I’ve been anticipating this book since before it was even announced, so you can bet I’m absolutely thrilled it’s finally arrived!
I’d be surprised if you’re a blog reader and haven’t come across Gena Hamshaw yet. Her blog, Choosing Raw, has a huge following, and very rightly so.
It was one the first blogs I started reading many years ago and one that had a huge influence on leading me towards veganism, something that has had an unimaginably positive impact on my life.
Beyond the food, it was Gena’s personal background which first resonated with me. If you know my story, you’ll be aware that my relationship with food didn’t use to be so positive as it is today. Gena has openly shared her own past struggles with food and, unknown to her, she has been a kind of mentor to me throughout my own journey towards recovery. She has written some very moving, thought-provoking and inspiring posts on the subject which I definitely urge you to take a look at, wherever you’re coming from with food. Some of my favourites are listed here.
Gena’s warmth and compassion shines through in every one of her posts, making them a joy to read, before we even get to the great food! I’m sure a lot of you are here for that though…so let’s get to it!
Cherry Vanilla Tahini Ice Cream- Gena was the one who brought us banana soft serve so it’s only fitting that it gets a little spot in the book. I would never have thought of this flavour combination but it gets a big thumbs up.
If you do read Choosing Raw, the blog, you’ll be happy to know that the recipes very much reflect the “Gena-style” we know and love- that is to say- simple but still creative and super nutritious dishes, ideal for your everyday meals, not just for special occasions.
There are 125 recipes in the book so a lot to sink your teeth into. I’ve only had the book a couple of days and have been out at work most of the weekend, but have already made quite a few of the recipes. This book definitely won’t be sitting on your shelves gathering dust!
No-Bake Sunflower Oat Bars- A great staple snack bar, easy and inexpensive. Just 10 minutes kitchen time and now I have tasty snacks for the whole upcoming week!
Though the recipes emphasize raw foods, there are also some healthy cooked foods in there too, like sweet potatoes, whole grains, legumes and the occasional tempeh or tofu.
After the section on “essentials” and a sampling of some of Gena’s staple recipes: juices, snacks, dressings/dips and meal-sized salads, you’ll find breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes divided into three chapters, working from mostly cooked, to exclusively raw. If you’re just dipping your toes into vegan food then you might want to start in the “Tried and True” chapter, or, if you want to get stuck into all raw immediately, then head straight to the “Brave New World” chapter.
Kale Salad with Sweet Potato, Almonds, and Creamy Maple Chipotle Dressing- Gena is queen of the meal-sized salad! The dressing really makes this sing and will no doubt even have greens skeptics chowing down on platefuls of kale.
In case it’s a concern, unlike many raw recipes out there, those in the book that call for a dehydrator are in the minority. And in any case, Gena always gives the option and instructions for using your oven instead so it’s certainly not a necessity if you’re not concerned about your meals being “officially” raw.
Mango Coconut Chia Pudding- Chia pudding for breakfast is always a good start to the day up. Gena’s ingredients ratio was spot on for a thick, perfectly sweet (but not too sweet!) pudding.
I’ll admit to often skipping the non-recipe sections in vegan cookbooks, since, 5 years into veganism, I’m pretty familiar with the ingredients, equipment and the usual things discussed. But, as well as being a recipe collection, this book is a resource/lifestyle guide on all things vegan and nutrition related. Gena discusses the why, the what and the how of veganism and vegan and raw foods, in such a way that everyone, from the newbie to the well seasoned vegan, will learn something new.
I especially appreciated her balanced perspective on some of the big issues in nutrition which seem to cause a lot of controversy these days- oil in a vegan diet, soy, gluten, food-combining, and more.
Hemp-Seed Tabouli with Yellow Tomatoes and Mint
While you wait for your copies of the book to arrive…I’ve got a couple of recipes from the book for you to get started with! A big thanks to Gena for allowing me to share them.
The Raw Carrot Falafel and Hemp-Seed Tabouli with Yellow Tomatoes and Mint are a perfect pairing and such a fun twist on the classic cooked versions. The falafel have a sesame seed and carrot base and are dehydrated (or oven-baked) not fried. I was particularly excited about the tabouli. It looks so much like the traditional Middle-Eastern bulgur wheat and herb salad, but is fully raw!
(Raw) Carrot Falafel with Tangy Tahini Sauce
- 1 cup sesame seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups carrot pulp from juicing or 1 1/2 cups finely grated carrot, squeezed firmly between paper towels to remove excess moisture
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
- 2 tablespoons flax meal
- 1/4 cup fresh curly parsley
- 1 cup fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup fresh mint
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 4 medium yellow vine or Jersey tomatoes, chopped
- 1 cup shelled hemp seeds
- 2 tablespoons hemp oil
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Grind the sesame seeds and sea salt in a food processor until finely ground.
- Add the carrot pulp, garlic, lemon, cumin, if using, and flax, along with 1/3 cup of water. Process until the mixture is smooth.
- Add the parsley to the processor and pulse to combine.
- Shape the mixture into twelve small patties. Dehydrate at 115 F for 6 hours, flipping once through.
- Alternatively, preheat the oven to 350. Bake the falafel for 15 minutes. Flip and cook for another 10 minutes, or until golden brown on both sides. Top with tangy tahini sauce (pg. 188), and serve.
- Stored in an airtight container in the fridge, both dehydrated and baked falafel will keep for up to 4 days. They can also be frozen.
- In a food processor fitted with the “S” blade, process the parsley, mint, and sea salt until minced.
- Transfer the herbs and salt to a large mixing bowl. Add the tomatoes, hemp seeds, hemp oil, and lemon juice. Mix well, and serve.
- Stored in an airtight container in the fridge, the tabouli will keep for 2 days.
From Choosing Raw by Gena Hamshaw. Reprinted with permission from Da Capo Lifelong, © 2014.
Congratulations again Gena on your first cookbook! It’s all I hoped for and more!
Get your copy of Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat now if you haven’t ordered it already.
I want reports back on your favourite recipes too everyone! N.B. All pictures here are my own but the recipes in the book are accompanied by beautiful photographs from Hannah Kaminsky.
[Disclosure: I was sent a free copy of this cookbook for review purposes, but, as always, all opinions are my own]