Sunday, August 16, 2009

Interview with Nwenna Kai + Giveaway!

On July 7, I announced that Nwenna Kai was coming to Maryland. Although I couldn't make it to Roots Market that day, I was still able to interview her. Nwenna is best known as the creator, founder, and culinary designer of Taste of the Goddess Cafe, one of LA's pioneering organic raw foods cafe, catering companies, and product lines in the Los Angeles area. She has designed the raw vegan product line for the company Foodology, Inc. Her raw food creations are available in over 30 Whole Foods Markets in the southern California area. Below is our interview:

What was the catalyst that brought you to raw food?
About ten years ago while I was grad student studying creative writing at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I was eating a mostly cooked vegan diet full of tofu, tempeh, and other meat substitute processed foods and I kept getting sick. My most annoying problem was constipation so I intuitively thought that if I ate more salads and fresh juices, I would go to the bathroom, so that’s what I did in the dead of winter in Chicago, I ate only salads and fresh juices. I felt crazy inside. I didn't know what I was doing but it relieved my constipation. Months later a friend of mine took me to Karyn’s Fresh Corner in Chicago and my jaw dropped! I was amazed at all the wonderful foods that you could eat. So I started buying books and equipment and I just experimented in my kitchen at home.

Why did you decide to open a restaurant?
I moved to LA in 2003 as a raw foodist and so I naturally surrounded myself with people who ate like me. After making food in my home kitchen for the local gourmet health food stores, I looked to do more catering and products and needed a commercial kitchen. After driving along Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood, I spotted the small coffee shop that I turned into my restaurant. Years later we moved to a bigger location. I didn’t have any restaurant experience and very little capital but something inside wanted to do this.

What is your advice to someone who wants to start her own business?
Whoah. Eat your greens because you are going to need them. To start a business and to continue to run a business takes passion, drive, a willingness to step out of your comfort zone, a willingness to transform your spiritual life, and a sincere effort to solve a problem. I think the path of being an entrepreneur is a spiritual path designed to teach you how to master your life. Now that’s sexy. Coming in on a mission, living out your mission, helping others and at the same time fulfilling your desires and if you allow yourself to be expansive enough, making millions and perhaps billions of dollars from it.

What is your absolute favorite food to eat?
Kale and portobello mushrooms.

What do you eat on a daily basis?
I keep it simple. I drink a grapefruit juice or a green juice or a berry smoothie in the morning. In the summertime, I live off of coconuts. I graze all day. I eat simply, watermelon for dinner, a kale salad with olive oil and salt, some sliced tomatoes with olive oil and salt, a peach after dinner, celery sticks and nut butter, maybe some banana ice cream at night. Eating like this requires a different way to think. Who would think about eating watermelon for dinner but I will tell you I’m full and feeling good afterwards.

What are your top two pieces of advice for someone just starting out in his/her raw food journey?
Take it slow and listen to your body and to your taste buds. Too often we listen to what other people tell us what to eat and how to eat. If you look at what I eat all day, people ask where is your protein, where is this, where is that. I tell them I haven’t been sick in nine years, case closed. My body isn’t missing anything. We have to understand that our bodies are needing and wanting different things at a different time. We don’t need as much protein as we think. What we need on a daily basis is oxygen.If your body is craving salt, eat salt, but grab some Himalayan salt. If your body is craving sugar, grab for some agave nectar or make a fruit smoothie. Your cravings are telling you exactly what your body is needing.

What is your life's philosophy?
Keep it simple and easy and don’t waste anything. That includes food, money, time, resources, energy, and emotions. We waste so much and then we complain that we don’t have enough of something. I’m convinced that that is the reason why so many of us are always financially challenged. We waste too much.

Any parting words you'd like to share with Raw Mocha Angel readers?
I really hope that black people really make a breakthrough with our health soon. I hear too many times from our people, "I would buy your book but I like my fried chicken too much" or when I had my restaurant people would say to me, "I would come to your restaurant but I gotta have my pork chops." You don’t have to be 100% raw in order to enjoy raw foods. I don’t know where that thinking comes from. It's why I don’t like to label myself a raw foodist. It sets you up to always have to fit into a category or some sort of group. Just because you eat fried chicken doesn’t mean you can’t have wheatgrass the next day.

There is absolutely nothing that we cannot heal, nothing. And I mean the big diseases like cancer, HIV, diabetes, obesity, anger, poverty (yes, poverty is a disease), constipation, headaches. But we have to change our diets which means we have to change our lifestyles.

Thank you so much, Nwenna!


