Que SeRAW SeRAW
Kitchen Angel Alicia Parnell Re-Invents Fast Food, the Healthy Way
by Heidi Trilling
Alicia Parnell’s storefront window says it all — “Gourmet, Organic, Vegan, Raw” — but it is the delicious tastes of her entrées, smoothies and desserts that keep customers coming back for more. Parnell’s small, sunny take-out shop, Que SeRAW SeRAW in Burlingame, has been in its present location for two years, but Parnell’s raw food journey began years before that.
In fact, Parnell credits her daughter for jump-starting her raw food lifestyle. “I began to experience arthritis in my hips,” explained Parnell, who was then 55 years old. “I thought: ‘If this is part of the aging process, I want nothing to do with it!’ ”
Parnell’s daughter happened to be visiting. “She found the book Raw Family by Victoria Boutenko on my bookshelf,” Parnell explained. (It outlines how Raw Foods helped restore the Boutenko family’s good health.) “She went out to the grocery store, bought some fresh produce, made some recipes. Everything was absolutely delicious. ‘This is raw food?’ I asked. ‘I didn’t know this was raw food! This is really good!’ ”
Soon after, Parnell started experimenting with recipes herself. The advantages of fresh, organic, “live” enzyme-rich food soon became apparent. “I started eating raw foods, and I felt healthier and better. In less than three months, the arthritis was gone. It was gone!”
Parnell continued: “This was my introduction to raw food, along with raw food potlucks and other activities. I also went to hear Brian Clement speak. He is the director of the Hippocrates Health Institute in South Beach, Florida. He said their research has shown that eating 100 percent raw food for a couple of years gives a nice foundation for the immune system. Then, after that, 85 percent to 90 percent Raw plus other [cooked] foods is a good balance.”
Parnell became a certified raw foods chef in 2002, under the guidance of Victoria Boutenko — the very chef whose book Parnell’s daughter had discovered on the bookshelf. Parnell then embarked on her raw food take-out business, incorporating Que SeRAW SeRAW in 2005.
Now, at 61, Parnell starts each day with her nutrient-packed “Green Drink,” an energizing blend including kale, mint and apples. “I make this for my husband, my mom, and me. Every morning!” Parnell said. “The chlorophyll in it gets my metabolism going.” It works. Since eating raw foods, Parnell’s energy level “shot through the roof,” and has stayed that way. It supports her 16-hour workdays in her shop: “I can whip circles around 22-year-olds!”
Customers are enthusiastically devouring the fruits of Parnell’s daily labors. They also love the convenience of raw take-out — “fast-food” the healthy way! Each recipe is designed to deliver optimal nutrients and delicious tastes. Menus are updated seasonally.
“The kale salad, almond smoothie, and ‘mock tuna’ pâté have been bestsellers for six years!” Parnell said. Parents have remarked that Parnell’s kale salads are the only greens their children will eat. Customers of all ages also enjoy the rich raw lasagna, melt-in-your-mouth nori rolls, and an array of desserts: cheesecakes, “blondie” macaroons, and chocolate truffles. All are Weight Watchers friendly, too.
Parnell added: “I try to suggest to my customers that — instead of being overly concerned with how much fat they’re eating, or how much weight they are losing — they should be concerned with how they feel after they eat this food. Because raw is all about quality: feeling healthy, feeling energetic, feeling good. And that’s what life’s all about!”
Those wishing to expand their raw foods know-how can also do so at Que SeRAW SeRAW. Although Parnell doesn’t teach classes, she developed the popular “Kitchen Angel Volunteer Program” for people wanting hands-on experience learning raw food techniques and recipes. (See the “Announcements” page on the Web site.) Parnell said: “I have great food, and I’m always looking for great people to help in my kitchen. As my business expands, I am looking to work with people who really embrace this lifestyle.”
So far, the “Kitchen Angel” program has benefited from over 30 volunteers of diverse professions. They come to the Burlingame shop from San Francisco, the East Bay, and other areas. Parnell makes sure to incorporate the specific interests of the volunteers into their hours in the kitchen: learning dehydrating techniques, for example, or how to sprout grains. It is a mutually-rewarding relationship. “They bring such great energy to the kitchen!” Parnell said.
She added: “You know, I keep saying how much energy I have, and it’s from my food choices — no question. But it’s also this: I have found my reason for being on the planet. I have found my passion: my raw foods business. I am so blessed to have something that I love to do!”
Though dedicated to raw, Parnell is candid about her diet: “I eat the best way that I can. Sure, I could do a little better; we all could. That’s what I say to everybody: ‘Whatever food journey you are on, just try to do a little better. Add some raw food. You’ll feel the difference!’ ”
As for people who still may be intimidated by the words “organic,” “vegan” and “raw,” Parnell nodded understandingly, and gave this advice: “Don’t think about the labels.” Then, she laughed. “I manage to make it delicious despite all of that! I collect customers one bite at a time!”
For more information, visit www.queserawseraw.com.#mce_temp_url#
“Green Drink” by Alicia Parnell
3.5 cups water
3 apples (sweet, like Gala or Pink Lady)
handful dark leafy greens (kale, collard, chard or dandelion greens)
1/2 lemon with rind, no seeds
1 stalk celery
Process in blender until pulpy. Enjoy!