Recently, the wonderful people at Da Capo Press and Gena Hamshaw of Choosing Raw sent me this great book to review! This is my first cookbook review, so as you can imagine, I'm a little nervous and excited. I have been reading Gena's blog for quite some time now, and I was thrilled to learn that she was publishing a cookbook. What strikes me most about Gena is her attitude towards raw and plant-based foods. She isn't telling you to go 100% raw or vegan immediately after this post, because she understands that making that transition or even just adding more plant-based foods is a long process.
Toasted Pumpkin Granola p.148
Reading Gena's introduction to her book really struck a chord with me. Sometimes when I think about my own journey of becoming gluten-free and mostly vegan, I forget that there are probably a lot of people out there that have suffered in very similar ways. Gena is very open in her introduction about her past, which sounds almost identical to mine: from battles with eating disorders, to IBS and digestion issues, we have had very similar troubles. But our outcome has been the same as well: we understand that there must be a balance in our diets in order for us to be healthy and for our bodies to be happy.
Chickpea Tofu Tahini Scramble p.152
So, are you interested in adding more plant-based or vegan foods into your diet? How about trying more raw recipes? Gena's book is a great starting point for anyone who wants to try these things. She breaks it down to it's post fundamental points with these sections: The Why, The What, and The How. This is a great, simple way for people to understand what it means to add more plant-based foods, how it's possible, and why it's a great thing. Since she is a licensed nutritionist, she includes a mini nutrition lesson (which I certainly appreciated), as well as a discussion on the ethics of consuming animals, and answering frequently asked questions or busting common myths. She also discusses the ways in which plant-based foods and raw foods can improve our digestion, energy, and immunity.
Raw Vegan Bircher Muesli p.155
One of my favorite parts of this book is The How section. When I started to change my diet towards more vegan food, I did it all by figuring it out myself and reading a ton of blogs. Gena makes it straight-forward just how simple it is to add more plant-based foods into our diet. Of course, it starts with having a well stocked pantry and the right appliances. These two things are the first things that I tell people who are looking to eat more plant-based. When you have a well-stocked and diverse pantry, alongside the right kitchen equipment, the possibilities for your meals are endless! Then it's just about time management and meal planning. A question that I get asked all of the time is "How do you work, go to school full time, and still cook for yourself all week long?" The answer is that I make time to do these things. And for the most part, I can have something going on the stove, in the oven, or the slow-cooker while I'm busy doing something else that needs to be done. It's not impossible! I also LOVE that Gena includes a very long and detailed meal plan in her book for us newbies to raw foods!
Nori and Pumpkin Seed Cigars p.116
The food section is also organized in a way to make it easier to transition to plant-based foods, with Level 1 (foods like granola and chickpea scrambles, to make it easier to adapt to plant-based foods), Level 2 (going outside of our comfort zone with collard wraps and portobello "steaks), and Level 3 (try something totally new like cashew banana yogurt or raw ratatouille). These leveled sections make it even easier, and fun, to start adding more plant-based foods into our diet! I also really enjoy the section labeled "15 essentials" which includes things like homemade almond milk, a green smoothie, and a kale salad. And last but not least, she also includes many desserts, most of which are raw! For instance, raw peach cobbler and blueberry cheesecake. I have to admit that I've grown fonder of raw desserts lately, and I can't wait to try my hand at them in the kitchen!
Cinnamon-Sugar Roasted Chickpeas p.115
As for the recipes I tried, they were all super easy, quick to put together, and delicious! As you can tell, I tried a mix of raw and cooked recipes. The raw vegan bircher muesli was one of my favorites because it makes a lovely protein-packed and quick breakfast during the week! I also think I am seriously in love with the chickpea tofu tahini scramble. I've never thought of putting tahini in my tofu scrambles, but I might just have to now! The last recipe I made was the cinnamon-sugar roasted chickpeas that you see above. I was interested to see how the flavors would work together, and I was pleasantly surprised! I seriously can't recommend this book enough to anyone who is interested in seeking a more plant-based diet or raw foods in general!