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Vegetarians in Paradise

Vegetarian Books

Each issue the VIP birds endeavor to soar to the highest literary peak to peck out the most unique, informative, and accomplished book that contributes to vegetarian enlightenment.

This month we review two books that focus on the merits of a raw food lifestyle.

Click here for a review of Simply Raw Living Foods Detox Manual

The Raw Food Revolution Diet

By Cherie Soria, Brenda Davis, and Vesanto Melina

Book Publishing Company, 2008
Paperback $21.95

The raw food lifestyle has inspired an enthusiastic, soul-stirring movement across the globe and much of this excitement can be credited to Cherie Soria, who instructed and encouraged a host of devoted followers, entrepreneurs, and fledgling chefs.

Fueled by her desire to bring good health, weight loss, energy, and a youthful constitution to millions, Cherie joined with Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina, both registered dietitians, to lead the way toward a raw food health revolution. Their new book, The Raw Food Revolution Diet, brings dietary guidance, science and expertise, along with a cornucopia of recipes, to a lifestyle that focuses on raw and living foods to promote health and wellbeing.

Cherie came to the vegetarian lifestyle in her early twenties to avoid the chronic diseases her family members had suffered. While still a child she recognized her kinship with food. Her cooking skills eventually led her to teaching others to cook healthier foods. She continued to evolve her health education and dietary practices, and in her mid forties discovered the raw food diet. The Living Light Culinary Arts Institute in Fort Bragg, California, opened in 1997, is the home of Cherie's passion where she teaches others how to prepare raw gourmet vegan cuisine.

Raw Food Revolution Diet In The Raw Food Revolution Diet, Cherie's co-authors Brenda and Vesanto discuss the country's obesity problem and describe how the prevailing Standard American Diet ages a person by 20 years. They stress that our culture places emphasis on an overabundance of food, sedentary lifestyles, and diets that don't work. The authors say, "In order to achieve a lifelong healthful weight, you need lifelong healthful eating and exercise habits. There is no going back to your former diet and lifestyle--ever."

Brenda and Vesanto offer guidelines that help redirect people toward vibrant health by eating more plant-based foods. Included in the book are the Raw Food Standards developed during the International Living Food Summit of 2006, a chapter on food combining for better digestion, and an introduction to the raw food diet with a three-week Fast Track regimen to help "rewire your taste buds."

Part of the Fast Track plan discusses sleep, exercise, sunshine, and stress management, and emphasizes the inclusion of a well-rounded diet by discussing specific food categories like vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and foods with important natural fats like avocados, nuts, olives, and seeds. Nutrition is covered in detail with discussions of protein, carbs, fiber, fats and calories. To help readers make sound food choices, the book provides beneficial nutrition charts.

The how-to chapters cover kitchen appliances for raw food preparation, sprouting seeds, soaking nuts, and ripening and storing fruits. Making one's kitchen raw food friendly can be a bit daunting for first-timers, but the book provides sound advice. The authors almost take their readers by the hand and offer them easy-to-understand guidelines for what to keep in the pantry, how to save time in the kitchen, and what tools to purchase for the raw prep kitchen.

Plunging into a new dietary regimen sometimes leaves newcomers wondering which foods to combine for a complete and healthful meal. Ten pages cover menu suggestions for breakfast, lunch, supper, and snacks. While the majority of the recipes come from Cherie, several are contributions by other raw chefs.

Breakfast recipes range from smoothies laced with nutrient-dense greens like kale to fruit salads, cereals, and granola. In contrast to the standard practice of oven-baking breads at about 350 degrees, Cherie's raw breads and crackers are sprouted, unleavened, and thoughtfully dehydrated at 105 degrees to preserve their nutrients and vitality. Following in the footsteps of the ancient Essenes, this chef's Sprouted Grain Bread is made with an ancient grain called kamut, along with walnuts, dates, and a pinch of salt.

