I was a good sport about this book. I enthusiastically responded when I was asked if I wanted a free copy, but I wasn't exactly sure what I would find in its pages. Would there be strange things that I could never imagine eating? Weird green blended beverages? The thought of raw food immediately conjures up that scene in Baby Mama when Tina Fey's character Kate is on a date with Rob (Greg Kinnear) and they're eating a ball of raw yeast! They both look at each other and admit to being die-hard meat lovers and head off to get cheese steaks. That's kind of me.
I know that I'll never be able to convert to a raw food lifestyle -- although I've heard there are significant health benefits -- but it's something I've been curious about. I get fruit and veggie cravings and go on healthy eating sprees, and my hope was that this book would provide with me with the inspiration to make more creative fruit and veggie (and grain) dishes, as an alternative to the salad or sandwich for lunch and the usual meat and potatoes for dinner. And I thought maybe it would keep me from turning on the stove every now and again. And that's just what it did.
Here's what you can find in this book:
- How to soak and sprout vegetables and nuts to increase their nutritional value
- What types of kitchen tools are best for preparing raw food
- Which foods to have on hand for use in raw recipes (I really found this section helpful.)
- How to detox with raw foods
- What snacks are the best energy boosters
- How to make delicious desserts with only natural ingredients
You'll probably be shocked to learn that the first thing I tried was not a dessert recipe but a breakfast recipe for sweet breakfast porridge. One of the selling points of this book are the huge, vibrant pictures. I did my first pass-through, taking in all of the mouthwatering photos, and then I looked through again, reading everything more in depth. Something about the picture and the simplicity of this recipe grabbed me, and I knew I needed to try it out for breakfast one day. It's described as "a filling and satisfying dish that won't leave a heavy feeling in your body." While I was skeptical at first at how filling it could possibly be (it's just fruit), I was soon convinced because I couldn't even finish the whole bowl!
Sweet Breakfast Porridge (adapted from Raw Food)
1 pear, chopped into large pieces
1 banana, peeled and chopped into large pieces
1 apple, chopped into large pieces
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon flaxseed, ground
In a food processor or blender (recipe calls for blender but my food processor is more accessible so I used that), blend the pear pieces.
Add the banana pieces, and blend.
Add the apple pieces, and blend. (The recipe explains that blending in this order prevents the mixture from getting very sticky.)
Transfer mixture to a bowl and top with the cinnamon and flax seed.
This was surprisingly hearty though not heavy. I think the pear and apple skins and the flaxseed added the slightest bit of texture that kept this from being a big bowl of mushy fruit. I could definitely see myself making this again.
The next recipe I tried was also a breakfast recipe -- and also a very simple recipe. It's a sweet, gingery berry mixture. I learned my lesson when I made the sweet porridge above, so this time I only made a half recipe. The ingredients listed below are halved from the original recipe.
Berry Breakfast (adapted from Raw Food)
1/4 cup blueberries
1/4 cup raspberries
1/2 banana, peeled and sliced
1/2-inch piece of ginger
1 tablespoon hazelnuts, coarsely chopped (really wish they were toasted!)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Honey, to taste
Place the fruit in a bowl, and grate the ginger over it. Garnish with hazelnuts and sprinkle with cinnamon. Add honey if desired.
While the berry mixture had great flavor and was really good on its own, I couldn't help thinking about what a great addition to a parfait it would be.
And so I deviated from the raw food realm and broke out some granola and yogurt and made myself a parfait. I couldn't even last two mornings as a raw foodie!
So you won't soon find me sprouting beans and quinoa or forgoing cooked foods, but I will start adding flaxseed to my breakfast, and I will try some more of these raw food recipes. At least I've added a little more fruit to my diet so far. And I'm hoping to make my way through some of the lunch and dinner recipes in the book next. It's a small start in a healthy direction, right?
And my recipe tester mentality doesn't like that the ingredients aren't listed in the order in which they are used in the first recipe I made. And in the second recipe I made, the ginger was listed as grated in the ingredients, but then the recipe directions say to grate the ginger. These things aren't a huge deal (worse would be if the recipes didn't work), but if attention had been paid to these small details, the book would have been improved and would be of a higher quality.
What are your thoughts on raw food? Have you tried any raw food recipes? Do you think I should be brave and start sprouting lentils?