Greater Tulsa Reporter
RAW-ESOME: Denise Madeja sits in her restaurant, Raw Intentions Kitchen, 848 S. Aspen Ave., where everything served is raw and free of gluten and animal products. Madeja began a whole-foods, plant-based diet three years ago in an effort to cure her medical problems.
EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers
Three years ago, Denise Madeja was suffering.
“I had digestive issues, stress, anxiety, high glucose levels and an injury that wasn’t healing,” she says. “My health was spiraling out of control.”
For Madeja, things needed to change and fast. She credits desperation as the reason for her next move.
Through a friend, she learned about the Optimum Health Institute, which offers a three-week detoxification program focused on holistic and cleansing practices. Madeja jumped right in and signed up for the program. She spent three weeks at the institute’s California location, learning to eat a whole-foods, plant-based diet, exercising and basically cleansing in every way possible.
She remembers being shocked that the institute had no stove or oven, and yet, now, Madeja’s own raw food restaurant on the southwest corner of 81st Street and 145th East Avenue, Raw Intentions Kitchen, likewise employs neither a stove nor an oven.
Madeja returned home after the program with plans to hold to her raw plant-based regimen. The results she had already experienced were more than enough incentive to move full-steam ahead.
Within two days of starting the raw eating plan, Madeja’s injury, which had previously refused to heal, was no longer hurting, she says. That was soon followed by the elimination of her digestive problems; her sleep improved, and she lost weight.
Four months later, Madeja began passing on what she learned, teaching classes in conjunction with a chiropractor. That led to growing and selling her own food and creating unique and innovative recipes, like eggless egg salad made with cashews, lemons and vegetables.
“People asked me why I came up with these recipes,” says Madeja, a self-described “foodie.” “I told them, ‘I got hungry. So I played with foods and tried recipes.’”
Madeja fans can find her Asian Slaw, Not Tuna Salad and Eggless Egg Salad, among other items, at Petty’s Fine Foods, GreenAcres Market, Sprouts, as well as at Raw Intentions Kitchen, 848 S. Aspen Ave., which she opened in April 2012.
Everything offered at her restaurant is raw and free of animal products and gluten. One dish, however, can be made with gluten, on request.
“The whole purpose of a raw food diet is that the food keeps all of its enzymes, which go into the body and allow it to heal quicker,” she says.
Madeja makes spaghetti and marinara with zucchini and mushrooms and her desserts, including chocolate pudding, out of plants and seeds.
But, pardoning the pun, the proof really is in the pudding. “I do a lot of sampling because people need to taste the food,” she says.
Yet, Madeja’s passion for raw food reaches far past the kitchen. She wants to do more than make nutritious meals. She wants to educate and encourage habits. “It’s about learning to make better choices,” she says.
For that reason, she holds classes at GreenAcres Market in Jenks and Whole Foods and conducts regular classes at her restaurant consisting of a four-course meal and educational video. The monthly class schedule can be found at rawintentions.com.
“Teaching people and education is my first love,” says the woman who used to work as a college recruiter. “That (recruiting) was just a job,” she continues. “Now I’m doing what I love and love what I do.”