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A stack of dense, fluffy pancakes with blueberries, bananas and peanut butter on top and all over — and it isn’t even cheat day yet. Would you believe me if I told you I did not bloat after helping myself to it, as well as the strawberry variant of Aivee Café’s Stack Me Pancakes — and that it is only 160 calories? A pack of SkyFlakes, at 120 calories, is less satisfying. Would you like a chocolate smoothie to go with it? With a name like Choco Overload, who would think — or taste, from its thick, milkshake-like texture — that it can actually flatten your midsection and make your skin glow?
Husband-and-wife doctor duo Aivee and Z Teo have been in the business of making men and women more beautiful from the scalp and abs to the toes, making them more flawless and svelte with one appointment, treatment and procedure at a time at The Aivee Clinics in The Fort, Megamall and Alabang, until they noticed something about their patients. “They kept coming back with the same concerns,” Aivee admits. “Our patients can undergo a lot of procedures but once they leave the clinic you don’t know what they’re eating.”
The Aivee Café was meant to be an area inside their new surgical wellness center The A Institute where patients with long procedures and their companions can hang out and refuel with healthy comfort food like Aivee’s favorite, fish and chips. “Our kids love French fries so we have grilled sweet potatoes,” she says. They also have Rustic Carrot Cake with caramelized yogurt, and celebrity favorite Turmeric Water (with cantaloupe, ginger, honey and lemon juice).
The Aivee Café now makes Doctor Food which in-house nutritionists prepare then deliver to patients on the weight-loss program. “It gives us better control of the patients’ progress. It’s different in that it is medically and prescriptions-based,” Z says.
“This is us giving them a way to live that lifestyle. Some of them don’t know where to get healthy food and who can make them a nutritional plan,” Aivee says.
The doctors, who work 10 to 12 hours in a day, always eat lunch and dinner with meals devised by their nutritionist on weekdays. “We have to be conscious about what we eat. We work hard,” says Aivee. “Weekends are our time for our kids. On Sundays, the kids choose where to eat.”
And what do the kids love? “When we eat out, they always ask for pancakes and waffles,” she says. “I have to be conscious about what my kids eat. I don’t want them to be obese.” Which prompts Z to wonder, “Can we make pancakes that are gluten-free and not sugary? Their taste buds can get conditioned to high sugar food.”
Singapore-based vegan chef Alicia Ann Lip, author of lifestyle guide and recipe book "Raw Vegan in the Fast Lane", has been friends with Z for almost six years and shares common ground with these foodies. When Z asked her to come up with a healthy spin on café food, she whipped up two variants of the Stack Me Pancakes exclusively for The Aivee Café — five layers of gluten-free, oil free and dairy-free pancakes. “No eggs, no milk. The milk I use is nut milk from almonds. The main ingredient is bananas to moisturize the pancakes. We ground the oatmeal so it becomes like flour then add almond milk to bind the batter. Blueberries and bananas are in the batter itself, giving potassium and fiber. The oats are high in fiber and protein. This whole stack is protein packed,” describes Alicia.
“Z wanted to help his patients while they’re waiting to have something detoxifying or anti-aging. I didn’t want to focus on anti-aging, I wanted to focus on the overall health aspect because if you’re healthy overall, all else follows. The weight will melt, you’ll sleep better, you’ll work better,” she says of the idea behind her smoothies.
It resonated with what the doctors have been trying to achieve. “We recommend our patients to watch their weight and make it a lifestyle change, not just because it’s their wedding or they have a party to go to,” Aivee says. “Prevention is better. Eating healthy lessens medical problems later on, especially if you have a strong family history of illness — mine is diabetes, Z’s is cancer. Plus with stress, we have to live healthy.”
All agree you don’t have to go vegan. “It’s a choice but it’s something I can’t do. Z and I love meat. It’s difficult for me to go vegan but I don’t have to. I can still eat beef and chicken but in a more nutritional proportion,” shares Aivee. What’s important is having a balanced nutritional intake. Alicia believes vegans and non-vegans alike can achieve this by ingesting a variety of vegetables and fruits daily. Contrary to popular misconception “not all vegans are protein- or calcium-deficient,” Alicia clarifies, and this is how it’s done: “Eating salads is a good approach but only with juicing can you intake more.”
Aivee agrees, “You don’t have to starve yourself. You can enjoy life. People now are very active, they work and work out. If you crash diet, how can you exercise? We have Chocolate Overload that boosts energy and is not fattening.”
Chocolate Overload has the creaminess of an ice cream milkshake but the bittersweet richness of a ganache. Alicia’s secret is a dash of coffee. “The chocolates I use in my recipe are raw organic cacao, which is from the plant itself. Most restaurants use cocoa powders which are cooked and processed for longer shelf life and all you get is the fat and the flavor. You don’t get the antioxidants. You want to take advantage of raw, uncooked, clean, unprocessed food,” she explains. “To sweeten it, we add dried medjool dates. It’s very high in antioxidants.”
