The windows outside SimplyRaw Express look frosty, but inside, the space is bright, cozy and blooming with life. Behind the counter, owner Natasha Kyssa blitzes up a fresh smoothie for a waiting customer. The aptly named “Super Immunity Smoothie” is a vibrant blend of orange, mango, banana, flax, goji, turmeric, ginger, cayenne and maple syrup. Natasha states, “It is one of our most popular orders during cold and flu season – it really works!” In addition, SimplyRaw Express offers a wide variety of cold-pressed juices, packed with 100% fresh organic fruits and vegetables. Natasha’s favourite is the “Alkalize Juice”, an amazing combination of organic kale, romaine lettuce, celery, cucumber and lemon.
SimplyRaw offers more than just raw food. Those seeking warmer fare may opt for a hearty soup, colourful vegan curry, gluten-free “better breakfast bagel” or the veggie-packed quinoa bowl. All dishes listed on the menu are 100% plant-based and gluten-free, and all are made from scratch with the finest ingredients. And be sure to leave space for dessert! Natasha is famous for her cashew-based “Cheezecakes”, “Super Goji Fudge”, “Raw Nanaimo Bars” and “Better Pecan Squares.”
There are three generations working at the café, with Natasha’s mother and son pitching in daily. “My ninety-year-old mother owned The Pantry, a vegetarian tea room in the Glebe Community Centre; so this is kind of in my DNA,” says Natasha.
Natasha found her passion for a raw food lifestyle after dealing with her own health challenges. Watch her TEDx talk “Let Food Be Thy Medicine” to hear her personal journey, “Food is so powerful – it can work for or against us,” says Natasha. After switching to an all-raw diet almost thirty years ago, Natasha has since written two bestselling books, facilitated hundreds of cooking classes and cleansing programs, and opened SimplyRaw Express on Wellington Street West.
“By making small, simple changes, individuals can see a huge difference in their health,” says Natasha. The cleansing programs at SimplyRaw are gentle transitions, in which participants are encouraged to make dietary changes that are sustainable.
“The feedback we get is fantastic and I have a lot of people who come back to do the cleanses again,” says Natasha. Clients are pleasantly surprised at how simple and delicious the recipes are. Natasha’s mother contributed 20 recipes to her most recent book, The SimplyRaw Kitchen (endorsed by Bif Naked and Mariel Hemingway), adding a hot and hearty twist to the raw element of Natasha’s cooking.
Natasha is cooking with skill and passion, and she has managed to give us something amazing in the process. But almost more importantly, she’s cooking with heart. Which is, over and over again, everything we could possibly want.