Monday, June 21, 2010

Book Nook - Raw Food, Real World

Hi readers,

Are you familiar with the raw food diet?  I heard about it years ago and remember thinking, what do they eat, a plate of carrots?  Well, there are carrots, but also a whole myriad of choices and methods of food preparation in addition.  Basically, the raw foods diet (not really a diet, but a lifestyle) is eating only fruit, vegetables and raw nuts - and nothing is cooked.  According to raw foodies, cooking robs your food of valuable enzymes and oxygen.

I thought I'd give the raw foods diet a chance a few months ago.  I didn't want to lose weight, but I wanted to incorporate more fruit & veggies into my daily routine and wanted to start eating healthier in general.  I read a bunch of books & checked out lots of cookbooks on raw foods, and this is one of the best:

Raw Food, Real World by Matthew Kenney & Sarma Melngailis is not only a raw food cookbook, but also a really informative book on all aspects of the raw foods lifestyle.  The authors are very willing to share their personal experiences of their foray into this lifestyle.  Their candor is a nice touch (ex: Matthew's business went bust around the time they went raw & the funny discussion on "cleansers").  They're not trying to sell raw foods to the reader, or make it out to be something it's not.  I think the authors hit the right tone in their writing and it reads like friends chatting with you about this really exciting thing they discovered.

Now, you might be thinking, this is a cookbook - how much reading is there?  The book is interspersed with recipes, lots of photos and lots of information about specific foods (like sea salt, for example) and the authors' experiences and observations.  So, it's much more than a cookbook, really.  But, the cooking part is great, too.  Er, rather the un-cooking part.

There are loads of great recipes in here, and they challenge every preconceived notion I ever had about raw foods.  There is nary a plate of carrots to be seen.  There are, however, great recipes like spicy Thai vegetable wraps.  I made these & they were great.  My husband liked them too (he tried all my raw food recipes).  I couldn't make the tamarind sauce that accompanies the dish because I couldn't find tamarind, but the dish was really tasty even without the sauce.  The pineapple-cucumber gazpacho was very light and refreshing.  I loved the pairing of pineapple & cucumber.  Now that summer's here, I'll be making it again for certain.  The freezer fudge was awesome & I have to admit, I horded it ("but that's my special raw food recipe honey......").  The honey nut butter & berry jam sandwich is so easy to make & easy to tailor to your needs (I don't have a dehydrator, so I skipped that part).  And there are a couple of recipes that I have not tried, but really want to: soft corn tortillas and the dark chocolate ganache tart.  Don't they just sound yummy - now imagine making these dishes with all healthy, fresh ingredients that are actually good for you!

I saved the best for last, however.  One of my all-time favorite recipes comes from this book: the cinnamon banana shake.  It. Is. To. Die. For.  I never realized how bananas & cinnamon compliment each other so well.  I make mine with the 30-second nut milk recipe, so it's fast and easy.  And I never throw away bananas anymore.....they have a much better future in store for them!

One nice thing about the book is that almost every recipe has a nice big color photo with it, so you can see how it's supposed to look.  The bad part of this is, you will want to make everything!  I should also mention that there are some recipes that call for special equipment (a dehydrator or a high speed blender, mostly).  It is definitely possible to make a lot of the recipes in the book without this equipment, but some things you can't (like any recipe with coconut - don't even try it unless you have the high speed blender).   

So, in celebration of the first day of summer, let's all turn off our ovens and un-cook dinner tonight!

Happy Summer!

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