She uses coconut water, not regular water, to bind the ingredients in her smoothies. “It has medium chain triglycerides which converts to pure energy. It has electrolytes to perk you up and get you going throughout the day. It’s anti-bacterial, relieves pain in your stomach and helps with your gut if you have IBS or constipation. It hydrates you and relaxes your muscles. You don’t always have to go for massages. Before I was vegan, I would go for massages twice a week.” “Through food, we take out unnecessary medicines,” Aivee agrees.
As for the beautifying aspect, Alicia points out, “It also has coconut oil to help you reduce your weight by increasing your metabolism. One tablespoon of coconut oil a day can help you flatten your tummy. It’s also good for moisture and hydration. They make your skin glow.”
“The right food can also reduce inflammation,” Z adds. The smoothies are a perfect treat after getting treatments at The A Institute. His favorites from Alicia’s menu is Holy Kale and Beet Me To Life.
“It’s important to focus on your mornings,” Alicia says, who starts her day with the Holy Kale, a big power smoothie now available at Aivee Café which consists of vitamin K, chlorophyll, calcium from its two ingredients, cold-pressed kale and green grapes, making it light and refreshing. “Kale is an overall immunity booster. Green grapes are antioxidants and also sweetens the smoothie with its natural sugars. It’s good to have that in the morning so your body doesn’t scream for potato chips later in the day.”
"Beet Me Alive" smoothie will raise you from the pits of lethargy and hangovers like in the Evanesce seminal ‘90s hit where it gets its name thanks to the exceptionally nutritional beetroot (“calcium, iron, vitamins A and C, folic acid, fiber, manganese, potassium,” Alicia says of the superfood). The Olympian favorite is cold-pressed and sweetened with grapes. It gets its creamy, yogurt-like texture from frozen bananas, it tastes like a treat — except you get energized after, the opposite of sugar crash headaches.
"The Mango and Peanut Butter Baobab" smoothie is powered up by one teaspoon of the South African plant baobab. “One teaspoon of this goodness gives you six times more vitamin C than an orange. The peanut butter (which has no emulsifier, no additives) is for protein. A little cane sugar and salt to taste. I also layer the peanut butter with the mango on top of each other, not mix them, for a surprising texture and taste.”
Acidity is directly related to inflammation, so Alicia’s smoothies help make the body naturally alkaline. Kale-r smoothie has kale, pineapples, bananas, milk. “Aside from fiber and vitamin C, pineapple for acidic stomachs is good because it is alkaline when inside the body.”
She also concocted a refreshing juice drink, the Frozen Strawberry Mock-garita (“Without the alcohol,” she emphasizes) made of coconut water, coconut flesh, herbs, mint, basil, lime juice. “It helps for summer which is all year round here. Pollution also makes our body more acidic because we are breathing in more bacteria. It’s always good to put more alkaline food in our body.”
What’s next for the Aivee Café menu? “We are currently creating healthy chicken rice. It’s one of my favorites but it’s fatty,” Aivee reveals. Soon enough, cheat days will be unnecessary when we now have healthy options of our comfort food favorites.
Location: The Aivee Café is inside The A Institute, 3rd floor of Forbes Town Center, Burgos Park, Bonifacio Global City, Philippines.
Written and reported by Marbbie Tagabucba (The Philippine Star News)
1. This is not a “Diet” but a Lifestyle
Being a vegan, eating mostly raw is a long process and does not happen overnight. Some people take longer to transit to a raw vegan lifestyle, you have to listen to how your body feels and eat accordingly. I would not call this a diet, as you want to focus on your energy level and health. Feeling good is more important than looking good. Once you feel good and are bursting with energy, you will naturally be in great shape.
2. Health is your Foundation
Everything we do in life is dependent on our health. Time, family, friendship, love, or even money – we cannot enjoy any of these without our health. We need to be sure we take our health seriously before it is too late. Prevention is always better than cure.
3. Healthy does not mean expensive
Apart from juicing or blending organic baby spinach and all types of berries, not everything has to be organic. Please do not let the word “organic” stop you from wanting to be healthy even with a tight budget. You are worth every penny spent for your health and well-being. Treat this as an investment for your body in the long run and avoid expensive medical bills.
4. Add Variety to your daily foods
Eat the colours of the rainbow, try out new exotic fruits or introduce yourself to other greens, besides spinach. It is essential to always make your meals interesting and fun. The more you enjoy what you eat, the more you will stick to it in the long run.
5. Raw Food Transition Plan
Start off your day with my beginner’s guide to raw foods. Try to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet daily and gradually increase the amount being consumed. Here are my recommendations: Breakfast: Green smoothie, Tea break: An assorted plate of fruits you love, Before dinner: Green juice in the late evening, Dinner: as per normal but do try to avoid fried foods and desserts at the very least.
Article written by ALICIA ANN LIP is the author of “Raw Vegan On The Fast Lane”, which offers quick and easy smoothie recipes for busy people. She is also the founder and creator of StayingRaw.com, a raw vegan website featuring vegan smoothies, cold pressed juices, raw food meal and raw dessert recipes.
Photo credit: singaporefinest.com.sg