the holidays, including seasonal favorites like pumpkin pie.

In the midst of the gluttony of the season, make sure to treat yourself to a live, organic, vegan dessert that tastes much more sinful than it is. Enjoy it with a cup of cold-pressed fair trade coffee; it’s good for you!