Never understanding how one could eat another animal, at around 10-years old, Monje announced to her parents she was vegetarian and never ate meat again. It would be a long journey of finding what worked for her, becoming vegan, then Pescetarian and focusing on plant-based, whole foods after more dietary restrictions came up. Upon being forced to go gluten and corn free, Monje saw there were limited options available at gatherings and when eating out. Monje and Matt's young daughter was also sensitive to sugar, artificial food and additives and we found going out for ice cream or dessert to be a real headache and not enjoyable. Growing up in a large Italian family, there was an overabundance of pasta and beautiful, sugar-filled desserts. At first, Monje was devastated with her restrictions. She's loved to bake since she was a little girl. She could possibly live without real food, but she could NOT live without dessert! She relearned to bake delicious Gluten Free goodies.
In a little shop in Seattle, Monje discovered raw "cheesecakes" and was inspired. She researched and retaught herself how to make gluten-free and dairy-free desserts that looked good and tasted even better. She began using her CSA fruits, veggies and greens and invested in a Vitamix to make yummy smoothies and bowls. She noticed both preparing and eating these foods made her feel better. She also enjoyed the meditative quality of creating the food and eating it, vs. throwing whatever quick food mindlessly into her body. Other people enjoyed the treats, including her husband, Matt, who has a donut addiction, but also has dairy intolerance and battles Crohn's disease.
At Raw Monje, we use organic plant-based blended whole foods ingredients whenever possible. We use ingredients in their purest forms including roots, fruits, herbs and seeds. Many treats are kept frozen or refrigerated. Some are baked at a low temperature to keep the nutritional composition of the ingredients intact. We don’t use refined white sugar, and instead use healthier alternatives and less of it, including: brown rice syrup, honey (*no honey in our vegan treats, but we do use it in some seasonal “cheesecake” flavors), pure maple syrup and coconut sugar. Most of the recipes are nut-, coconut- and fruit-based (but suitable to people who don’t like a coconut texture). We don’t mess with items that will never taste good gluten-free but instead create new items that are just plain delicious. Monica is a graphic designer by trade, so every dessert is carefully designed to be aesthetically beautiful.
We want to bring good quality food to all the people and help people celebrate daily life and special occasions in a healthier way. At any local restaurant or cafe, we want there to be an option Every Body can eat because it's THAT good. Our ultimate goal is to have a beautiful community cafe/space where people just want to go and where anyone can order whatever they want off the menu and receive a beautiful and well-made treat and warming or cooling drink. People will enter and feel good upon arriving and feel even better upon leaving. Then we want to multiply these across the US and North America to start.
We witness the effects low quality food has on the planet and our people, physically and mentally, and we are working to change that. We are proud of the ingredients and superfoods that go into our recipes and that they are made by hand with love and pure intention. We are especially proud that people can feed these desserts to their children and that children love and even beg for them!
Once we are fully up and running, we are looking to give back financial support specifically for Fibromyalgia and Lyme Disease, as these illnesses desperately need funding, awareness and research. The best way to stay in touch is to sign up for our monthly emails and follow us @rawmonje.