CUISINE / RESTAURANT REVIEWS Grocery / Product Kitsilano Lebanese Vancouver Vegetarian / Vegan

Nuba (Kitsilano) & the Ra Energy 7 day challenge

A couple of weeks ago Wendy and I attended the Ra Energy product launch at Nuba in Kitsilano.  Ra Energy is a local company that produces seed mixtures to top your favourite foods with to add texture, flavour, and nutritional value.  Ra comes in garlic, plain, and naturally sweet varieties.  They teamed up with Nuba for their launch party to allow attendees to sample all three versions of their product in a variety of the restaurant’s dishes.  We took on Ra Energy’s 7 day challenge, but here’s the Nuba portion first:

Nuba and Ra Energy: Red Lentil Soup

To get us started as soon as we walked in we had Red Lentil Soup ($4).  The soup was blended and creamy in texture, and we both found the garlic flavour Ra was a great addition.  They don’t use sodium in any of their products, so they add a lot of garlic powder to ensure flavour in this blend.  It also has a nutty flavour and a crunchy texture that worked well in the soup.

Nuba and Ra Energy: Adam Hart

Once everybody had arrived the founder of Ra Energy (and author of healthy eating book The Power of Food), Adam Hart, gave us a pep talk about his product.  All I can say is this guy is living proof that Ra Energy works; he was so animated and full of energy that I had to snap quite a few pics before I finally got one of him standing still!  The enthusiasm was contagious and everybody was in a great mood when we sat down to partake.

Nuba and Ra Energy: Fattoush Salad

The Fattoush Salad ($9.50) consisted of organic greens, tomato, cucumber, and grated carrot with a garlic-lemon-sumac dressing and pita chips sprinkled on top.  The salad was refreshing and interesting enough on its own, but things really started humming when we added the texture of plain Ra Energy to it.  Once again, the Ra really enhanced the dish.

Nuba and Ra Energy: Vegan Stew and Mjadra

This was a combination of two of their many vegetarian dishes:  vegan stew on the left and mjadra on the right($7.50 each).  The unassuming looking mjadra was our fave.  It looked like plain old organic green lentils, but the spice mix they used was intense and diverse.  Plus the caramelized onion on top was a great addition.  According to their menu it normally comes with rice and avocado.  I make this kind of thing at home with mixed results so I would have loved to get my hands on their recipe!  The vegan stew had tomatoes, onions, and chickpeas.  This one was probably the most “meh” inducing of the night.  Slightly spicy and a little on the sweet side, with tomato as the dominant flavour.  The pink stuff in the middle was pickled cabbage which also came with a few other dishes and was a good palate cleanser between bites.  I think at this point we forgot our toppers for a while…

Nuba and Ra Energy: Chicken Shish Tawook

Yay, meat!  We got our protein fix with an order of Chicken Shish Tawook ($9), skewers of Mount Lehman chicken breast drizzled with tahini.  This is normally served with hummus and avocado.  The spice rub and the sauce made it quite tasty.

Nuba and Ra Energy: Baba Ganooj

This one’s baba ganooj ($7.75) sprinkled with paprika.  It was creamy smoky goodness, which we sampled on both toasted and regular pita bread.  The pita bread is thin and pocket style, cut into sections.  This works well as you can either dip it or spread filling in it like a sandwich.  We also tried some hummus ($6.50) which was a serviceable version of the Middle Eastern classic.

Nuba and Ra Energy: Rice Pudding

We got to try the naturally sweet topper on rice pudding with cardamom, pistachios and a mint leaf.  I’m not a fan of rice pudding so I don’t think I would have liked this with or without topper, so here’s Wendy’s take instead: it was a bit thick but it had lots of flavour from the spices and wasn’t overly sweet.  She found the topper “interesting” on it but was pretty neutral either way.

This was our second visit to Nuba; we had a family dinner at the Hastings location a while back and enjoyed our meals both times.  We were entertaining a vegetarian aunt on our first visit, and if you’re dining out with a mix of vegetarian and carnivores Nuba is a great go-to spot since there’s plenty to please both.

Nuba and Ra Energy: Ra Energy Shakers

Ra Energy promotes a 7 day challenge with their product so we were invited to take it before doing a write up.  Ra Energy is first and foremost a food topper, but given its nutritional profile they are also claiming a few health benefits: fewer food cravings, more energy, and better sleep.  Given the “challenges” similar health products ask for (such as this one here) which require multiple products and lifestyle changes that would make ANYONE feel better, Ra Energy’s is refreshingly simple.  Use their $2 coupon from their website raenergyfoods.com to buy any of their products and add a tablespoon to each meal, for a total of 3 tablespoons per day.  After seven days you should be noticing a difference.  I guess this is where I should add a disclaimer: we already eat pretty healthy and routinely add things like chia seeds and flax to our diet (both of which are Ra ingredients) so we were probably poor candidates for the challenge.  So while after 7 days we didn’t notice any of the changes listed, that doesn’t mean that others won’t.  I’d say that if you aren’t already getting this stuff in your diet it’s worth trying the challenge for yourself.

Nuba and Ra Energy: Ra Energy Bags

But disregarding the lack of benefits we got from it in the well-being department, how does it stack up as a food topper?  Pretty darn well actually.  We tried it on all sorts of foods, and having all three flavours on hand really lets you add it to absolutely anything.  An extremely versatile product, it went the best in soups, salads, noodle dishes, smoothies and yoghurt, plus mixed into grains like rice and especially quinoa.  But really the possibilities are endless.  Plain is obviously the most versatile but we found ourselves reaching for garlic the most.  The (very mildly) sweet version uses low glycemic monk fruit powder as sweetener, which has kind of a licorice taste to it. All three have a pleasant nutty taste to them, but I think we appreciated the slightly crunchy texture it added to dishes more than anything.

The toppers are an organic mix of shelled hemp, unhulled sesame, sprouted buckwheat, flax, and chia seeds.  40% of that is the hemp.  If you take in the recommended 3 tablespoons per day you’re getting an extra 4 g fiber and 7 g protein plus it’s high in EFAs, iron, magnesium, zinc and manganese.  So it’s a pretty easy and convenient way to healthify your diet a bit.  The price is pretty reasonable considering the cost of some of these ingredients on their own, with the shakers going for $10.99 (227 g) and the bags at $16.99 (454 g).  These were the Save On Foods prices as of posting.  We’re definitely enjoying the freebies and will most likely re-up when our supply runs out.

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