The Spreads and Dips chapter introduces a Basic Nut Cheese recipe and indulges readers with seven unique nut cheese variations that could dress up their dehydrated breads or crackers. In addition to Pine Nut Parmesan and Chunky Cheese are tasty choices like Broccoli Pesto Paté and Zucchini Hummus.

Topping a salad of fresh greens are creative dressings like Pineapple Lemongrette and Tomato Basil Dressing, along with Liquid Gold Dressing from The New Becoming Vegetarian by Brenda and Vesanto. Sauces for heartier dishes include Marinara Sauce, Spicy Sweet-and-Sour Sauce, and a zesty Hot Mustard. For a splash of something sweet on the dehydrated bread, the section includes Berry-Date Jam, an easy blend of fresh berries and dates. Cherie Soria

Ten succulent choices fill the salad bowl with mouthwatering innovations. Kale is often extolled for its highly nutritious qualities and instantly warms the taste buds when it turns up in bowl of Kale Coleslaw spiced with red jalapeno chile. The traditional Waldorf Salad morphs into something entirely new when strewn with pomegranate seeds and baby greens and coated with Poppy Seed Dressing.

Imagine a robust meal of raw Minestrone Italiano made with marinated onions, zucchini, bell peppers, carrots, green beans, broccoli, and cremini mushrooms and warmed in the dehydrator or served chilled. Cherie suggests serving it with her Caesar Salad embellished with Creamy Horseradish Dressing.

Everything the standard American diner enjoys has its counterpart in the chapter on Entrées: Garden Pizza, Mexican Burritos, Vietnamese Salad Rolls, Vegetable Teriyaki, Zucchini Pasta, and Zoom Burgers.

Care for some Figgie Nut'ins or Turtle Truffles? Both are found in the section on Snacks and Sweets that also include nibbles like Spicy Sprouted Lentils or Falafel Chlckpea Nuts. Other treats to make life sweet include cookies, ice cream, puddings, and pies.

The book closes with two nutritional charts, one focusing on vitamin needs, the other on mineral requirements. Both cover all life stages from infancy to adulthood up to 50 years of age. Author resources direct readers to the Raw Food Revolution Diet website and Living Light sources for kitchen appliances geared to raw food preparation.

Graphically attractive, the book features accents of varying shades of kale green and deep blue throughout. The soft Prussian blue text is cleverly complimented with recipe ingredients listed in muted kale green. Recipe titles, side bars, and charts appear within blue and green torn-paper borders, while each chapter is introduced with appealing food photos in muted shades of earthy green.

The Raw Food Revolution Diet is an invaluable tool to launch anyone to board a lifestyle that is truly becoming a food revolution. No one need ever feel deprived of indulgent comfort foods with this rich cornucopia of earthly pleasures contained within these pages. Newcomers and raw fooders alike will find this volume not only helpful but also highly informative and richly detailed. The recipes are well crafted, clearly written, and easy to follow with numbered directions. The bookshelf of today's kitchen would be incomplete without The Raw Food Revolution Diet.

The Simply Raw Living Foods Detox Manual

By Natasha Kyssa

Arsenal Pulp Press, 2009
Paperback $18.95

For some, achieving good health is a long journey. But for Natasha Kyssa the long and circuitous life journey brought her healing rewards and amazing vitality through a raw foods lifestyle. At 47 she leads a vigorous athletic life running, rock climbing, hiking, skiing, and cycling, along with Pilates and yoga, and credits her raw lifestyle for promoting her good health and energy.

Natasha grew up on a nearly vegetarian diet of fruits, vegetables, large salads, whole grains, and dark bread with small amounts of meat only a few times a week. Away from home during her teens, she turned to processed foods, gained weight, felt sluggish, and experienced depression. Back home, she restored her physical and emotional health with a macrobiotic diet but that soon changed when she began her modeling career and turned to the starvation regimen typical of that profession.

After seven years struggling with anorexia and bulimia, she sought help by reading leading authors in the raw food field. Her stay at the Ann Wigmore Institute in Puerto Rico and West Palm Beach jump started her healing journey.

