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Flavour Fave

Jul 25, 2018 03:37PM ● Published by Debbie Hall

Dr. Flavor, as Chef Mayra Trabulse is often called, cooks with a unique acclaimed style by merging flavor and fusion from Caribbean and Southwest cuisines. She describes her method as gourmet vegan comfort food bursting with flavor.

Mayra was destined to cook. Born in Mexico City of Cuban and Lebanese descent, she embraced the flavors of the kitchen at a very young age. While meat was an avid part of her heritage, her curiosity to explore the significance of each ingredient led her to research the culinary world. She discovered how much food was imported and how the integrity of that food was compromised.

Once she learned about the slaughtering of exotic animals for their meats and furs, she questioned the behavior and the cooking practice, which inevitably led her to veganism. Once she fully transitioned into a vegan lifestyle, she made sacrifices in her career that initially cost her work but supported her principles. Still, her goal is not to convert people to veganism but rather encourage everyone to eat healthier and understand the purpose of food itself.

“Healthy cooking is a perception. My goal is to educate and inform,” she says. “I am not trying to force someone to become vegan or eat only organic. But a good start is to become more aware where food comes from and how it’s produced. I would be happy if someone bought locally sourced products. I want people to understand about GMO and processed food. I am especially concerned about children’s eating habits today.

“I want to get everyone to stop eating processed food, including processed wheat. I believe this is what is contributing to the major health problems and illnesses today. I want to encourage everyone to learn to grow some food,” she continues. “While I personally would like to see no more cruelty in our lives, I first want to get rid of the crap that is such a part of so many people’s diets.”

She even promotes shopping at the dollar stores. “People would be amazed at what they can purchase at any Chef Mayra creates tasty vegan food for all palates. I want to educate everyone to read the labels and select better options. If a family only has $20 to $40 to spend on their groceries, I can teach them to stretch their money at those stores and still eat better.”

For example, mac and cheese is a good choice. But Mayra advises not to purchase the boxed kind with powder to hydrate as a sauce. “That mixture is made with chemicals that might satisfy hunger but add no nutrition. You can buy noodles, nut milk, vegan butter, and vegan cheese and make a new and improved version at the same cost with minimal effort. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, cheese, rice, beans, and even vegan choices are now offered in the dollar stores. It’s a wonderful resource for anyone on a budget.”

Part of Mayra’s mission is to demonstrate how to make familiar foods using healthy ingredients. She continually hears others say they can’t give up their favorites, such as pizza. Well-crafted recipes with the right ingredients can create comfort food that helps the body, nourishes the mind, and lowers our carbon footprint. She even demonstrated how to use jackfruit to make sliders and nachos at the Health-Healing-Happiness expo. The hope is to get people to replace empty calories with enriching ones.

Mayra teaches vegan cooking classes and is certified in sports nutrition, macrobiotic cooking, and holistic and Feng Shui cuisine. She also has a website (CHEFMAYRA.COM) and a YouTube channel full of recipes and tutorials on living a healthy lifestyle. With all of the health challenges we’re facing, even if you don’t transition to becoming vegan, we can all make smarter choices.

“My desire is for more people to go vegan and keep it healthy,” she says. “If I can teach everyone how to cook and bake delicious meals that work with the body, not against it, then I am happy. I want to inspire children, women, and men.”

Farm-to-table is an essential aspect of her overall dietary plan. Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Natural Grocers became the norm for the supermarket terrain featuring organic and healthy foods at affordable prices. Since Amazon has purchased Whole Foods, wholesome selections can now be delivered in a two-hour window.

Mayra also uses hemp and hemp seed in her stockpot of flavors, offering clean protein and fiber. She sometimes cooks with CBD oil too but emphasizes that cooking with CBD oil is different from ingesting CBD in other methods. “People need to understand how to use it without destroying its benefits. I feel that if people can learn to combine CBD with other oils, sauces, and dressings, then those who might not otherwise want to use cannabis would be more open to its benefits without feeling like they are using a drug.” She is happy to teach home cooks and chefs the best ways to integrate hemp and CBD into their dishes.

While Pura Vida Bakery & Bistro may have closed its doors in 2014, she innovated the restaurant scene with serving 100 percent cruelty-free fare. She plans on opening a new concept in the coming year that will have an energy-efficient kitchen, a smaller carbon footprint, and a menu full of flavors. In the interim, she consults with restaurateurs and chefs on concepts from vegan to steakhouses, teaching them to develop high-quality vegan dishes.
“Whatever your journey is, stay on the right frequency,” she says. “Make small changes and don’t feel obligated or pressured. Eat happier. Become your own advocate.”
Edible Critic

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