Food The Tastemakers:

Take a walk…. Organic Avenue

Organic Avenue

My first endeavor with juicing was in 07′ through Organic Avenue.  I began with their LOVE cleanse which included a variety of juices and smoothies that were downright delish – particularly the nut milks which were sweet, thick and surprisingly decadent.  I learned rather quickly that exclusive vegetable juicing was not for me as it made me rather cranky, but the experience of Organic Ave instantly won me over.  I became a regular at their Lower East Side location, swooning especially over their green juices, spicy lemonade and coconut water.  I also fell in love with the wide variety of salads and raw meals on offer–the ideal grab n’ go lunch or snack that’s actually good for you.

Denise Mari, the forward thinking creator of Organic Avenue is considered a pioneer of the now-burgeoning detox movement. Her passion for educating people on the benefits of raw food and the health perks of incorporating juicing into your daily routine is truly inspirational. One of her foundational ideas especially struck me: “We’ve lost connection to our earth, lost connection to the need for pure water, pure air, pure food. We’ve separated ourselves from the process of food and harvest.” It’s a truth too hard to deny in this busy day and age, and I myself am always trying to resolve my love of fresh food with an increasingly busy schedule.

As chance would have it, Denise moved into the same Dumbo building as my family and I, and though we somehow never crossed paths, I was itching to pick her brain as an early admirer of all that she’d created with Organic Avenue. So, when Denise asked that we create a dish together from her recently released Organic Avenue cookbook I jumped at the opportunity. While I am a big believer in indulgence, I also believe in moderation–and the healthful yet tasty dishes in her book strike the perfect balance. I immediately knew I wanted to create a raw delight and her veggie wraps have always been a favorite of mine. They’re clean, crisp and vibrant, yet still satiating and full of flavor.

Denise believes that juicing can be life-affirming, opening your eyes to a better, more peaceful world. In line with this, she’s recently moved to West Hampton to create Mari Manor–a light-filled and airy home that will act as a sanctuary and bed and breakfast for anyone in need of a little break. Where better to create our healthy treats than at her lovely new oasis? Making the wraps was a speedy delight: we simply spread the collard greens with tahini butter, loaded them with the zesty mango-vegetable filling, rolled them up and sliced in half, and then enjoyed them with a killer thai plum sauce. While we nibbled, I asked Denise how she managed to stick to her clean-eating regimen day in and day out, to which she replied, “I always strive to do my best–but my slogan is: progress not perfection.” An EyeSwoon idea if I’ve ever heard one!

Photography by Winnie Au

Lucky Lebanese Wraps

Organic Avenue

Tahini Filling

1/2 cup (120 grams) raw tahini

1/3 cup (15 grams) sun-dried tomatoes, soaked in water for 2 to 3 hours, drained, and chopped

2 garlic cloves, cut in half

1/4 cup (60 millileters) extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup (120 millileters) water

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Pinch of ground cayenne

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Veggie Filling

2 medium carrots, cut into julienne

2 medium parsnips, cut into julienne

1 small celery root, cut into julienne

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon dried sage

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 large collard green leaves

4 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

4 handfuls of sunflower sprouts

Make The Wraps

Make the tahini filling: Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until smooth.

Make the wraps: In a large bowl, combine the carrots, parsnips, celery root, red onion, oil, sage, salt, and pepper. Place a collard leaf bottom side up on a cutting board and using a sharp knife, shave off as much of the thick part of the stem as possible. Spread one quarter of the tahini filling over the leaf, leaving a 1/2-inch (1.25-centimeter) border on all sides. Add one quarter of the julienned vegetable mixture and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the mint and a handful of sunflower sprouts. Working from the end facing you, tightly roll the collard leaf away from you. Place seam side down, tuck in the sides, and cut the wrap in half using a serrated knife. Place on a plate; repeat with the remaining 3 wraps and filling. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 wraps

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