Simply Raw Living Foods Detox Manual Today, Natasha counsels others by leading month-long cleansing and detoxification groups. She says, "Transformation occurs over time: twenty-eight days is long enough to break old habits and to create new, healthier ones." She recognizes the importance of, "cultivating the healthy habits that have the biggest impact on our well-being."

Aware of the many toxic chemicals in our environment and in our food, Natasha lists a number of symptoms resulting from toxicity like exhaustion, fatigue, arthritis, metallic taste in the mouth, and powerful food cravings. She says that detoxification is important in order to reverse poor health and that raw and living foods are vital in rebuilding an ailing immune system.

She begins the detox program with a gentle approach of eating mostly raw foods the first week to prepare the body for the following weeks of totally raw foods and encourages scheduling three colonics during the month-long undertaking. The book covers the program in detail including physical reactions and unpleasant emotions that may occur.

Energy Soup, developed by Ann Wigmore, is vital to the raw foods lifestyle because it helps a person to cleanse and rebuild quickly. Some of its nutritious ingredients like sprouts and Rejuvelac require special preparation, and are covered with detailed how-to instructions.

Blending, juicing, and sprouting are essential components to the raw foods lifestyle that also emphasizes the preparation of fermented foods like sauerkraut, nut and seed cheeses, and yogurt. Each process is fully explained in a way that makes readers feel they are attending a private class. Aware that people enjoy socializing and traveling, Natasha suggests planning ahead by consuming plenty of green smoothies before traveling and carrying raw and dried foods on the trip. Because Natasha knows eating out with friends can present temptation, she suggests ordering a salad with only raw vegetables and fresh lemon for dressing.

The program actually begins the week before the formal detox with Natasha suggesting one cut back on caffeinated beverages, meat, and dairy products and shop for plenty of fresh produce and purified water. Meal-by-meal points are covered thoroughly at the beginning of the month-long detox followed by what to expect day-by-day and week-by-week.

After the Program: Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle is a guide to help one maintain good health after the detox by providing meal plans, giving advice on food combining, and offering suggestions on balancing acid and alkaline foods. The detoxed body is then ready for the 135 recipes that begin with raw juices and smoothies and emphasize green smoothies like the Mango Spinach or Raw Family Wild Banango Smoothie.

Natasha Kyssa Basic Nut and Seed Milks follow with tasty Hemp Milk made from hemp seeds, frozen berries, a banana, and agave or stevia to sweeten. Carob Super-shake and Mango Berry Parfait are two tasty examples in the section on Shakes and Puddings. Living Puddings feature fruit along with sprouted foods, while Breakfast choices offer a hearty bowl of Living Muesli or Live Oats. Simplyraw's Grawnola packs a nutrient-dense meal that includes almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and chia seeds along with dates, raisins, apples, and cinnamon.

Fourteen Soup choices and thirteen Salad recipes keep the raw meals refreshing and invigorating along with a host of tasty Spreads, Dips, and Patés. The diner who relishes hearty Entrées will find joyful satiety with It's a Wrap, Chili, BLT, and Nori Rolls.

For a sweet finish, Natasha provides nurturing temptations like Carob Pudding, fresh Banana Ice Cream, and Frozen Vanilla Bliss that can be quickly prepared in the blender. Even the Fuss-Free Carrot Cake is truly fuss-free. It's whipped up in the food processor, pressed into a springform pan, and topped with a blender recipe of Cashew Cheese Icing.

The book concludes with Appendixes covering recommended reading, resources, films, and helpful websites followed by several pages listing nutrient values for several green vegetables.

The Simply Raw Living Foods Detox Manual is a must-have handbook for anyone seeking a sensible path to reclaim good health and emotional wellness. This well-conceived book contains invaluable guidelines and wholesome recipes for ridding the body of chemical and dietary toxicity with a gentle, yet progressive 28-day program that unchains one from bad habits and reinforces good daily practices. Read the book again and again, then, share it with someone in need.

Click here for past book reviews

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