making raw foods part of the way you live.

9780738216874 I am a sucker for a good cookbook with gorgeous photography, simple inspiring dishes and lots of intriguing narrative backstory.

Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat, the newly released {almost-but-not-entirely} raw cookbook from Gena Hamshaw is a perfect blend of all of these.

If the thought of a raw food cookbook seems a) silly or b) terrifying, this is a great tome to check out.

a) While raw food technically doesn’t require ‘cooking’, there is a great deal of  technique and much thoughtful food combining to take into consideration when working with raw ingredients.

b) The book itself is structured beautifully, walking you through three distinct sets of recipes divided by levels 1-3, which definitely addresses the fear factor situation. Raw food, despite all its simplicity, seems to strike terror into the hearts of eaters everywhere, and I’ll admit I was one of those folks until I jumped into raw food-ing a few years ago as a health experiment.) The levels make it easy to dive in and see how raw food can easily fit into your existing lifestyle. Overwhelmed by the idea of date paste and sprouted grains? Start at Level 1. An old pro? Start at 3. Of course, as the author explains, you’re not limited to one section or another, nor should you feel like you need to ‘progress’ through the book. My approach? Look for what sounded yummy and try that.

The recipes are gorgeous and simple, using fresh whole foods - lots of veggies, nuts and seeds - combined in really inventive ways. I love that most recipes, too, feature an optional cooking preparation. In working with a variety of different people in the last two years, I’ve definitely seen that raw food isn’t the best option for everyone. Particularly if you have digestive trouble, raw food can be tough to break down: cooking, in essence, pre-breaks down the fibrous, dense components of food to help the body more easily disassemble. (Kale and broccoli are good example: think of how tough and fibrous these veggies are when they’re raw, then think about how they’re softer and more chewable when cooked. As long as food isn’t cooked past the point of recognition, or heated so intensely that every nutrient is destroyed, there is a place in our diet for cooked food… just as there’s a place for raw food!) Choosing Raw does a great job of covering both of these elements, while making the benefits of incorporating raw elements every day very easy to appreciate.

A salad here, a smoothie there, a raw dressing over here, perhaps a semi-raw entrée. Lots of fun ideas to play with and some really delicious meal idea to experiment with.

I chose a few of the most inventive ones and put them to the test.

Raw Carrot Falafel with Tangy Tahini Sauce
These were a huge hit at our place. We had an awesome new neighbor over for dinner over the weekend and - thankfully - these turned out awesomely. These falafel patties are made up of grated carrot or carrot pulp (I used the leftovers from the carrots I juiced for a soup; hurray for no waste!), whole sesame seeds and some Indian-inspired spices: no grains, no legumes, easy to digest and extra yummy. I had to modify the recipe slightly with some extra water in order to blend it thoroughly. I imagine this is because our juice is extremely efficient and the pulp comes out very dry. I also added an extra clove of garlic - just because! - and omitted the sweetener from the sauce. Again, I took the baked option and popped the falafel in the oven for about 35 minutes to crisp up.

falafel with 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 

1⁄2 cup water
1⁄4 cup tahini
1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon agave nectar or pure maple syrup

1. Grind the sesame seeds and sea salt in a food processor until finely ground.
2. Add the carrot pulp, garlic, lemon, cumin, if using, and flax, along with 1⁄3 cup of water. Process until the mixture is smooth.
3. Add the parsley to the processor and pulse to combine.
4. Shape the mixture into twelve small patties. Dehydrate at 115F 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.
5. To make sauce, combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
6. Top falafel with tangy tahini sauce, 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. 

Serves 4

Pumpkin Quinoa Risotto with Pomegranate Seeds
I’m a quinoa risotto sucker and absolutely loved this unique - and simplified - recipe. We used roasted, pureed acorn squash and pumpkin seeds in place of pumpkin and pomegranate seeds. It’s terrifically creamy with a nice bite from the onions. Using nutritional yeast in vegan risotto is a great trick: it gives it a nice melted-cheesy flavor, no cheese required. This was quick to put together and kept well for a couple of days in the fridge. 

Pumpkin risotto

1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
1 1⁄2 cups chopped onion
1 cup quinoa, rinsed in a sieve
2 2⁄3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 1⁄2 cups pumpkin or butternut squash puree
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt (add more to taste)
1⁄2 cup pomegranate seeds

1. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot. Add the onion and saute, stirring frequently, for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the onion is translucent and browning.
2. Add the quinoa and stir it in with the onion for a few minutes, to lightly toast the grain. Add 2 cups of the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, but with the lid of the pot slightly ajar.
3. When the quinoa has absorbed almost all of the liquid (15 to 18 minutes), stir in 1 cup of the pumpkin with an additional 1⁄3 cup of vegetable broth. Stir until the mixture has absorbed the liquid, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining 1⁄2 cup of pumpkin and 1⁄3 cup of broth, along with the nutritional yeast, lemon, and salt. Keep cooking until the quinoa is no longer liquidy but has the creamy texture of a risotto, about 5 minutes. Stir in the pomegranate seeds at the very end, or use them as a garnish when you plate each dish. Serve.

Leftover risotto will thicken up in the fridge, but you can reheat it with a splash of almond milk or vegetable broth. This dish will keep for 3 days. If you plan on having leftovers, you may want to sprinkle the pomegranate seeds on top of the risotto when you serve, rather than mixing them in, so that their color holds up. Leftover risotto can be frozen as well.

Serves 4

[like guacamole, but with chocolate!]
This is a dangerous, dangerous discovery. I’ve had my share of avocado puddings in the past, but this one - easy, flavor-filled and seriously luscious - might be making a regular appearance in our home. I halved the amount of maple syrup, just to keep my sugar monster in check, but otherwise, the proportions are great. It’s creamy, as one would expect pudding to be, but without all of the gross additives of a Snack Pack. ;)


1 large, ripe Haas avocado, peeled and pitted
1⁄4 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or one vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise and seeds scooped out with a spoon
1⁄4 cup raw cacao powder
Pinch sea salt

1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor fitted with the “S” blade or a highspeed blender. Add 1⁄4 cup of water and begin blending.
2. Add more water as needed, until the mixture is totally smooth and has the texture of thick chocolate pudding.

Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 2 days.

Serves 2

All in all, Choosing Raw is a superb resource for the novice raw chef, the experience vegan cook or anyone looking to involve more fresh, whole food into each day. Check it out here. 

Recipes are From Choosing Raw by Gena Hamshaw. Reprinted with permission from Da Capo Lifelong, © 2014

 Disclaimer: I received a copy of Choosing Raw to facilitate this review, but all opinions are my own.

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in cookbook review, dessert, dinner, gluten-free recipes, health coaching info, homepage featured, recipes
2 comments on “making raw foods part of the way you live.
  1. Claryn says:

    Wow, that raw carrot falafel looks incredible. So inventive!

    • amyheight says:

      It’s a really neat use for juicer pulp! They turned out amazingly… I love, too, that they’re super filling without having any grain. Easy to digest, easy to make in batches, all plants: basically all of my favorite things. ;) Enjoy!

1 Pings/Trackbacks for "making raw foods part of the way you live."
  1. […] I used a few simple spices and coconut oil to sautee this up, using it as a side dish for the Carrot Falafel from the Choosing Raw cookbook.  […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.