Artisan Sourdough Bread
Megan May is the co-creator and head chef of Little Bird Unbakery. Megan used to simply make & distribute macaroons & granola to health food stores, but now she’s also whipping up a food frenzy with her gluten/dairy/sugar free cafés! While the concept of ‘unbakeries’ are all raw… the result is totally smokin’! Aucklanders are now being treated to a different type of health food — health food that doesn’t taste like rabbit food — or like rabbits, for that matter!
Some of us have been waiting a very long time for a café like this one to open! At this café you don’t have to look like a social misfit by questioning and querying every other item on the menu to find out if it contains something you can’t (or would prefer not to) consume! This eatery is like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory — everything’s edible! I feel like a kid in a candy store when I go here because I’m able (and willing) to eat anything off the menu — anything!
Instead of simply going there to experience the food (as I usually do), I enlisted two of my most favourite people to go along and help review this eatery (it was my shout of course!)
Gluten, Dairy & (TABLE) sugar-free
I love that I can confidently recommend Little Bird to my clients (with standard food intolerances1). It’s fabulous that this café shows people that you don’t have to substitute your gluten & dairy products for something unappealing like gluten free bread or soy cheese. (That are also frustratingly more expensive.) At Little Bird café, you can experience new and innovative food ‘technology’ such as sprouted bread and cashew cream cheese.
Organicy goodie goodness
Everything on the menu is created from organic, seasonal and local produce.
That means we lucky Aucklanders get to eat the antioxidants these plants produced in response to climate fluctuations. What this ultimately means is, by eating them, we are afforded the same protection from our environment that the plants were!
Note: Plants produce protective phyto-chemicals because, unlike us, they can’t fight or run away from potential threats to their survival!
Little Bird’s prices are very reasonable considering they are organic, and also the time & effort involved in preparing this type of food (the chefs apparently ‘prep’ for four hours to bring us their lunch menu!)
Its ‘live’, Jim — but not as we know it
Everything at Little Bird café is 100% raw — which I’ll admit would normally sound quite nasty! You would assume they provide food that is cold, bland and uncooked. Fortunately though, this café is teaching everyone what is possible with ‘raw’. Raw food enthusiasts believe that heating food too high (above 46ºC) destroys the enzymes, rendering it of little nutritional value.
To get flavour into their fare, instead of roasting, toasting, baking, steaming, grilling, frying, and flambéing, Little Bird activate, sprout, and dehydrate (and definitely don’t cook anything above said 46ºC).
‘Our cakes are made without gluten, dairy, sugar or soy. No guilt necessary, so you’re free to savour and enjoy every morsel of pure natural goodness’.
While their goodies are free of table sugar2, they still contain a lot of sweetener (Agave Syrup apparently). So while you may be unfamiliar with the texture of their raw delights, there’s no mistaking that super familiar, super sweet taste.
1) Try to avoid any sweet treat with cacao if you’re watching your ‘sugar’ intake. This stuff is very bitter, and therefore will contain the most amount of sweeteners to balance it e.g. extra Agave Syrup and extra dates.
2) These goodies are full of protein & fat (nuts, seeds, coconut and cacao butter). Therefore, don’t condemn yourself if you can’t polish off a whole piece of cheesecake (for instance) as it will be much more filling because it’s not full of fluff like refined baking.
3) Raw treats are definitely the way to go if you’re substituting grain flour for nuts or nut flours (like almond or walnut). Using high temperatures with delicate nut oils & proteins (as well as vitamins & minerals) renders them nutritionally inconsequential, as well as causing the oil to become potentially detrimental to your health.
A big food frenzy in the Little Bird feeder
While I love that their cafés are doing so well (they are obviously attracting more general health types), what I don’t love is having to wait ages for a table!
I find that regardless of the time of day I rock into their Ponsonby establishment, it is one hell of a job to get a table. When I do finally do get my bum on a seat, I’m very aware of the ‘hangry’ (so hungry they are angry!) people still waiting to be fed. I find this process somewhat unpleasant, and I find that it can detract from the overall experience. It has actually made me reconsider dining with them on a number of occasions.
In most cases I prefer to just get Little Bird ‘to go’.
Note: While this situation would annoy me anywhere…It particularly frustrates me at Little Bird. This is because the ‘real’ target audience of this café can’t easily go elsewhere to dine.
There’s really no comparison
I get that Little Bird are trying to make the unfamiliar familiar by calling their food items by names you’d expect to see on any standard menu e.g. bread, hot chocolate and cream cheese. However, unless you’ve been living as a vegan, raw foodie, or avoiding a particular food group for any length of time, then unfortunately it’s highly likely that you’re going to be disappointed in their alternative versions. These counterparts just aren’t as chewy, hot, cheesy or satisfying as you are normally used to. However, if you go in there with an open mind, and understand that none of their ‘stuff’ is technically cooked, you’ll have a greater appreciation of what it is they are actually trying to achieve here.
To lower preconceived expectations,
I would suggest the following name changes:
Sprouted bread be changed to…
Sprouted buckwheat, flax and coconut
Hot chocolate be changed to…
Cashew cream cheese be changed to…
Creamed cashew curd
Little Bird believes that you don’t have to feel guilty about eating the delights from their cabinet. I say that while there is a lot of great stuff in their sweet treats, you should still exercise moderation. These goodies contain a lot of sweetener — to make the healthy stuff taste really yummy!
Also, don’t let Little Bird dictate your serving sizes. This is especially important if you have one of their meals prior to dessert! (Remember their goodies are full of protein & fat and are therefore super-filling.) In this case, for ‘the goodness’ sake, please ask for a doggy bag at the birdy café.
I think it’s brilliant that more people are becoming health conscious, and keeping Little Bird busy. However! If you don’t actually value this type of food — and you’re only really going to this café because someone else told you that you should — then please don’t! For one, you’re not really going to enjoy eating there. And two, (and yes, I’m just being selfish here) you’re taking up precious seats that would otherwise be gratefully received by ‘food conscious’ others. If this is the case, might I suggest another café or restaurant ‘trending’ in the area?
Lisa Fitzgibbon is a degree qualified (2006), experienced and registered Naturopath & Medical Herbalist. She runs her own private practice – OOMPH in Grey Lynn, Auckland, New Zealand.
Lisa has been involved in the Natural Health industry for 16 years. She draws on her professional training and experience, as well as her own personal experience to bring you realistic, holistic health advice.Book online