PURE JOY KITCHEN

Food: () Gluten-free vegan food may not be for everyone, but this is outstanding.

Service: () Casual but prompt and friendly; staff is glad to describe its dishes.

Atmosphere: () Dining room tables welcome guests with books and tarot decks.

More Info

Location: 519 NW Colorado Ave. (back-alley entrance)

Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday

Cuisine: Raw and vegan

Price range: Breakfast $4.95 to $12, lunch $5.95 to $13.50, drinks $3.50 to $9.75

Credit cards: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

Kids’ menu: Special smoothies available

Vegetarian and gluten-free menu: Everything

Alcoholic beverages: No

Outdoor seating: Yes

Reservations: No

Contact: purejoykitchen.com, 541-389-6224

For more area restaurant reviews, visit bendbulletin.com/restaurants

Even with its healthy, outdoor sports-oriented lifestyle and its numerous yoga studios, Bend isn’t a community that particularly caters to vegetarian or vegan diets, let alone paleo and ketogenic (high-fat, low-­carbohydrate) food preferences.

Owner-chef Elaina Love and her Pure Joy Kitchen could soon change that perception.

Not including food trucks, Bend was left with only two small restaurants dedicated to plant-based foods — Salud Raw Foods and Next Level Burgers — after Sarah’s Raw and Vegan Cafe closed last year. Both offered delicious meals but limited menus.

Enter the Pure Joy Kitchen. Since opening in June in the former Sarah’s location (in a back alley off Colorado Avenue, behind Café of Life Chiropractic), the small cafe has established itself with the most extensive menu of meatless recipes in central Oregon: five full pages.

“My personal menu is far more extensive,” said Love, whose three cookbooks have given her a national following. “It is designed around foods I like to eat.”

Love has been at the vanguard of the raw-food movement for more than 20 years, since she discovered “through a prayer” that she could be healed of candida (a yeastlike fungi that is a common cause of fungal infections) and food allergies by eating low-carb plant-based foods. As the founder and director of Pure Joy Planet and the Pure Joy Culinary Academy, she cooked and catered in Los Gatos, California, and Tucson, Arizona, before relocating to Bend.

Last spring, chiropractor David Boorstein inquired whether she had a student who might like to move to Bend. Love volunteered herself for the move.

Simple decor

The breakfast-and-lunch cafe is a simple one. Tiny tables with colorful chairs sit on a small deck. Inside, a front counter with a generous selection of gluten-free sweets, including cheesecake and mint fudge, greets diners. Visitors order here, then wait for their meals to be delivered to the adjacent room, where tables welcome guests with books and tarot decks.

My dining companion and I enjoyed two meals at the cafe, and each time, our requests were promptly prepared and delivered.

Two of our dishes were burritos, one a breakfast wrap, the other a savory Mexican burrito. Both of them showcased Love’s creativity in cooking not only without meat, but also with no common oils, grains or soy.

Coconut is a favorite ingredient. The wraps are made from coconut meat, and a drizzle of coconut sour cream is a finishing touch. Scrambled, cage-free organic eggs and sauteed vegetables (carrot, zucchini, mushroom, onion and tomato) make breakfast ($12), topped with avocado guacamole and tomato salsa, a delicious meal.

Mexican lunch ($13.50) features Better Than Beef (a blend of nuts, seeds and vegetables) and refried beans of sunflower seeds. The wrap also includes guacamole and salsa.

It’s topped with arugula, cilantro and microgreens. I only wished that it might have been served hot instead of lukewarm.

‘I like savories’

I got my wish on my next visit, when I ordered the coconut curry bowl ($12). It was thinner than Thai curries I’ve enjoyed, but it was unquestionably delicious. Served over quinoa, and with a heavy quotient of diced sweet potato, it also included broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini, carrots and onions, along with ginger and other spices.

My companion’s Buddha noodle bowl ($9.75) was served on a bed of zucchini and kelp noodles, an outstanding substitute for pasta noodles. It also featured spinach, carrots, green and sweet onions and garlic, stirred with almond butter and orange zest. Quinoa and avocado were offered on the side.

“I like savories,” Love confessed. “Not so much sweets.”

But while she may encourage others to cook her mesquite cookies, eclipse moon pies and lemon dream bars — many of them made from sprouted nuts and sweetened not with honey but with dates — she can concoct amazing beverages.

The Strawberry Ruby Beauty ($9.75), for instance, used strawberries and beet crystals to turn hemp milk a stunning rose in color. Rosehips, chia seeds and vanilla were among other ingredients in this drink, sweetened with coconut sugar.

The Keto Choco Maca Milkshake ($7.75) is made with coconut milk, banana and dates, but also cacao and raw chocolate, chia seeds and sea moss, naturopathic maca and tribulus powder, and a zingy sprinkle of cayenne. It’s healthy, energy-inspiring and tasty, and can be turned into a Maca Mocha with a shot of cold-brew coffee.

I got my coffee equivalent with a Maca Matcha Latte ($5.95), a blend of chaga (powdered mushroom) with matcha (Japanese green tea). Had there been nothing more, I’m not sure I would have enjoyed this hot drink. But chai spices, vanilla and rich coconut butter gave it a somewhat familiar flavor, and tingled my tongue before I had finished.

— John Gottberg Anderson can be reached at janderson@bendbulletin.com

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