O2 Live Food Café—Flavorful Raw Vegan Menu


Among the rustic buildings of Yellow Monkey Village (see our previous story) you will find the O2 Live Food Café where Chef Tom Donnelly is offering diners a raw vegan menu that is sure to blow your mind.

A raw vegan diet excludes all food of animal origin and all food prepared above 48 degree Celsius. Though there are many variations on the diet, those following a strict vegan diet believe that anything that once had a soul should not enter their body.

A raw vegan diet includes raw vegetables, fruits, nuts, grain, seeds, legume sprouts, plant oils, sea vegetables, herbs and fresh juices.

During my visit to the café I enjoyed a beautifully orchestrated raw vegan tasting menu courtesy of Chef Tom Donnelly.

We started the tasting with orange, vanilla bean and coconut water smoothie. The smoothie was refreshing and tasted like a creamsicle, and it was served in a BPI certified compostable cup made from corn.

Following the smoothie was a veggie spring roll; an assortment of fresh vegetables wrapped in rice paper. The roll was beautifully presented like a sushi roll, with an orange reduction for dipping on the side.

Next was the yellow watermelon and cucumber soup with mint and blueberry puree. The soup was cool and light, with the hint of mint in the after taste. The cucumber cuts the sweetness of the watermelon and the two flavors were both distinguishable without over powering each other. This was one of my favorites at the café and if it were possible to order this as a smoothie, I would.

After the amazing soup came the café’s signature vegan “pizza.” The “pizza” was composed of a toasted sprout grain tortilla, oregano walnut hummus, dehydrated tomato sauce, basil pesto, avocado and lemon presented atop a simple salad of greens, lime juice, extra virgin olive oil and Himalayan salt. Donnelly only uses Himalayan salt due to its mineral content. The salad was uncomplicated, simple greens with a light dressing, a nice alternative to salads often served as sides, and a nice accompaniment to the “pizza” which was just bursting with flavor. The tomato sauce was delectable, the dehydration process concentrated the flavor, making it much sweeter than a traditional sauce.

The sample sized fruit parfait was presented in tea cups. Since vegans do not eat yogurt, that portion of the parfait was made by processing young Thai coconut, local honey and vanilla bean until it assumed the consistency of yogurt. Fresh blueberries, strawberries, gluten free granola and raw chocolate sauce topped the “yogurt.”

Following the parfait was an assortment of sorbets; strawberry vanilla, blackberry mint and berry lemon, garnished by candied lemon zest. The strawberry vanilla sorbet tasted just like ice cream, minus the guilt and calories, and the blueberry had a clean flavor that went great with the candied lemon zest. The blackberry was the sweetest of the three and would be a great way to get children to eat healthier treats.

When Chef Donnelly started at O2 he had no prior knowledge of the raw foods diet and with the help of the Living Light Culinary Institute in Northern California and a few raw foods cook books he created the menu at O2. Though Donnelly is not a vegan himself through the process of trial and error, he has produced simple and flavorful dishes for vegan diners.

“I have a lot of culinary experiences so it’s easier for me to make things look better, but flavor profiles are what it comes down to,” he explained. “If you enjoy putting it in your mouth and it gives you pleasure, you know it’s setting off your endorphins when you’re chewing and you’re swallowing, then you made a home-run. So its kind of trial and error.” Donnelly said that most of the dishes on the café’s menu include five ingredients or less, but they are packed with flavor. “They play off each other and build flavor profiles so its enjoyable,” Donnelly said.

Cucumber Mint Raw Live Soup

1. 6-8 Sprigs of Mint
2. 2 Cucumbers peeled
3. 1 qt. Yellow Melon chopped

1. Peel Cucumber, chop, medium dice
2. Clean melon, de-seed, chop melon, medium dice
3. Sprig and wash mint
4. Place all in blender and puree


1. 2.5 qt. Tomato
2. 1 Jalapeño
3. 2 cloves of garlic
4. 1/5 bunch of cilantro
5. 1 large cucumber
6. ½ tsp cumin
7. salt

1. Wash and de-stem tomatoes
2. Clean jalapeños, no seeds or pith
3. Peel garlic
4. Wash cilantro
5. Place all in blender and pulse
6. Add salt to taste

Carrot Fennel Raw Live Soup

1. 1 qt. carrot juice (approx. 2 lbs.)
2. 1 head of fennel
3. 2 each cucumbers, peeled
4. 2 each avocado
5. 4 oz. water
6. salt

1. Juice carrots and fennel, place in mixing bowl
2. In blender, put avocado and cucumber and puree
3. Add pureed mixture to carrot and fennel juice
4. Add salt to taste

Blackberry Mint Organic Sorbet

1. 1 qt. blackberries
2. 10 sprigs of mint
3. 8 oz. vegan simple syrup
4. 4 oz. water

1. Wash and freeze berries
2. Wash sprig of mint
3. Place all in blender and puree

Strawberry Vanilla Organic Sorbet

1. 1qt strawberries
2. ½ vanilla bean
3. 8 oz. vegan simple syrup
4. 4 oz. water

1. Wash and destem berries, then freeze
2. Split and scrape vanilla bean
3. Vegan simple syrup (1/2 water & ½ vegan sugar, boil)
4. Place all in blender and puree

Blueberry Lemon Organic Sorbet

1. 1 qt. blueberries
2. 1 ½ Lemons
3. 8 oz. vegan Simple Syrup

1. Wash and freeze berries
2. Peel and de-seed lemons
3. Add vegan simple syrup, berries and lemon in blender and puree

O2 Live Food Café
6 Yellow Monkey Village
Route 35, Cross River
Open Monday, Wednesday and Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tuesday and Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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