A Vegetable Garden Party on Sprouted Buckwheat Pizza – Photo Spotlight on Raw, Vegan Pizza by Earth & City!

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Oh, pizza, how we love thee.  You’re the center of attention at sleepovers and childhood school lunch parties, you’re the one thing most people with differing tastes can agree on ordering, and you rank pretty high on the list of ultimate comfort foods.  However, as delicious as you are, you can pose quite a few food problems for some people!  Sure, vegetarians can be ready and willing to consume infinite slices of veggie pizza full of roasted, grilled, and sauteed vegetables with melted cheesy goodness, but where does that leave the lactose intolerant and vegans?  So where does that leave us?  Earth & City‘s cheeseless, raw vegan pizza to the rescue! 

After sadly passing on it during my first farmers’ visit to Wychwood Barns, I was lucky enough to snatch a jolly big slice at the newest Lunchtime Office Market at the ING Direct Cafe earlier this month.  Cassandra and Lisa of Earth & City don’t make the pizzas for every single market they do (it’s a rotating menu item as opposed to a permanent fixture), so my timing felt extra special this time around!  I was so excited I literally threw my coat and bag on the table by the window and scampered back to Earth & City’s spot to claim my lunch before it disappeared.  Their vegan pizzas are perfect for those who face food allergies and intolerances left and right because they’re gluten and wheat free, dairy-free, and nut-free.  If you have a soy allergy, I’d be cautious just because Earth & City lists wheat-free tamari on their list of ingredients, but I’d ask just to make sure as it really depends on the amount and levels.   

Earth & City’s raw vegan pizza changes throughout the year based on seasonal ingredients and whatever vegetables are fresh, but the one thing that is always constant is the pizza base.  Made with sprouted buckwheat, soaked flax seed, and dried herbs, the crusts are dehydrated overnight* and they firm up into thin, sturdy crusts.  My big slice was covered with sweet sundried tomato sauce (think tomato paste in consistency), raw mushrooms and grape tomatoes, and a generous helping of bright green sunflower sprouts.  I know soy cheese and Daiya cheese are also both viable options to use in vegan pizza-making, but this pizza truly gives new meaning to veggie pizza – it’s like having a garden on your pizza pie!          

The flavours and methods are totally and completely different because for one, it’s a raw pizza and second, the flavours are much more of a mix of sweet and savoury.  The sweetness from the honey dates in the flatbread crust, as well as from the tomato sauce, hits you full force and it gives the rest of the raw vegetables more complexity in flavour.  It envelopes and anchors everything while allowing the freshness of the vegetables to shine.  The pizza is incredibly hearty and so full of nutrients and healthy things for the body including dietary fiber and antioxidants straight from the soaked flax seed and honey dates. 

This was truly the healthiest pizza I had ever seen and eaten and the abundance of mushrooms and sunflower sprouts made me so happy.  Vegan pizza is hard to come by so I’m really happy Earth & City makes it on a regular basis, even if it’s not for every single market that they do.  If you want to know which markets will have it, just pop them a message on their Facebook page or on their Twitter @earthandcity, and ask to be included on their weekly newsletter. 

*****

* source = Earth & City’s official website. 

Earth & City is a local raw and vegan food business operating at farmers’ markets across Toronto year-round.  They are currently at 3 markets, with more during the late spring and summer months.  You can find them at the Centre for Social Innovation (Bathurst location at 720 Bathurst Street south of Bloor) on Tuesdays from 11:30am-1:30pm, the ING Direct Cafe (at Yonge & Shuter street just north of Queen Street) on Thursdays from 11:30am-1:30pm, and at The Stop market at Wychwood Barns (76 Wychwood Ave. near St. Clair Ave. West and Christie Street) on Saturdays from 8am-1pm.

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Earth & City’s Nut Burgers, Vegan Pizza, Brownies & Other Raw, Vegan Delights – Wychwood Farmer’s Market, Part III!

