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Peace, Love & Raw

Behold the awesomeness of the RawNaimo bar

Peace, Love & Raw ... and delicious "cheezcakes."

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Every business, it seems, has its signature product. In the case of Olympia's raw deli Peace, Love & Raw, it's the RawNaimo bar.

With a crunchy crust, a creamy filling and a rich cacao topping, it tastes like a nutritional nightmare, but in fact is made primarily of almonds, coconut and macadamia nuts.

This candy bar, carried in co-ops and natural food stores from Bellingham to Medford, Ore., was the start of Peace, Love & Raw, which has been serving up juices, smoothies, salads and more since it opened in April.

"The RawNaimo bar is what makes us famous," said deli owner Nicole Harmell.

The raw treats were inspired by the Nanaimo bar, a rich no-bake cookie with a layer of custard and another of chocolate. (It's named after Nanaimo, B.C., Canada, where it's said to have originated.)

The first time I had a Nanaimo bar, I thought, ‘This is a great thing,'" said Skip Albertson of Olympia, "but I think the RawNaimo bar actually is better than the original."

"I like making decadent things," Harmell said. "I like making things that people remember. They say, ‘Oh, I used to have this with my grandma, but I don't eat it anymore because of gluten.'"

And as a vegan who eats mostly raw food, she found her options for decadence were limited unless she created them herself.

"I love good food that heals and nourishes the body," she said. "I'm always making stuff, and if I want a treat or a dessert, I always make it as nourishing as possible."

All ingredients the deli uses are organic.

The treat's popularity began when Harmell made them for a family gathering.

"I took an 8-by-8 pan down to my parents' house," she said. "They were gone. Nobody could stop eating them, but nobody felt sick afterwards. My really good friend, when she had them, said, ‘You have to sell these.'"

And so she did. They've been available at the Olympia Food Co-op since Feb. 2012, and now are selling briskly at co-ops and natural food stores, along with the company's raw cinnamon rolls, macaroons and cookie-like German cacao cakes, topped with thick coconut frosting.

At the stores that carry Peace, Love & Raw's goodies - including the Tacoma Food Co-op and Marlene's Market & Deli in Tacoma and Federal Way - they fly off the shelves.

An employee at Marlene's in Tacoma said the RawNaimo bars are usually gone within a few days after they arrive.

While building their wholesale business, Harmell and former Peace, Love & Raw co-owner Leland Harmell were looking for a commercial kitchen.

They found the space in June 2012, but didn't launch the retail business until April, opening in time for spring Arts Walk.

When the deli launched, it was open only three days a week. It's now open five days a week, and Harmell is planning to expand that to seven soon.

Peace, Love & Raw has also recently expanded its offerings with sandwich specials, served on a raw bread made with onions; red lentil chili; and "cheezcakes," made with cashews and flavored with such ingredients as fresh berries, cacao and lavender.

Next steps: offering entrée specials and packaging slices of the cheezcake - which draws raves on the deli's Facebook page - for retail stores.

The deli has already served raw lasagna, raw tacos with spiced walnut filling and zucchini noodles and is pondering pizza.

PEACE, LOVE & RAW, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, 111 Legion Way SW, Olympia, 360.753.5683,

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