Friday, March 16, 2012

Book Review: Raw and Beyond: How Omega-3 Nutrition Is Transforming the Raw Food Paradigm

I love the kinds of cookbooks that are big, full of sensuous pictures of food and the beautiful places they come from.  Besides the physical beauty, I love reading and making new to me recipes that are creative and delicious.  Even more than beauty, I love sincerity and love that comes through in collections of handclipped recipes from newspapers kept in an overflowing shoebox, hand lettered or scrawled recipes in a spiral notebook kept by my mother. This is why was I was very excited to receive for review a relatively slim (157 pages), soft cover, cookbook with exactly one 4-color photograph of raw, whole fruits and vegetables on the front cover. The content was a loving evolution of ideas and collaboration of 3 authors. A small book with a long title, black and white text, but the content was juicy:  Raw and Beyond: How Omega-3 Nutrition Is Transforming the Raw Food Paradigm: 100 Delicious Recipes for Sustaining a High-Raw Diet by Victoria Boutenko, Elaina Love, and Chad Sarno.

The beginning of the book, Part One, contains each author's personal history, evolution, and lessons learned regarding raw foods. I found the table of omega-3/omega-6 content of particular foods fascinating and surprising in Ms. Boutenko's section.  It shook up my perceptions of foods, like nuts, I thought of as no holds barred healthful. I also found her description of greens as a leafy green parts of plants you can fold around your finger as poetic.  A few years ago I attended a talk by her that made me view lambsquarters and purslane as desirable rather than weedy.  Page 80 contains a Wild Weeds soup that has my mouth watering and in entire body aching for spring. 

Part Two contains the recipes, divided into the categories of Appetizers, Antipasti, and Finger Foods; Salads; Dressings; Soups; Bread, Crackers, and Chips; Entrees; Desserts; Drinks.  Each recipe is label Raw or Cooked.   There is a helpful index in back.  While most of the ingredients are fresh fruits and vegetables and greens, I think that a listing of the more unusual ingredients and mail order places to source them would have been helpful to include.  I imagine outside a big city health food or store supermarket dulse flakes, miso, hemp seeds, nutritional yeast, probiotic powder, cumin powder, flaxseed oil, tamari, chia seeds, golden and brown flaxseeds, mizuna, and Irish Moss Paste. Also specialty items like blenders (more commonly found in kitchens) or food dehydrators (less common) are called for in some recipes. On the other hand, sourcing is probably a few clicks away.

While some of the recipes are more complex, there are certainly recipes with few ingredients that can be found in regular grocery stores and maybe even in the home garden. We actually have all the ingredients in our cupboards for Black Forest Carob Brownies on page 124.  I look forward to the cocoa/dried cherry combination.

I warmly recommend this book to anyone with a sense of cooking adventure, anyone looking to incorporate more raw and/or lightly cooked healthy foods into their diet, or anyone taking steps toward a vegetarian lifestyle.

Disclosure: Victoria Boutenko sent me a copy of Raw and Beyond for an honest review.

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