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After several months of Earth & City withdrawal, I got the chance to see Cassandra and Lisa again at Wychwood Barns this past Saturday, and just catching a glimpse of all their fresh and colourful food when I first went into the market made me so happy!  Before and during the holidays, Earth & City were all over Toronto: at the Sorauren farmers’ market, at both CSI Lunchtime Markets, at Kensington Market’s Pedestrian Sundays, and The Stop farmers’ market at Wychwood Barns.  While Pedestrian Sundays bid farewell for the year last October and Earth & City’s presence at Sorauren continued up until December, their food has been flying off the tables everywhere else. 

Up until this point, I had only visited Cassandra and Lisa’s Earth & City at the Centre for Social Innovation locations and it had been months since my last trip.  I was beyond excited to finally go to Wychwood’s saturday market and I was extra excited to get my Earth & City fix.  Their raw vegan food has been nothing short of inspiring and delicious and I always look forward to seeing what the girls have in store each time I see them.  Using fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and natural sweeteners, their mostly raw, vegan food is a throwback to traditional, classic non-vegan comfort foods like pizzas, burgers, taco wraps, brownies, and so much more.  I feel so good supporting them and eating their food knowing they’ve put all their heart and effort into creating as many menu items as possible from scratch, from seasonal ingredients, and from products made by other local businesses like ChocoSol.

Earth & City had a number of favourites and staples on hand this past Saturday including their peanut butter thumbprints made from red-skinned natural peanut butter, raw cacao powder, and honey dates, and their spring roll wraps, coconut macaroons, and flatbread bundles and sandwiches.  Along with these favourites, Earth & City brought the raw and vegan smackdown to the market with their sprouted veggie buckwheat pizzas and protein-rich nut burgers!  Everything looked so delicious and amazing.  Their sprouted buckwheat pizzas, made with sprouted buckwheat (read this article to learn more about sprouted buckwheat and how to make yoru own), flax seed, and dried oregano and basil are dehydrated overnight* so that they’re ready to be topped and served.  Their pizzas were covered in sundried tomato sauce, red onion, sunflower sprouts, and plenty of mushrooms.  The perfect cheeseless, vegan pizza!

Next to the pizzas were Earth & City’s vegan nut burgers.  They looked so cute and so scrumptious.  The burgers are made with raw almonds, sunflower seeds, and flax seed and are mixed with dried herbs, olive oil, and white balsamic (take a look at this article to learn more about what white balsamic is and how it differs from dark or regular balsamic vinegar).  They are then shaped into patties that sit on a big, leafy collard green “bun”.  Burgers are then topped with sundried tomato sauce and veggies!  This time around, the burgers were piled high with lush green sunflower sprouts and they looked wonderful.

I had already made plans to go out for veggie brunch with my friend Wini after the market so sadly, I didn’t pick up anything savoury to eat.  Trust that I will get around to inhaling everything Earth & City has to offer though.  I did, however, take away one of their ultra fabulous frosted vegan brownies to save for the ride home at the end of my day and if vegan heaven existed (which I’m sure many of my veg friends will attest there is), I certainly went there via this brownie.

The brownies are made with raw, crushed walnuts and almonds, honey dates, organic raw cacao powder, and sweetened with organic raw agave nectar.  The brownies are then frosted with organic coconut butter mixed with vanilla extract and fruit and/or veggie juice flavouring.  This brownie is what sweet dreams are made of.  It was a dense, moist, ridiculously creamy and flavourful explosion of chocolate and coconut with the slightly grainy texture of crushed nuts throughout.  I am a coconut fiend and I was hit with the most glorious combination of cocout, cacao, and nuts.  Chocolate and coconut is one of those underrated sweet combinations.  Mint chocolate and chocolate peanut butter get so much love and this brownie is an ode (and a kick in the pants to the other two) to the heights that raw chocolate and coconut butter can take us.  It was so rich and naturally sweet and just divine.

This was one very wonderful, memorable farmers’ market experience and now that I’ve been to Wychwood once, I’m never going to want to stop going, ever.

*****

Earth and City appear at several farmers’ markets in the city (most notably the market at Wychwood Barns on Saturday and the CSI Lunchtime markets), as well as Pedestrian Sundays at Kensington Market.  They do catering and orders, so visit their site and blog here for more information on their food, mission, and menu.