In Japanese, Shokuiku means ‘food education’. In Melbourne, Australia it refers to an organic, raw food, Microbiotic mecca. One part cafe, one part superfood grocery, and one part educational centre, the enlightened can flock here for all things health and wellness related. We are in love.
At the helm of this ambitious enterprise is Yoko Inoue, a Japanese expat. Having successfully overcome her own health challenges with whole, raw foods Yoko decided to create what she thought was lacking in Melbourne at the time: a place where she could share her vision of raw food and plant based medicine with a like minded community. The result is Shokuiku, where in store people can experience superfood goodies such as ‘natural high elixirs’ and ‘prebiotic beauty tonics’ which can be enjoyed on occasional movie nights at the cafe. Shokuiku’s list of services also include private catering, 6 course raw food pop up dinners for small groups of worshipers, a gorgeous online magazine named “Nourish” and a website whose blog offers inventive raw food recipes that incorporate superfoods in ways we have never seen (see her Blue Majik ice cream post).
One look at Yoko’s oeuvre and we ask: what can’t this woman do? We recently spoke with Yoko to discuss Shokuiku and her life in Melbourne.
- Tell us about your macrobiotics background in Japan and what led you to Australia.
I was born and lived in Japan until I was 15. I first moved to New Zealand for school and then later in 2000 I moved to Australia to see and explore more. After becoming interested in a plant based lifestyle, Macrobiotics made a lot of sense to me. I think this was because of my background in Japan: a lot of ingredients and cooking methods were already familiar to me. The guidelines for Macrobiotics are generally the following: a whole food, plant based diet including whole grains, small amounts of legumes and vegetables. It does not label any foods as “bad” per se. What is considered appropriate or not is based on individual physical constitutions and lifestyles. Based on those variables meat may be included in the diet or not. Knowing how foods influence the body and spirit is the guiding philosophy of Macrobiotics.
- Tell us about Shokuiku.
After working at a couple of cafes and also as a private chef I wanted to open my own place. The main reason was that there were no places in Melbourne at the time that really inspired me then. I really wanted to create a space that could educate and inspire people with this new cuisine and plant based medicine. A place where I would feel comfortable taking my daughter to and where like minded people would feel accepted and which would help bring this community together. I feel that Shokuiku is exactly that. I love the fact that we are always evolving; whether it is new products, a new menu, new events or training programs, we are always exploring new ways to inspire the health and wellness community.
- What are the top 5 superfoods you take on a regular basis?
Definitely all the medicinal mushrooms, especially Reishi. On top of my regular green juice and salads I take additional green algae such as AFA by E3live, marine phytoplankton and spirulina or chlorella. Other regular superfoods/herbs and supplements include MSM, schisandra berries, Ho sho wu, fulvic acid, astragalus, and more. It really all depends on what I am working on.
- What does your average day look like in terms of breakfast, lunch and dinner?
I always start my day with a tonic tea and a cold pressed juice without any fruits. I like my juices really green. I may nibble on something fermented with my juice and I always include some kind of fermented food with every meal. If I am working at the cafe I may not eat until mid afternoon. At that time I will usually have a salad and always vegetables of some sort, with nut butters, bread or raw crackers and some avocado. Then I might have some fruit with raw ice cream or coconut yogurt.
- What food would you absolutely never eat under any circumstances?
I would never have anything deep fried or cooked in a low grade vegetable oil.
- Tell us about your upcoming raw food intensive course.
I have been working on this for a very long time. I am very excited to share this with people!! It was created for those who are serious about learning basic and advanced techniques necessary in creating raw food that is both nourishing and tasty. Just following a recipe is simply not enough for most of us. We provide a more rounded knowledge base that is very important. We are already getting some great feedback from our community. Please check us out!!
RAW VEGAN FLOURLESS DECADENT PISTACHIO CACAO CAKE
1 cup fresh strawberries
1/2 – 1tsp preferred sugar (I used lakanto)
Dehydrate strawberry mixture for a few hours. Ensure to not dehydrate completely. You want the strawberries to have some moisture.
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup cacao butter, melted
1/2 cup pistachios, soaked, drained and rinsed
1 cup cacao powder
Enough liquid sweetener of your choice (adjust according to your own taste. I used about 3 1/2 Tbsps Sunroot sweetener)
A pinch of salt
Blend all the ingredients in a blender, leaving some texture of pistachio intact. Assemble and press the mixture in a ring mold, inserting a few strawberries alternately in between. Let it firm up in the fridge for a hour before taking it out of the ring. Enjoy!!!