Apryl Electra likes her meatloaf vegan (and uncooked)

By day, Apryl Electra is a raw vegan personal chef who slings terms like "cashew cheese" and "zucchini noodles" on her blog, Rawmacitas (that garlic-herb "cheese" dip looks tasty). By night, Electra is a singer-songwriter on the cusp of releasing her second album in which she plays all the instruments. Before hitting the stage for her September 23 CD release/listening party at Clubhouse Jager, Electra divulged the benefits of raw vegan living.

1. How, when, and why did you go raw/vegan? I grew up eating mostly vegetarian foods but was constantly battling congestion and excess mucus. It wasn't until 2000 that I dropped dairy for good and finally started feeling better. I have tried dabbling in eating animal products here and there over the years. They just always seem to affect me negatively. I stayed vegan after I found out how most animals bred for food are raised and handled. I wasn't happy to find out what was actually in the meat I had eaten growing up and, for that matter, what the animal itself had eaten. Maybe I'm just a sensitive person. I just can't stand the thought of a feeling and thinking creature living a miserable life or the thought that I'm chewing on a piece of it's body. I went raw vegan almost four years ago. One day I noticed that the only green thing I had eaten for a while was one green pepper. I barely ate any fruit at that time. Now I eat mostly fruit and salads with the occasional raw gourmet meal, time providing. I had always been skeptical of those on some magical, living-foods diet until I did my research and tried it out for myself. My health has improved greatly, and my digestive system is so much happier.

2. What's one of your favorite recipes to make as a personal chef? Are you known for a particular dish? I make a great nutloaf that tastes quite like meatloaf. It's better than any TVP or gluten mock-meat I've ever had. My clients request that quite a bit. I also make a delicious raw vegan lasagna... thinly sliced zucchini for noodles, fluffy pine nut ricotta, pesto, marinara, fresh basil. All uncooked, of course. However, I'm known for my dressings, sauces, and cheeses. I have been asked for my cheese recipe so many times I finally posted it on my blog a couple of weeks ago. I'm pretty much addicted to the various types of wraps that I make.

3. Are more people switching to raw and/or vegan diets? Has it caused an increase in demand for your services as a chef? I think people are starting to find out where their food comes from. As people become more informed about what they're eating they tend to make better choices, for themselves, the animals, and the environment. One uses less energy in the kitchen eating more uncooked foods. People are always quite surprised at how satiated they feel after eating a raw vegan meal. There's also no "food coma," which means more energy in general. I remember how amazing I felt after the first two weeks of my raw journey. I had never slept so well, and the chronic pain I've suffered with for years diminished significantly. Starting out can be scary or intimidating because people wonder what in the world does a raw vegan eat. That's why I started my blog, Rawmacitas, a couple of years ago. I hope that more and more people begin to discover that how we eat really does have a connection to how we feel.

4. Do you ever crave non-raw or non-vegan foods? If so, what? Do you ever crack? Eating cooked vegan food, in my mind, is like skipping a workout. It's not ideal but it happens. I have a weakness for pommes frites or a gluten-free, vegan pizza topped with olives, green peppers, spinach, and mushrooms. I also love avocado nori rolls with wheat-free tamari. I definitely feel the difference when indulging in cooked vegan foods. I get what I call a "cooked food headache." There's no fun in restricting oneself completely, but it doesn't always feel the greatest. I never noticed how awful certain foods made me feel until I had a better state of well-being to compare it to.

5. What are some of your favorite places to eat out in Minneapolis/St. Paul that offer raw/vegan dishes? I love the falafel wrap and the Eco-sausage pizza at the Ecopolitan. Meals like that involve days of sprouting and dehydration and are only fun to make at home when I'm sharing them with other people. I'm also something of a regular (with a bottle of wheat-free tamari in tow) at Mt. Fuji in Uptown. They have an awesome happy hour with vegan sushi options.

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