Nwenna was kind enough to offer one lucky Raw Mocha Angel reader a copy of her new book The Goddess of Raw Foods. All you have to do to win is answer one question:

- "What's the funniest comment you've ever heard when you told someone that you're a raw vegan, or even interested in becoming one, or even said the term "raw vegan" in a sentence?"
- Leave a workable email address you check regularly at the end of your post so I can contact you if you win.

- You have until Monday, August 24 by 11:59pm to post your comment
- I will randomly pick and announce a winner on Tuesday, August 25 by 11:59pm. I will also email the winner by that time.

That's it! Good luck to everyone!



ChocolateOrchid said...

Great interview!!

I'm not sure it's funny but the response I got was, "You are gonna use common sense, aren't you?". And of course, it was accompanied by that "Whaaat?" look.

Jennifer Fuller-The Everyday Organic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer Fuller-The Everyday Organic said...

No words, just laughter. Was it something I said....

Althea said...

The funniest comment I got was around me feeding my children a vegan diet. My mother and step-father were visiting us..this was two years ago. I made everyone "milk" shakes. My step-father had a chocolate milk shake. He was quiet while he drank it. But when he finished, the milk shake recieved a very back-handed compliment. He said, "Hmmm...I see my grandchildren aren't suffering as much as I thought."

That comment still makes me laugh.

Althea said...

From Stephanie:

Besides the usual "how do you get your protein?", when I said that I like prunes, my niece said to me"what do you need prunes for eating the way you do aren't you always regular, man you must have the cleanest colon."

My e-mail is Thank you, Stephanie

Althea said...

From Shanna:

The funniest comment that I heard was, "What you mean raw? Does that mean it will turn your teeth green??". I almost died laughing when my nephew's mother
said that to me . . .

Althea said...

From Monica:

I love your blog and the interview was great. The funniest and most ridiculous thing I've ever heard when I announced that I was going RAW for 30 days was, "you need to be careful or you might end up in the hospital eating like that!" Haahahahhahahah.....I can see from this interview that it will be quite the opposite.

Althea said...

From Dana:

Hi Althea, the funniest comment from someone when I told them that I was going to become a raw vegan was "man, raw foods? girl you are going to be sick all the time eating all healthy and stuff."...... really?????

Althea said...

From Carmelita:

Hi Raw Mocha Angel:

I think the funniest comment I've heard when I mentioned raw foods is: "Raw foods? What is that? What do you mean?" It left me stumped for an explanation because they did not have the slightest clue what raw foods is.

Carmelita Taylor

deLange said...

Hi Nwenna,

I haven't been to the restaurant for a while, because of my health, but love it!

Funniest comment? "Oh, so you're going to eat your meat raw".


taz said...

the funniest comment I heard is....
"How raw are you?"

Shannon Marie said...

"You're like a dog eating grass out of the yard." The same person also calls me the yoga loving cat lady.

Thanks for all of your great ideas and inspiring lifestyle.

Mandy said...

"Well, at least you can still eat cookie dough!"

The great thing is I can, just not that SAD crap, good stuff, like raw choc, nuts, dates and bananas!
Awesome interview!

Althea said...

from Akua:

I was talking to a lady in south central Los Angeles about healthy eating and the fact that our people don't know about the food that's making us sick, she said she does eat healthy she has her fried chicken, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and corn bread which is a balanced meal of meat for protein, mashed potatoes and corn bread for vegetables and macaroni and cheese for calcium.

I told her the truth about these foods and I also told her that I am a raw foodist and she moved her bangs to the side and said "what is you mooooslum?" (which was supposed to be muslim).

Althea said...

From Zakia:

I have to say that there are two funny statements that I have heard about eating raw or becoming a raw foodist. They are "Won't you get worms if you eat all of that raw red meat?" "Oh my God, how will you get your calcium and protein intake?" I have also heard, "You won't catch me eating anything raw!!" By the way, the same person who said this to me about not eating anything raw, eats salads, fruits salads, and other fruit as well along with their cooked meals.

Zakia Gates
Creator and Founder of Zakia's Zen Garden
Reiki Inspired Soy Candles and Natural products for the mind, body, and spirit
Reiki Certified Practitioner, Level One

Zenith Rising said...

Hi Althea,

The funniest comment I heard was: So, what are you going to eat? My response: fresh fruits, nuts and seeds. Their next response: I mean, what are you going to eat? My response: Same. Their response, that's all, no meat? How you gonna survive just eating that????

It's definitely a challenge at times.

Love ya.

Kristen's Raw said...

Super interview! Thanks! :)


Anonymous said...

"I cannot imagine not biting into meat...that is not for me."

Anonymous said...

"I cannot imagine not biting into meat, nope, I want be able to do it."


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