Truly local, truly vegan and truly delicious: My fabulous food staycation feasting on Sourced Cuisine

Story and photos by Laura Buckle

Jessica McLeish is a self confessed researcherholic. Having carved out a successful 20-year career in public relations and marketing, Jessica, a keen chef, started to help out at Alegría Farms in Irvine. It was there that her fascination with nutrition and the biochemical effects of food upon the body was cultivated. 

McLeish researched and learned how to prepare delicious meals that support the body to help itself, working with freshly picked ingredients from truly local farms. Sourcing food is something Jessica is “truly” passionate about. Many places serve food that they say is locally grown, however, this often means that the food is from California, which as we all know is a huge state, says Jessica. 

Phytochemicals are important for health, Jessica says

Take strawberries for example: Jessica explains that one of the most important things we need from our food are phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are biologically active compounds found in food and have protective and disease preventative properties. 

But phytochemicals on strawberries have a very short shelf life of 48 hours. Most strawberries found in supermarkets or even some local farmers markets have been in transport for at least 48 hours meaning their nutritional values and benefits are greatly reduced. It is because of this that Jessica will shop for all of her produce from a choice of five local farms (depending on what is growing and where). These include Bluebird Canyon farm right here in Laguna Beach, South Coast Farms in San Juan Capistrano and Tustin, and Alegría Farms, Orange County Produce and Manassero Farms, all located in Irvine.  

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Check out the vibrant colors of the produce in the salad of South Coast Farms

It is not only fresh produce that Jessica is passionate about, but also her water source, having researched into the chemicals that are added to water, such as fluoride. Jessica started to use a Pristine Hydro Water Revival System, which produces properly mineralized water, water that is fluoride, acid, and 100 percent contaminant free. Jessica uses this to wash and cook her food.

So where did this food and health fascination come from? Well, San Clemente-raised Jessica’s father was an athlete, a pro surfer and soccer coach who sadly had to have open-heart surgery at the age of 45. It was due to what he was putting into his body, not his activity Jessica explains. 

Activity is good: eating healthy food is key though

Jessica is by no means discounting the importance of being active: she is a regular at Fokus Pilates, which is in fact where we met, and a volleyball player, playing most days. But she believes health has to be a balance of eating right and keeping active.

Jessica’s food delivery company Sourced Conscious Cuisine began two years ago, offering gluten free, dairy free, soy free and refined sugar free foods. Jessica and her culinary director John Pflueger make magic in their kitchen by creating healthy raw natural meals without any taste being compromised.

John Pflueger’s resume is extensive. He has cooked all over the world ranging from an Indian kitchen where the staff sang to their food, to a Michelin starred restaurant in Burgundy. We have featured him in Stu News a few times – he’s an exciting and accomplished chef. John followed a raw vegan diet for a few years and felt the benefits so when Jessica asked him to work alongside her in the kitchen he jumped at the chance. 

My food staycation with Sourced Cuisine

I was particularly excited about my Sourced Delivery, as it was the first time I had reviewed any delivery service. Jessica told me that she would be sending me 10 dishes to try, so I invited a couple of girlfriends as well as my family to join in this healthy delicious delivery experience. 

Customers are asked to place their orders online or by phone no later than midnight on Friday. This gives Jessica Saturday to source the ingredients and herself and John, as the cook, Saturday and Sunday to ensure the food is ready for delivery on Sunday. 

The menu is plentiful, with breakfasts, salads, starters, entrees, soups and desserts. There is also a section dedicated to drinks, snacks and elixirs. The food is vegan, but there is an option to add a protein if desired and obviously all proteins are organic. I allowed Jessica to choose for me of course.

The food arrived in a cool storage bag, which I will keep as it’s perfect for the beach! And so we began to unpack our goodies. 

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Unpacking our cold storage bag revealed delights such as the Buddha bowl

For our starters we had the vegetable sushi rolls, made with sweet rice, spicy carrots, asparagus, Maui onions and avocado served with a ginger sesame dipping sauce. These were delicious, light yet full of flavor and so fresh and clean in taste.

We then moved on to the Salad of Coast farms, which consisted of strawberries, basil, mint, pistachios, lime and coconut yoghurt dressing. This was actually the best salad I’ve ever tasted. The strawberries (freshly picked the day before) were a deep red almost purple color and were the tastiest strawberries I’ve ever tried. I will be ordering this salad again and again.

The field green salad came next, which was of course field greens, served with roasted beets, orange, jicama and splashed with hazelnut vinaigrette. Yet again tasty, delicious and so fresh. 

Zucchini boats were out of this world

It was then on to the entrees. The zucchini boats were out of this world good, fresh tasty zucchini served with black beans, corn, salsa fresco, chipotle nut cheese and cilantro. I have really struggled with trying to find a cheese alternative and this was fantastic.

Next up was the Buddha bowl, which I had heard about from various friends who have tried Jessica’s food. This consisted of brown rice, romanesco, yellow squash, sugar snap peas, herbed goddess dressing and sunflower seeds. I now know what they were talking about. This was a great dish, really filling, but that good feeling type of fullness. Perfect. 

The final entrée we tried was the red quinoa bowl with braised cabbage, dried fruit and nuts. This again was a filling combination of goodness and we loved it.

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The red quinoa bowl was a filling combination of pure goodness

Finally we reached the section of the menu I’d been dubious about… Was it really possible to replicate a sweet tasty dessert using no sugar, no dairy, no gluten, no tastes so-good-but-so-bad-for-you additives? I wondered. The answer, my friend, is yes – Jessica can! 

The raw vegan desserts were next-level tasty. Raw banana cream pie squares with lucuma caramel tasted like they had a whole load of bad but delicious ingredients in them, however they did not: they were totally healthy, totally delicious and I wanted more. Luckily for me Jessica had included another dessert, a raw carrot cupcake with cashew cream frosting. I’ve always said Laguna Beach was the closest thing to heaven.

Sourced Cuisine’s raw desserts are heaven on a spoon

I stand corrected: Sourced Cuisine’s raw desserts are heaven on a spoon.

My whole experience with Sourced Conscious Cuisine was magnificent. I am officially a regular customer. So much goodness was delivered to my door that day and at no point did I feel unsatisfied. 

One question I did ask Jessica though was if she ever cheated, if she herself allowed herself a vice, and her reply?  “Well, who doesn’t love a Selanne’s burger and a cocktail?” That’a girl!

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